The Art of the Photo Zine

I’ve been making and distributing zines for a very long time, dating back to before I was a serious photographer.

The Art of the Photo Zine

Archival Recordings 19


I’ve been making and distributing zines for a very long time, dating back to before I was a serious photographer. Back in my early twenties, I worked at a Kinko’s in Beverly Hills to support myself after moving out on my own. For those of you that are too young to remember, “Kinko’s” was a copy/print shop that was a huge business in the late 90’s/early 00’s (think the “Pop Copy” skit from Chapelle’s Show). Eventually the company was bought by FedEx and the copy centers were all converted into FedEX Office locations, many of which still exist today. I worked there for almost 6 years, eventually becoming a Digital Production manager and handling all of the high end and technical print projects that came in. At this point in my life I was finding my voice as a creative and having access to unlimited printing resources was a truly game changer. That environment led me to begin making my first zines, which were based on my drawings at the time and distributed to my friends. In the years that followed I continued to make zines here and there but it wasn’t until I connected them with my photography practice almost 10 years later that their potential as a creative medium became clear.

Lost Angeles Zine, 2017.

In 2014 I started making photography zines. I had started an online film photography magazine called Snapshot Galleria with two friends, Erwin Recinos (who has an excellent newsletter that you can subscribe to here) and Luis Torres . A large part of that project was a printed zine that we contributed to. I began making personal zines again around the same time and started tabling at local zinefests in L.A. and Long Beach. Although this coincided with my work getting some national and international attention, I kept making and producing photo zines. I love everything about the medium, from the DIY aspect to being able to design everything about the presentation of my work and overall accessibility that zines provide. 

When the pandemic disrupted everything in 2020, I doubled down on my printing practice and decided to pour all of my resources into expanding it. I started my photography series, “The Public Work”, a yearly collection of photographs documenting the descent into and emergence from the Covid-19 shutdowns from street level. I also published several other photo zines and some art/illustration ones also before shutting my Nonstndrd Creative online store down in late 2023. That led me to the beginning of this year and the debut of Archival Recordings, a project that combines what I’ve learned over the years into a new format and direction.

The volatility of the social media landscape has exposed the dangers of trusting any one platform and being dependent on online systems to preserve your body of work. A crucial part of the photographic tradition is lost when everything is consumed on a small screen. My photography is a particularly bad fit for the ways that social media has changed in recent years, which is why I have scaled back so much on my use of it (except for promotional purposes). The newsletter format is the perfect way to communicate the intent, nuance, and context that is the foundation of my practice. Adding a printed zine subscription is an important extension of that, providing a way to share my work in a physical form with my audience.

Updates


Archival Recordings will be present at this years L.A. Zinefest! It will take place on Sunday, June 21st in the DTLA Art's District. More info soon but I'm really excited to see y'all in person.

Peace!
Kwasi B0yd-Bouldin