The article requires a login, so I am cutting and pasting here. Sorry for the length.
November 1, 2005
Updated at 06:26 AM
CARLOS OSORIO / TORONTO STAR
Taku Kumabe found a home for his amateur photos (and yours) by starting his own magazine.
An image becomes a reality
Taku Kumabe often found himself looking at professional photos in magazines thinking, "I can do that," or even, "I can do better than that."
But the 29-year-old amateur photographer found it impossible to get his work noticed — let alone published. Figuring he wasn't the only one in that predicament, he decided to act.
The result is the inaugural issue of U & I Magazine, an impressive 60-page publication featuring photographs, stories and articles from 20 worldwide amateur photographers, many of them explaining in detail their techniques and inspiration.
"The content is made by people like you and I," says Kumabe, explaining the title. "It's about giving people a chance to publish their photos and at the same time tell their story and inspire and teach readers along the way."
It's exactly the kind of chance he hoped for all those times that he was rejected by travel editors who wouldn't give him the time of day.
The first string of rejections came last year following a backpacking trip through Europe, which he went on after graduating from Ryerson's Graphic Communications Management program in May.
When he returned home to Toronto, family and friends were so impressed with his photos that Kumabe decided to shop them around.
He was rejected at every turn. So he compiled his favourite snapshots and stories into a PDF magazine called "europebound" and printed off a bunch for those closest to him.
Shortly afterwards, he took off again, this time to Japan. After a month-long trip he again returned with a slew of photos that garnered great praise from close friends.
But once more he tried to get them published, and was turned down. On that occasion, his pictures found their way into "inJapan," which he also designed, printed and distributed to a select few.
Although Kumabe landed a full-time gig earlier this year as an editorial and ad designer, those earlier memories remained with him. He dreamed of creating U & I.
Before launching into the venture, he surfed the Web to see if similar publications existed. He couldn't find any, which further fuelled his resolve.
While the Internet makes it easier for people to share their talents in cyberspace, there are few photography-based publications that showcase the works of everyday individuals, even online, he says.
So for the next four months, he toiled away on his PC late into the night, researching photographers to profile in his inaugural issue and collecting and sifting through their stories and photos.
After creating U & I as a PDF, he again scoured the Internet and found http://www.lulu.com
, a print-on-demand service provider in New York to create his magazine using the latest in digital printing technology. The service means anyone who wants the magazine must order the publication before it is printed and bound for and delivered to each customer.
That's because unlike the traditional method of printing — whereby one pays up front for a large print run and then simply hopes that the publication sells well — PoD isn't costing Kumabe a cent. The customer, who pays $20 US per magazine, plus shipping fees when ordering through lulu.com, is the one who incurs the cost.
But because shipping costs can be high, Kumabe has forked out around $3,500 to a local printer for 200 magazines that he will personally sell to those in the GTA for $20.
While some may consider $20 a bit steep for a magazine, the quality of the magazine and breadth of its content make it worthwhile, Kumabe says, adding he's had no financial support from sponsors or advertisers.
The magazine, he says, will be a seasonal publication, and will always feature a few regular sections such as: flickrVision, a section dedicated to showcasing the works of those who use the popular online photo-sharing site flickr.com; and Your City, which will showcase pictures and stories by photographers about their hometown.
"In future it'd be great if I could feature more Toronto photographers. But right now I'm taking this one step at a time," says Kumabe.
"I want U & I to act as another portal for photography enthusiasts to show their best work and, hopefully, inspire others along the way."