Inspiration for My Debut Zine: LIFELESS

Today marks two months since I released my debut zine: LIFELESS. I’ll preface this article by saying that I recognise I’ve produced a lot of content on my debut zine. Of course, some of this is self promotion, but I’m doing this for two other, bigger reasons:

  1. It is hopefully useful to share how I approached my first zine, because you can learn from my successes and shortcomings.

  2. You can learn from the many awesome people that inspired my zine.

If I’m honest, it’s mainly the second one. I have been incredibly fortunate enough to view many great printed works, and if I could encourage you to check them out for yourselves, then you bet I’m going to do so!

If you prefer to consume information in video form, I made a little Behind the Zines Instagram highlight, inspired by Jacob Murphy, that you’re welcome to watch here. However, if you prefer the written medium, or you’d just like more information, than I hope you enjoy this article.

Now then: ZINES! As with every project, I began production of my zine by researching the zines of those I respected in the film community. I budgeted and allowance to purchase a number of zines, and I was fortunate enough to be donated some for the purpose of reviewing them for the A LOOK AT series. This gave me a great opportunity to understand the medium. I’d like to highlight the zines I looked at for my research, what I thought they excelled in, and how it influenced my zine. If you would like a more in depth analysis of any of these zine, merely click on them to view their A LOOK AT articles. In no particular order:

Oddments - Jason Brewer: This zine is exceptionally well made. I personally find it really enjoyable when a zine has a premium feel. That’s not to belittle the home-made, indie production style zines, but I love the feeling of a weighty zine. As for the images, Oddments features sub-narratives with a variety of subject matter. Even though I was intending to produce a typology, inspired by Jason, I wanted to include a variety in compositions in my work.

New City, New Life. - Jacob Murphy: Unique in its design, Jacob’s debut zine is truly wonderful. Even though I envisioned my zine being more conventional in design, I was still able to learn a lot about sequencing from New City, New Life.

From Montmartre With Love - Jules Le Moal: This zine is wonderfully made. You can tell that Jules has lovingly crafted it. The image sequencing and pairing in From Montmartre With Love is simply amazing, and I’d like to think I channelled at least a fraction of this in LIFELESS.

Sketches of Light - Nick Mayo: Similar to that of From Montmartre With Love, Nick’s image sequencing is very well paced, and it makes for an enjoyable viewing experience. Images are paired to highlight similarities and differences, and blank pages are placed for emphasis. I adopted this for my zine. Sketches of Light was also exceptionally well packaged. It made the experience of receiving this zine that little bit more precious. I too invested in better than average packaging.

i keep missing focus but that’s okay because they’re nice photos anyway - James Shaw: Both of James’ zines had a great production quality to them. This zine, in particular, has such an interesting narrative. Having experienced ikmfbtobtnpa, I felt really encouraged to produce something the way I envisioned it; to stay true to the narrative. It also brought into question how people might perceive my work. I became conscious of what I was trying to convey, and how the images i displayed might have been interpreted.

MY CITY - Spencer Reed: This zine was a real indie production. Printed on, what appeared to be, average office paper, MY CITY was well crafted, albeit by Spencer himself. Something that I took from this zine into LIFELESS was the free print. With every copy of MY CITY, Spencer included a free 6x4 print. I really liked this idea as I’ve found that my zines sit on my bookshelf, and can go neglected for a little while. Having a print, or something readily on display to remind you of these awesome printed works is great, and so I too included 6x4 prints with every copy of LIFELESS.

Pleasure Beach - James Shaw: Similar to James’ other zine, Pleasure Beach had a premium finish to it. It felt sturdy and well crafted. Something that I loved about this zine is that the scans of the negatives had dust and marks on them, echoing the notion that Pleasure Beach was neglected. The fact that James used something after capturing the images to communicate something was genius, so I too used a similar idea. The images included in the zine were lacking contrast as I felt this mirrored the LIFELESS aspect of mannequins.

The Fifth Dimension - Steven Cox: Last, but certainly not least, Steven’s The Fifth Dimension is a unique take on something we’re all very familiar with: landscape photography. Steven’s interesting approach comes from an unusual concept, but it means for some unseen imagery. I found Steven’s approach to be somewhat of a typology. There’s a thorough collection of images, all under the same narrative, but every image could stand on its own.

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I have looked at more zines, but these were just the ones I viewed prior to producing my own zine. If you’d like to read these articles in full, or any of the other A LOOK AT articles, you can find them here.

Also, if you’re enjoying this content, and you’re finding it informative, then let me know. I am keen to produce more content on the experience of producing my debut zine, so if you’ve found this useful, let me know here. Also, if you’re interested in grabbing a copy of LIFELESS, then I still have a few copies available. You can purchase them by contacting me on Instagram for £12.00 + shipping.


This article is part of the WHAT I’M WORKING ON series. If you’re interested to learn about other YOUR EXHIBITION photographers and their most recent work, check out the other WHAT I’M WORKING ON articles here.