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Peter Hughes, True Photo Journal
At work with

Peter Hughes, True Photo Journal

True Photo Journal is a large-format photography magazine that showcases unpublished personal projects by commercial photographers. Always a rich source of imagery, it mixes work by established and emerging talent and is produced by London branding consultancy Assembly. We catch up with creative director Peter Hughes as issue three of the magazine is published.

How was your weekend?
Very relaxing after a busy week before it.

Tell us about your journey to work.
I cycle to our studio in De Beauvoir from my house in Walthamstow. It takes about 20 minutes. If I take the bus I listen to podcasts (Desert Island Discs, TED radio hour, The Stack) or fast-paced wake-up music.


Describe the state of your desk.
Today… pretty clean! Not always though.


Which magazine do you first remember?
Growing up in the Midlands reading i-D, Dazed and The Face.


Which magazine matters to you the most today?
I don’t favour a single magazine. At the moment, the magazines I’m inspired by are 032c, Double, Document Journal, Self Service and System.


Which photography series is most exciting for you today?
I’m most excited by the personal work of photographers as it shows a true and uncompromised side of their art.

How do you source the unpublished stories that you feature?
Every story comes about following a coffee or Skype call with photographers we contact because we respect and admire their work.

We’re always really honoured if the photographer likes the magazine and is up for collaborating.

A misconception of the magazine is that we feature predominantly pre-existing and unpublished work. Actually the majority of our content is shot especially for the journal.

As an example of where we feature an unpublished story, we have just worked with Mark Steinmetz for issue three. For this story we worked with guest editor and photographer Ben Weller to shortlist Mark as someone we feel is very relevant to photography today. As someone who shoots mostly in black and white, we were interested to know if Mark had ever worked in colour. We were really excited when he proposed a beautiful series of unseen colour photographs taken in the American South, during the mid-2000s. The final outcome is a truly never before seen side of his work.

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True has always released each issue with a triad of covers. Why?
We don’t have specific themes to the issues, so it’s really hard to pick just one cover that sums up the whole issue. The different covers are intended to highlight the diversity of stories within the issue.

Pick a spread from the new issue and tell us what it says about your magazine.

I like this spread from the series, ‘Devils Lake’ by Daniel Shea. If you don’t know the deeper concept (In Daniel’s words, ‘The photographs explore political narratives told through symbols, land and social identity, particularly that of white men, as magnified by a volatile presidential election cycle.’) it’s still a beautiful and very modern pairing of images and layout.

For me this is a nice example of how we love to publish work with real substance, not just beauty.

What are you finding most frustrating about your work this week?
If something is frustrating me, I’ll stop and try to work out why before carrying on with it. Nothing good ever comes out of a frustrated mood!

What's going to be the highlight of this week for you?
Later today I’m viewing the space where we’ll be hosting a launch exhibition for the new issue during Men’s fashion week in January. We’d love for you to come down and say hi. Follow our Instagram for dates.

What will you be doing after this chat?
Alongside working on True, I’m also creative director at Assembly. After this, I’ll be catching up with the Assembly team to review the work done last week and discuss plans for the upcoming week.

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