JPG Magazine Issue 16 I’m not normally drawn to photo magazines that just display what look like a random collections of current work. Often the quality of what’s on offer is inconsistent, and you only get mere glimpses of potentially engaging portfolios.  JPG Magazine is an interesting elaboration of this idea though. Made up entirely of work from jpg members, each issue goes through a two-stage process. Members post their photographs for other members to vote on, creating a shortlist that the editors make their final selection from. Issue 16, at left, is the one currently in newsagents here in Australia. Some of its subsidiary themes like ‘On the go’ and ‘Fresh’ show us the expected cheerfulness of people at play, kids in a street and so on. But the main theme of ‘Human Impact’ provides an essay that makes for a more sustained engagement with the world. One section has individual images by a variety of photographers from all over the world. Two examples from here, ‘Urban Squalor‘ by Tony Oquias, of garbage floating along the river in the Binondo district of Manila, and ‘Flotsam‘, by Kevin Meredith, of cargo ship wreckage off Dorset, are vivid examples of the illustrative possibilities of photography, and of how good editing can make meaningful relationships between images.

Not only are the images less superficial in their appeal than most reader/amateur compilations, together they make up a troubled series of landscapes that are not just confined to the exotic slums of the third world. An adjacent section carries the same theme, but explored by small portfolios from fewer photographers, such as this fascinating one by Eamonn Aiken.

Upcoming themes for future issues include ‘Frenzy’, ‘Fluid’, and a number of variations on ‘Democracy’: ‘Protests’, ‘Communities’, ‘Propaganda Posters’. One of the founders of JPG was Heather Champ, now  managing Flickr, so the participatory nature of the project is no surprise. There’s a positive atmosphere around most web-page projects like this, but I like the actual engagement here with issues that aren’t easily resolvable and with images that aren’t always cool and pretty.

[post amended 30 June 2009]