Popular Photography

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For the earlier photography monthly published in Boston, please see Popular Photography (1912–1917).

Popular Photography was a long-running US magazine, inaugurated in May, 1937, one of a series of hobbyist publications from Ziff-Davis Publishing Co.[1]. After 2009 the magazine was acquired by Swedish media group Bonnier[2] who shut down Popular Photography in March 2017—narrowly missing 80 years of continuous publication from New York City.

While Popular Photography had always shared the US market with other publications, in many eras it surpassed all others in page count; and for firms advertising photo goods it was often the preferred venue. Beginning in April, 1940, an index to display advertisers appeared in each magazine (except for a few WWII-era issues); and coupled with its long publication run this makes "PopPhoto" a handy resource for researching the history of photographic products in the US market.

While tips for beginners and equipment reviews always formed the core of the magazine, earlier issues often included surprisingly sophisticated content. For example, historian Beaumont Newhall[3], the specialist in photography from the Museum of Modern Art, wrote a detailed history of photography's first 100 years, published in the January, 1939 issue[4]. In a June, 1940 article on photographing trees, photographer Edward Weston gave such advice as,

"The wise photographer will avoid […] formulas, and if he needs any rules, will devise his own by the time-honored system of making the pictures first and the rules afterwards[5]."

In 1989, Popular Photography absorbed Modern Photography, which had been a competitor for 52 years.

For a time in the early 1950s, the cover title was displayed as "Photography—the magazine of popular photography." Around 2002, the magazine changed names once again, to Popular Photography and Imaging—reflecting the turmoil caused by the growth of digital technology. Within five years it had become clear that "photography" had gone digital so overwhelmingly that the distinction was moot; thus Popular Photography alone returned as the title.

On March 6, 2017, Bonnier CEO Eric Zinczenko made the announcement via company-wide email that the March/April 2017 issue would be Popular Photography magazine's final one; and furthermore no new content would be added to its online site PopPhoto.com. The message cited "insurmountable losses in advertising and audience support"[6]. This decision took place against a backdrop of smartphone photography's increasing ubiquity, and a decline of approximately 50% in standalone digital camera sales between 2014 and 2016[7].

Since October, 2020, the Popular Photography title and website are a property of North Equity[8] alongside Popular Science and other titles.


  1. Ziff Davis article at Wikipedia.
  2. "Pop Photo, American Photo Acquired by Bonnier" at Adorama Learning Center.
  3. Beaumont Newhall article at at Wikipedia.
  4. "Photography is 100 Years Old," by Beumont Newhall, Popular Photography magazine, January 1939 (Vol. 4, No. 1) page 10.
  5. "I Photograph Trees," by Edward Weston, Popular Photography magazine, June 1940 (Vol. 6, No. 6) page 20.
  6. "Popular Photography is Dead After 80 Years as a Top Photo Magazine" at PetaPixel.com
  7. "Quantity of Total Shipment of DSC (Worldwide), Comparison of 2014, 2015 and 2016"(PDF) from Camera and Imaging Products Association (Japan).
  8. North Equity press release, October 6, 2020.