LensWork (magazine)


Q. How does LensWork choose portfolios for the magazine?
A. We always enjoy getting a chance to look at new work. In fact, about half of what we've published in LensWork comes from submissions that were originally unsolicited. We love giving exposure to people who are doing good work but are not plugged into the publicity machines that galleries and traditional publishers provide.

Our submission guidelines are available here as a downloadable PDF. Please review these submission guidelines and then feel free to send in your work for consideration. Obviously, we can't publish everything that is submitted, but we also can't publish work that isn't ever submitted! The best way to start is to send in the work and let us take a look.

The selection process involves several steps. Upon receipt, we review all portfolios. Those we have interest in are escalated into in our "pool of potential candidates." In preparation for each issue, we gather all the portfolios that are currently under consideration and look for a combination that will compliment each other nicely.

It's important to note that we never look at photographers curriculum vitae, biography, status, equipment, technique, longevity in photography, or other criteria that influence other typical selection processes. We look at the work - and that's it. In fact, the only thing we consider in our selection process is the work. We've rejected some very famous names in photography. We've published some who are brand new to photography. We judge work on a strict meritocracy plan and our editorial sensitivities. 

Q. Can I advertise in LensWork?
A. Sorry, but no. LensWork no longer accepts outside advertising. Most magazines live or die by their revenue from advertising. We have a different philosophy. We rely strictly on the quality of our publication and our customers' willingness to purchase it. We believe strongly that our readers will support our efforts as long as we continue to produce a publication that is worthy of their attention.

Q. How would I go about purchasing prints of photographers featured in past issues of LensWork?
A. Most (but not all) of the photographers we publish in LensWork do sell their prints. We suggest you contact them directly (or their gallery representatives) about your interest in purchasing their photographs.


Q. Does LensWork Extended have the same content as the magazine version?
A. Yes, and much more! In addition to the magazine’s full content you’ll see many more photos from the featured photographers, along with audio interviews, a bonus gallery, and additional materials. Each issue of Extended includes a unique assortment of extra goodies which may include additional articles, etc.

Q. Does the subscription to LensWork Extended include the print version of the magazine?
A. LensWork Magazine and LensWork Extended are two different publications and are purchased separately. You may purchase one or both individually, or by subscription.


Q. Will you be offering your workshops in Anacortes again?
A. No live workshops at this time but we will continue to offer workshops on disc.

In response to the hundreds of requests we received from folks who would like the information but can't travel to Anacortes for a live workshop experience, we will be producing the main content from all five workshops as play-at-home, disc-based tutorials two of which are already available here. Think of these as "workshop on a disc" products.

Book reviews

Q. Does LensWork do book reviews?
A. Not as such. We often do receive "sample review copies" of newly published books for review and often we find portfolio candidates for LensWork this way. We do not do "recommendations" type reviews, but a portfolio in LensWork (typically 15-20 images) will allow our readers to decide for themselves about a body of work.

LensWork Special Editions Prints

As of October 2008, we are again offering LensWork Special Editions.

Q. Why don't I see LensWork Special Editions gelatin silver prints offered any more?
A. After a year of agonizing, we have now (August 2005) officially closed the LensWork darkroom. In fact, we have dismantled it completely, effectively shutting down the LensWork gelatin silver Special Editions program.

We have done so for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the increasing difficulty in the availability of materials. We used a great deal of Forte paper and it is gone. We used Ilford paper and although it is still available, they have recently reorganized and their future is unknown. Paper is one issue, and although still available today, it's future is in question — a difficulty that complicates long-term business planning. Assuming there would be no problems at all with obtaining paper, there is an even larger problem that has plagued us now for some time.

The larger and more troublesome issue is that we rely on the availability of large scale digital negatives — the 425-line screen negative technology we pioneered. To obtain these negatives we rely on outside services and their ability to consistently provide high quality negatives. The machines (imagesetters) that make these negatives are a fast-dying technology as more and more high-end printers convert to the better quality and less expensive computer-to-plate technologies. Imagesetter machines are rapidly disappearing from the printing industry and even those who are keeping them for a smaller client base are not keeping them in the same top-state of operational refinement. These machines require constant maintenance, cleaning, and tuning which is an expensive proposition. Without consistent maintenance, problems show up and are particularly noticeable when you push the machine to its limits — which we do with our 425-line screen negatives. We thought about just buying one for our own use, but the service contracts are incredibly expensive — a fact which complicates the business decisions of service bureaus whose clients are moving more and more to CTP.

In fact, the last several gelatin silver portfolios we did (Fay Godwin, Huntington Witherill, Tatiana Palnitska, Ryuijie, and Wynn Bullock) caused us fits. In each case we had to order up to a dozen of the same film in order to get one that was streak-free. The problems show up in horizontal lines that run the width of the image and are especially visible in smooth Zone 6-8 tones, especially skies, clouds, or water. This flaw is a result of the image setter not being in top condition, dirty, or the gears being slightly worn or out of alignment. Our service provider was very understanding and worked long and hard to help us resolve this, but their primary business is not high-resolution film for fine art reproductions. There are limits for any business that is trying to push a delicate technology for only a few customers. Without flawless negatives, we are simply stuck. With the increasing difficulty of getting these negatives, the risks of promising prints which we may not be able to deliver was just too great.

Curiously enough, the problems we have been having do not show up (fortunately) when one uses digital negatives for platinum printing. I have seen 300-line screen negatives make stunning platinum prints whereas a 300-line screen negative shows obvious dots in a silver print. I suspect this has to do with the paper fibers and texture of a platinum print helping to disguise the dots - as compared to the higher resolution of silver paper which requires a 425-line screen to achieve the same visual effect. Funny, but the older printing technologies marry more successfully with digital negatives than the newer ones! What a strange world we live in.

In order to solve this, we've experimented over the last year or so with digital negatives from inkjet printers, but have not been able to create anything that approaches the fidelity of our 425-line screen negatives. Simply put, it seems the technology had snookered us. This hybrid technology - with a foot in both technology camps - was always a dicey combination. It worked beautifully when it worked, but in the final analysis there are just too many ways it can go wrong. As difficult as it is for us to do, it is time to move on.

Please understand this is a business decision, not an aesthetic one. Quite frankly, we are heartsick about this. It has been a good run. In the last seven years we've sold over 17,000 gelatin silver prints. We've been encouraged by so many of you for which we are very thankful.

Over the last couple of years we have been frequently asked if we will offer LensWork Special Editions in ink. We might. We are not sure. [Note: as of Oct 2008, we now are! Here is the announcement.] Right now I am working on about 10 years of backlogged personal projects. (See my personal website at www.brooksjensenarts.com) For years I focused my attention on developing and perfecting the LensWork hybrid printing technology. (Which I could have avoided if Burkholder had just written his book about 5 years earlier!) It's now time for a bit of a rest and regroup.

I hope this helps you understand our reasoning. Please note that our decision has nothing whatsoever to do with aesthetics, analog processes, or in any way be interpreted as an insult to the tradition of analog printing or materials. (In other words, I am keeping my enlarger and my negative archives!) Thanks for understanding and for your support these last seven years of gelatin silver Special Editions.