The Story of the Medium Format Magazine

As many of you know, I have been involved in the photographic industry as long as I can remember. I have seen many photographic ideas, websites, publications and businesses come and go. We all know that this is a difficult place to do well, especially during these trying times.

I am on a constant mission to learn everything I can at all times. Thus I subscribe to numerous publications and websites.  I thought starting here I would share some of these with you.

When I heard about the Medium Format Magazine for the first time, I was curious and a bit skeptical. The price seemed to be high and there was not much history behind it. Then, I found out that Olaf Sztaba, a photographer I followed and whose work I enjoyed, was standing behind this new initiative so I decided to check it out. As someone who has done many and varied things in the photography industry, I have always been fascinated by the process of getting a new photographic project off the ground. Heck, I did something similar a little over a year ago launching this site. 

Medium Format on Instagram

Before I go any further, I have to say a few words about the founder of the Medium Format Magazine. Olaf, came into the photographic spotlight almost out of nowhere. I noticed his meticulously written articles and beautifully crafted images on several platforms – not bad, I thought. While his photographic style is original, his personal story is equally fascinating. 

Sixteen years ago, Olaf landed in hospital and for six long months fought for his life. At one point the doctors told his wife he wouldn’t survive. He somehow did survive, only to spend years of rehabilitation including learning how to eat and walk again. During the ordeal his kidneys failed and as a young man in the prime of his life he had to be kept alive through dialysis. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for him. What happened next is truly remarkable. He received a kidney from a total stranger who showed up knowing that he needed her help. 

Olaf as a youngster, it was in his blood
Olaf as a youngster, it was in his blood

Her name is Madeleine and right now they are great friends. This was a big turning point and he decided to fulfil his dreams as a photographer. A few years later he was inspired to start the Medium Format Magazine. If that isn’t a good story, tell me what is! 

Let’s get back to the Medium Format Magazine. As I said before, I was skeptical at the beginning but what I noticed right away was the quality of the editorials and great imagery presented there so I continued as a subscriber. And it got better and better. Now I have been a subscriber for almost two years and I can say I really enjoy it. I see great editorials by some of the best people in the industry, including Bruce Barnbaum, Michael E. Gordon, Harold Ross and many others. 

As Olaf explained to me, all the texts are professionally edited and they work closely with their contributors to ensure the highest editorial standards. It really shows. A feature that I personally enjoy is the monthly interview series, for example with Michael Kenna, Dan Winters, Cooper & Gorfer or the recently announced interview with Edward Burtynsky (whom I did a major video interview with on that other site). They are really in-depth and well done interviews, covering a wide range of subjects and interesting even for me who has spoken with so many great photographers. 


Medium Format on my iPad. All editions are on my iPad
Medium Format on my iPad. All editions are on my iPad

Last but not least, the design is clean and beautiful which allows me to sit down and enjoy photography at its best, without distractions. When you’ve been reading the magazine for some months you realize the value it delivers. While I was writing this piece, I realized that the name “Medium Format Magazine” could be misleading because it would suggest this is for medium format shooters only. Not at all. I have recently been shooting mostly with 35 mm digital cameras and I still find the publication inspiring and informative. It is just great content and photography regardless of what you shoot with. Remember I spent 13 years of my life firmly entrenched in Medium Format as VP for Phase One. 

Easy to read and gorgeous layout

As much as I enjoy the magazine, it is the amazing life story (which I only touched on) and Olaf’s comeback that prompted me to share this with you. This is an especially timely message for all the folks who are struggling during the COVID crisis. Better times must be ahead. 

I download all my Medium Format magazine editions to my iPad and can read them as well as refer to them anytime I like.  Isn’t it great I can carry around what would entail to be many pounds of paper magazines on my iPad.

My friend’s work Harold Ross

Olaf and I are talking about bringing some content curated by the Medium Format team to as well. You will be interested to know Olaf was kind enough to create a special discount for PhotoPXL readers. Please use the PXL20 coupon for a 20% discount on the early plan.

In the very near future you can also enjoy a one on one with Olaf on an upcoming Conversations With episode. I highly recommend Medium Format Magazine.  I’ll be covering a few other publications too too.  Let’s not forget the beautiful and grand daddy of them all LensWork Magazine, Frames and a few more. Also, I will do an article / tutorial how to load magazines on your iPad using the Books app.

Thanks you and please stay safe.        

Kevin Raber
October 2020
Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 50 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of picture taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can, hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through, this site, as well as Rockhopper Workshops, and other projects, as well as teaching as Artist In Residence at the Indianapolis Art Center.

Article Type: News, Columns, MISC

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