Nostalgia, anxiety, femininity, and remembrance: these are topics that appear in the second issue of Chapman’s new LAB 140 photography magazine. The student-run magazine developed to display the photographic works of Chapman’s students and alumni has come out with two issues so far and is currently developing its spring issue.
LAB 140 was first published in August 2017 by editor-in-chief Lia Hanson, who created the magazine. Students from all seven of Chapman’s undergraduate schools showcased their work in the opening issue. The second issue was published in February and examines deeper themes such as childhood, friendship, and loss.
“A good photo evokes a feeling in the viewer,” Hanson said. “It holds their attention and makes them ask questions. Emotion and curiosity affect someone’s taste.”
The magazine is organized into two sections: the first designated for individual photographs, and the second for a series. LAB 140’s production team begins creating their publication by meeting as a team to discuss which images they will include, and which they will turn away. They select their images through a blind review, considering the strength of the work both in subject matter and technical execution. The final stage of the review comes when the selection of works is placed on the wall to examine what will fit the flow of the issue.
“We put all of the photos on the wall and see what sort of works together,” creative director Tia Ruszkowska said. “We are looking for more than just landscape photography. We want to see more new creative ideas.”
The team strives to construct each issue around photography of diverse genres. Composition, coloring, focus, and lighting are all technical aspects that are evaluated during the photo admission process.
“We have a mix of instincts and personal tastes that allows us to avoid falling into one style,” Hanson said.
The magazine emphasizes photography that tells a story. Each image submitted comes with an artist statement.
“A good photo stands out either by the way it is shot — something is unique and visually interesting about it, or by the statement that comes along with it,” Ruszkowska said. “A concept behind an idea stands out right away to us.”
The magazine team says they focus on photographs that tell a story to give the visual elements more power.
Eli Weiss, a student photographer featured in LAB 140’s second issue, says that he first was introduced to the magazine through a friend who submitted their work to the first issue.
“When I heard they were taking submissions for photos, I decided I’d give it a shot,” Weiss said.
After being featured in the magazine, Weiss’ photos claimed more popularity around campus.
“One person that I didn’t know came up to me on campus and told me they liked my photos,” Weiss said.
Why didn’t some submissions make the cut for the second issue? Images that are not chosen may not fit the theme or series of that particular issue. The artist is welcome to re-submit their work at a later opportunity and will be considered for a separate issue.
“The admission process behind each photograph is very accommodating to the artists who submit them inside or outside of the art department,” Ruszkowska said.
The first issue, of the two so far, included a photo from each person who submitted something. With their second issue, the magazine opted for a more selective process.
“We chose the more interesting ones, composition, and color-wise, and you can tell when a photo stands out from others,” Ruszkowska said. “We always try to give more of a reason to say ‘yes’ than ‘no.’”
Although not everyone can be included in the issue, the team reaches out and encourages those who didn’t “make the cut” to try again. LAB 140 aspires to be a positive space for creating powerful photography, according to the magazine staff.
“I think making work is the way to make better work,” Hanson said. “It takes time and failure and a lot of ‘bad’ work to start making stuff that you’re proud of.”