A Confidential Prospectus for a New Magazine

life magazine prospectusI received an inspiring gift from a friend the other day that I thought I’d share with you here. Chew on it over the weekend. Hopefully this resonates with the creative part in you as it did with me. I made me want to make stuff even more and share it with the world. It is a confidential prospectus for a new magazine:

THE PURPOSE: To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things – machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see our work – our paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to: the women that men love and many children; to see and to take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed; Thus to see, and to be shown, is now the will and new expectancy of half of humankind. To see, and to show, is the mission now undertaken by a new kind of publication, THE SHOW-BOOK OF THE WORLD, hereinafter described…

This new magazine? LIFE. This is the opening paragraph from Henry R. Luce’s 1936 original, confidential prospectus for what became LIFE Magazine. I couldn’t help but be wildly inspired by the concept. It’s a passionately written piece on the power and potential of photography, as well as a wonderful slice of history.

We all know the plight of magazines, but this gave me hope for their new era, whatever it might look like. Just think about how much more wildly capable we are today to actually deliver on this purpose and this promise. We have the internet. We have devices, screens and even still papers in places where there are no screens or fiber channel chords-to share now more than ever before. More than ever before we have our cameras with us day everyday and the means to digitally pipe this information around the world in a millisecond. The rest of this prospectus is worth a read. Link for download is after the jump.

A downloadable pdf of the original LIFE Magazine prospectus is here.

Enjoy and share. Have a great holiday weekend.
*note that I inserted gender neutral rhetoric in two places. Reference the original on the pdf if you care….

Thanks @johnnyvulkan for the gift.

74 Responses to A Confidential Prospectus for a New Magazine

  1. Wes Brown July 1, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Very inspiring.

    Thank you.

  2. Ollie Gapper July 1, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    Awesome, just awesome. Passion acts as a foundation to success.

    • Gordon Fraser July 1, 2010 at 11:59 am #

      That is pretty inspirational stuff.

      I found a copy of an old Life magazine lying around in an abandoned building. It was from the year Hilary and Tenzing climbed Everest for the first time. I was amazed at the breadth of topics covered. A photo journalistic story about their epic climb followed by a technology piece about the new mighty transistor technology and how it was changing the postal service and telephony…..amazing.

  3. Diego July 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    I love LIFE. They have a great app for the iPhone that I browse with regularly :-)

  4. bellasqueeza July 1, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    I had an English teacher in High School that allowed us to read a novel of his choice or from a stack of old Life and Time Magazines during our 30min reading period. I always went for Life Magazine….always, simply for the fantastic photos that told the story themselves.

    Thanks for sharing Chase, very inspiring indeed. And here’s a shout out to Chet Malek, 12th grade (senior) English teacher at Newport Harbor High – the best damn English teacher I ever had (although, he still would be embarrassed by my grammar and punctuation). :)

  5. Michelle Sibley July 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    Thank you for sharing those beautiful and inspired words from the depths of a creative soul! Kindred spirits we all are. Much love for your blog Chase. I am a faithful reader of all this Chase-afied!

  6. JJ July 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    You Were Born An Original. Don’t Die A Copy!

    “There is something about yourself that you don’t know. Something that you will deny even exists, until it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s the only reason you get up in the morning. The only reason you suffer the shitty puss, the blood, the sweat and the tears. This is because you want people to know how good, attractive, generous, funny, wild and clever you really are. Fear or revere me, but please, think I’m special. We share an addiction. We’re approval junkies. We’re all in it for the slap on the back and the gold watch. The hip-hip-hoo-fuckin’ rah. Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy. Shine on you crazy diamond, because we’re just monkeys wrapped in suits, begging for the approval of others.” Says Jake Green in Revolver, 2005.

  7. Anthony July 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    I think a magazine would be amazing. I’d buy it or subscribe to it. DO IT!!!

  8. bimal nair July 2, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    “the purpose…” mentioned is such a tremendous inspiration that i am going to put it up in huge bold fonts on my bedroom wall. Thankyou so much for sharing Chase!

  9. Gary July 2, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    My favorite part on page 7: the new magazine was planning on crashing Realmleader Hitler’s Alpine party. Ah, a different time, no?


  10. Tim Skipper July 2, 2010 at 3:59 am #

    That’s great, thank you for sharing. I am starting an idea I got from a photographer north of me called the 365 Project. Its to shoot some creative image every day of the year and share that image with people through blogs, etc.

    The purpose to keep the creative juices flowing. This sums that up very well.

  11. David July 2, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    That’s pretty much awesome! Interestingly, Henry Luce is directly responsible for the fact that I am a photographer today. Part of his legacy is the Henry Luce foundation, a part of which is the Luce scholars program, a grant program which sends 15 twenty-somethings to Asia every year to expose them to Asian culture. . .essentially to see life and the world. My wife received the scholarship, we lived in Taiwan for a year, and I learned to take pictures. I definitely owe Mr. Luce and now his grand-children who run the organization a big thank-you!!

  12. Donnie Bell Design July 2, 2010 at 6:23 am #

    With current technology, I’d like to see magazines go online and change to include more of a social media-type interface that allows for pictures to be posted as they happen. When Twitter and Facebook are used properly, as they were during the protests in Iran last year, they can have a powerful impact. That’s something magazines need to recognize to help make themselves more timely.

  13. Shaun July 2, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    I love the line: “Cameramen who use their heads as well as their legs are rare”…

    Thanks Chase

  14. Becky July 2, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    I am part of the generation who grew up with Life Magazine. My parents has a subscription along with Sports Illustrated and I know that they were huge photographic influences for me. I remember that it came in the mail every Thursday and I was usually the first to get a hold of it. Now I work in an antique shop part time and get to go through the vintage copies we get in to sell. Wonderful stuff, thanks for bringing it up.

  15. Ken July 2, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    I grew up viewing LIFE. Loved their photos, still do. They offered a poster of the moon over Half Dome by Ansel Adams…for $1 -2 bucks. I ordered one…(this was back in the 60’s). So cool.

    Chase, as you’ve demonstrated, creativity is nothing new…it’s a quetion of where you let it take you. Opportunities abound to go to another level … Glad to see some of the best…coming from your shop.

  16. Todd July 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    I thought I was reading text for a new magazine in today’s era. Pretty cool.

  17. Nat Thompson July 3, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    That made me teary.

  18. Ken Toney July 4, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    “not sure that they won’t get a whacking surprise”, now that is awesome!

  19. Zolt Levay July 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Of course, Life was a phenomenon, probably not repeatable in this time and culture, so different from the mid-20th century. Life brought together images, text, and layout in a unique, powerful way, driven by storytelling. The media landscape is vastly different today, with so much more and louder content available at a click 24/7. But, great journalism is still alive and great photojournalism can still thrive.

    I see tremendous promise in new devices such as the iPad, which provide a platform akin to the magazine format but with a richer visual experience. Perhaps this can spell the resurgence of a more economically and ecologically sustainable magazine and newspaper industry.

  20. William July 5, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    My uncle was on the cover of Life Magazine at the end of WWII. This was how my grand parents found out he was alive. He was listed as Missing In Action Presumed Dead for a year and a half. The cover showed my uncle and his captured prisoner Dr. Ley in a Jeep near München.
    I grew up with Life Magazine. Great stuff for photojournalists.

  21. Martin Beebee July 6, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    I find the premise of the proposal (section I) really interesting: “. . . nowhere can he see the cream of all thef world’s pictures brought together for him to enjoy and study in one comfortable sitting. No publication devotes itself . . . to the business of supplying the biggest and best packages of pictures which it is possible to produce at a popular price.”

    And yet, this is exactly what we’ve come back to: ever smaller micro-niches of content, thought, pictures. It seems harder and harder to find and see “big picture” (excuse the pun) views of the world. Just waxing nostalgic? Maybe. Maybe not.

  22. Thomas Flight July 13, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    I think the best magazines have yet to be created. They will just probably not be in the form that we’re used to. We just have to take the initiative to create.

    I wish there was a LIFE magazine of this day and age. I’d read it. I’m 17 and I love all this social media, but I have a huge desire and love for simplicity and minimalism in this very complex world. Especially in the area of magazines now-a-days; good grief, who designs those.

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  1. jamiepang: Blog » Blog Archive » Just Before You Head Out For The Photowalk - July 22, 2010

    […] This inspiring post by well-known commercial photographer Chase Jarvis, could not have come at a better time as I’m prepping up for the Worldwide Photowalk. He points us to a fantastic piece of prose that I won’t sully by trying to paraphrase. Just head on to the link and read it for yourself. […]

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