Podcast: Vince Aletti's “Issues” - The Magazine is the Medium


On this week’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we welcome a true photography legend—curator, critic, and author, Vince Aletti. Anyone who lived in New York in the 1980s and ’90s, and is interested in photography, will know of Aletti as the photography critic at the Village Voice. He went on to review photo exhibitions at The New Yorker until 2016. He has also curated exhibitions at the International Center of Photography and White Columns gallery, and has authored many books, including his latest, Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines, which he joins us to discuss.

In addition to his writing and curating, Aletti is a collector, and has created a collection of the most important issues of fashion magazines from the past 100 years. The book, Issues, employs that collection to offer a history of fashion photography as it was meant to be viewed—in magazines, and our conversation focuses on the context of the magazine as “the ideal delivery system” for the best photography of several generations. We discuss the beginning of fashion magazines and introduction of photography to that format and we spend time discussing the work of Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Steven Meisel by looking at issues of magazines for which they were the primary, if not sole, photographer. The production of these magazines—Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Italia, The Face, for example—are mentioned, as are the creative directors, editors, and stylists, but the point of this enlightening conversation (and Aletti’s book) is how great photographers have used the specific format of the fashion magazine for their ground-breaking and ever-evolving images.

Today also marks the beginning of the B&H Photography Podcast Panasonic LUMIX S1 Sweepstakes. Follow the above link for the rules and entry guidelines and you’ll have two chances to win a new Panasonic LUMIX DC-S1 Full-Frame Mirrorless digital camera with 24-105mm lens or a Panasonic LUMIX DC-G95 Mirrorless digital camera with 12-60mm lens. Also, look for the upcoming special episode of our podcast with Panasonic LUMIX Global Ambassador Shiv Verma.

Guest: Vince Aletti

Above photograph courtesy Vince Aletti and Phaidon Press

“Harper’s Bazaar,” October 1934, Harry Meerson. Collection Vince Aletti. Courtesy Phaidon
“Vogue,” June 1, 1940, Toni Frissell. Collection Vince Aletti, Courtesy Phaidon
“French Vogue,” May 1939, Erwin Blumenfeld; from “Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines,” Vince Aletti, Courtesy Phaidon
“British Vogue,” June 1947, cover: Irving Penn; spreads: Clifford Coffin; from “Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines,” Vince Aletti, Courtesy Phaidon
“Fashion & Travel,” 1954, No. 1, 1955, No. 2, Bert Stern; from “Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines,” Vince Aletti, Courtesy Phaidon
“The Face,” July 1980, Corinne Day; from “Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines,” Vince Aletti, Courtesy Phaidon
“Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines,” by Vince Aletti, Publisher: Phaidon
Vince Aletti on the B&H Photography Podcast © John Harris


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves

1 Comment

Excellent work, Allan and team. This was a really enjoyable listen. I have been working my way chronologically through Issues for a couple of months and very much loving it, so it was extra special and a treat to hear from the man himself in his own (spoken) words. Thanks again!