Q&A: A New Magazine Model: Pictory

Q&A: A New Magazine Model, Part 1

Each month for my Q&A, I try to ask a question that not only sparks your curiosity, but perhaps a discussion as well. Lately, I’ve been interested (like most of you) in the future of the magazine industry. Things are changing so fast that just when you think you’ve caught up, something new happens. Because of this, I thought it would be worth the time to focus on people who are not just sitting back and watching things happen, but seeing and chasing the opportunities that arise.

For the next three months, I’ll be taking a moment to speak with people who are impressively tackling the evolving demands of our industry, specifically within the magazine format. For the first of this series, I spoke with Laura Brunow Minor, founder of Pictory Magazine. Laura has thrown out the template and started from scratch here, and the result is brilliantly simple. Big images with a simple interface and limited, meaningful text. Pictory releases a theme, to which anyone is encouraged to submit one appropriate photograph and caption. The best are chosen for the final photo essay and are released.

See my chat with Laura below and please take the time to check out Pictory. For the sake of having pretty things to look at, I’ll also sprinkle in a few of our photographers’ newest images. Click on their names to see their portfolios, and feel free to contact me any time with questions, ideas, or anything else that comes up for you! Thank you to Laura Brunow Minor and keep a look out for next month’s installment! Enjoy!

– Jacqueline Bovaird, Glasshouse Assignment

Ryan Schude


If you have a wonderful memory, you will remember me raving about Phoot Camp, which was created by Laura Brunow Minor. One of our photographers, Ryan Schude, participated in it and clued me in on all it’s glory (see my post about it here). All the while I was excited by Phoot Camp, Laura was already cooking up another big idea. Pictory’s website went live on December 3rd, 2009 and is quickly growing momentum.

Jacqueline Bovaird: Tell me a little about your background…

Laura Brunow Miner: I’m a self-taught designer and a self-taught editor who’s always had a huge interest in photography, way back to when I co-founded my high school photography club. I moved from Kansas to San Francisco almost four years ago and started working for JPG Magazine shortly after as a print designer. In true startup fashion, I was promoted every six months or so until the company went under, and held the role of editor in chief at the end. The layoff ended up being a total blessing as I have had a year to cook up projects like Phoot Camp and Pictory.

Evan Kafka

JB: How did the idea for Pictory come about?

LBM: Despite JPG’s business problems, one thing that was never in question was the quality of the photographs we received. Such gorgeous, surprising stuff. I wanted to keep working with those kinds of photographers and that kind of work. I was also inspired by the Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog — I feel like creator Alan Taylor hit on something important there: that photos can be as beautiful and moving on the web as they are in print magazines. And the practical interface (simply scrolling down to see the content) makes the images a pleasure to view. So I set out to combine JPG and Big Picture, and add in a touch of cultural documentary in the style of  Studs Terkel or This American Life.

JB: What are the problems with the traditional magazine format that you are hoping to address?

LBM: Overhead: distribution, paper costs, busy work, etc. I still love magazines and subscribe to several (Dwell, Good, Esquire, New York Times Magazine, Sunset, San Francisco). I don’t want to see them go away, but I can’t make one by myself from my living room. It’s still amazing to me that I can run Pictory as a solo project (though with much appreciated help from guest designers and guest editors). I’m excited in coming months to roll out a business behind Pictory — if I can make this profitable, I could see many other displaced or burnt out journalists following suit.

Miha Matei


Check out Pictory’s latest updates! Questions? Comments? Email me to let me know what you think!



  1. Very good text. I’ve found your blog via Yahoo and I’m really happy about the information you provide in your posts. Btw your blogs layout is really messed up on the Kmelon browser. Would be really great if you could fix that. Anyhow keep up the good work!


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