Together with Fotostiftung Schweiz, Fotomuseum Winterthur runs the photo library. The library covers the history of photography, documents contemporary works, offers theoretical publications for an in-depth examination of the medium of photography and research according to thematic focal points. The photo library is open to the public.
Fotobibliothek in der Passage
‘A Museum without Walls’ – Allan Porter and the Photography Magazine CAMERA, 1966–1981
To honour the important contribution to the emancipation of photography made by Allan Porter, editor-in-chief of CAMERA from 1966 to 1981, Fotobibliothek in der Passage presents some of the issues of the magazine conceived by him.
The Swiss photography magazine CAMERA was launched in Lucerne in 1922, at a time when photography was just beginning to establish itself as a means of artistic expression. Under its first editor-in-chief Adolf Herz, CAMERA soon became an important platform for promoting and discussing photography and had a major influence on the way the medium developed. During the first 25 years of its existence, the magazine focused on a pictorialist version of art photography. While magazines like Zürcher Illustrierte and Du had started showcasing the New Vision and New Objectivity movements as well as early reportage photography, CAMERA maintained the same focus over a long period. In 1948, under the directorship of Herz’s successor Walter Läubli, the magazine opened up to contemporary discourses in photography, no longer restricting itself to presenting photography with an artistic intention.
Allan Porter (1934–2022) was the last editor-in-chief of CAMERA. He ran the magazine from 1966 to 1981 and helped it to scale the heights one last time. Porter had an eclectic range of interests. He developed a fascination for art and literature in his youth and studied graphic arts and painting at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art. He first encountered photography in 1953 when he worked in a photo lab. After graduating in 1957, he started out working as art editor for the travel magazine Holiday, he helped devise exhibitions in the USA and Europe, was active as an artist and wrote for various magazines. He moved to Europe at the end of 1964 and found a job at the Jean Reiwald advertising agency in Basel. There, Alice Bucher, who published CAMERA after the death of her husband Josef Charles Bucher, noticed him and asked him to reposition the magazine. Porter began working for CAMERA in 1965 and became editor-in-chief in 1966. He had a clear vision for the magazine, which he wanted to use to build a ‘museum without walls’. With galleries and museums that specialised in photography still few and far between in the 1960s, Porter’s CAMERA established a canon of contemporary photography. However, he also provided space in it for the examination of historical, technical and philosophical aspects of the medium. CAMERA became a must for professional and amateur photographers who wanted to keep abreast of things.
The last issue of CAMERA came out in December 1981. Porter tried to remain philosophical about the demise of the magazine. The situation had improved considerably over the previous 16 years and photography had found its way into Europe’s art institutions. Porter himself joined the board of trustees of Fotostiftung Schweiz and remained active, writing articles and creating exhibition concepts.
To honour Allan Porter’s important contribution to photography’s emancipation, Fotobibliothek in der Passage is presenting some of the issues of CAMERA he designed between 1966 and 1981. The exhibits on display include print issues of the magazine as well as draft versions, so-called mock-ups. These mock-ups reveal the creative processes at work behind each issue of CAMERA.