The Online Photographer

Check out our new site at!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

We're All Famous Like

I'd like thank Nick Wright, of Independence, Kansas, for naming T.O.P. as one of his favorite blogs (he named Carl's, too) over on It's always humbling to have one's virtual chicken-scratchings singled out for praise, especially on a forum that's only semi-related.

I was also pleased to get my most recent issue of LensWork (no. 69, Mar.–Apr. 2007) in the mail, and, as I usually do, turn first to Bill Jay's "End Notes" column at the back of the magazine—there to read an item discussing one of T.O.P.'s very own posts. I've been an admirer of Bill's since I stumbled across his excellent 1992 Nazraeli Press book Occam's Razor, still a favorite (and, despite the philosophical title, all about photography).



Blogger David Kelly said...

You getting the latest LensWork reminds me that a couple of years ago I sent $24 for e re-up of my sub to The 37th Frame. Exactly one issue arrived before it vanished. What happened? Was the balance of my sub a charitable contribution to TOP? Or is it just that you're shooting digital now so we never reach the end of the roll? I don't mind any of that but I was looking forward to the rest of the 35mm lens reviews. maybe you could put those up on lulu?

4:02 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Yes, the newsletter is now free, in effect, and that poses a real problem...what to do for people like you who paid for it?

I keep meaning to cope with this, somehow, and I haven't gotten around to it. The natural solution would be to refund the money to everyone who paid for the newsletter. This would solve the problem. Unfortunately, I can't do this, not because of any failure of will, but due to the "can't get blood from a turnip" principle. Next, I was going to offer everyone a copy of my next book for cost. But too many people said that this is too much like asking for MORE money from people you already owe money to. Then there was the idea of rescusitating the newsletter as sort of a "TOP Extended"--a PDF of the best TOP posts, with certain articles lengthened, more illustrations, and some additional material added. But then you have the problem that you're giving people in return for their money what they can already basically get for free. Finally, I was considering offering all subscribers a choice of free prints...but there, too, you have the problem of foisting something on people that they didn't sign up for, which might cause resentment against the pictures. Maybe I could send everybody T-shirts that say, "I signed up for a newsletter and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

Of course, the worst solution is the one provisionally in force, which is, do nothing, thus forcing subscribers-in-good-faith to _de facto_ make "charitable contributions to TOP" as you put it....

This causes me not-inconsiderable anguish and, as one of my main goals in life right now is to get rid of the obligations I have hanging over my head, it's something I really should deal with. Any ideas?


4:24 PM  
Blogger David Kelly said...

Well. i don't know how many subscribers there were when 37th frame morphed into TOP but I for one don't want my money back, because i'm getting to read more Johnston than ever, which was the point. Maybe you could offer us a discount on one of the books you already have for sale on Lulu, or for those who already own them, a price break on the next. But best of all would be a look at some of your writings for that British mag I never see, if you're only selling them first use and the rights have reverted to you, via lulu.
Whatever the solution should come from work you've already done or will be doing anyway, and should not subtract from the Johnston family groceries. For example whatever it costs to port me something via lulu, I want to pay that cost. You don't kill the goose if you want the egg.

On the Leica forum a while back Mike Dixon was consistently the best shooter and when he couldn't afford a 75mm another forum member wanted to sell him, we passed the hat. Dixon got the lens, we got inkjet thank-you prints and many fine shots got made with that lens. that's how this should work too, I think.

6:12 PM  
Blogger John MacKechnie said...

Mike, I'm really glad you addressed this issue. I also subscribed to the 37th Frame and received two issues. I have to agree with David that we're getting more MJ than ever and that is fine. I don't require anything else. I suspect that you're a better writer than you are a businessman.

Perhaps you should email each of the subscribers, explain the situation and invite them to join you at TOP. I was delighted to find that you were sharing your thoughts again online. All is forgiven. I suspect that other 37th Frame subscribers might find their way to forgive you as well.

9:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home