ZINE REVIEW: PORTUGANG BY MASTE17

FFO: HUMOROUS AND RELATABLE PHOTOZINES SHOWCASING BRITISH YOUTHS ON A MAD ONE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY

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Front cover scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’

THE TITLE AND THE CONTENT:

Every photographer should know that the front page image of a zine needs be a photograph that SCREAMS out to the viewer what the series is about. The image has to be a standout image from the series,  it should SHOCK the viewer and the photograph NEEDS to divert the viewers gaze to the action within that frame. The photographers choice of sticking a photograph of a trampled dead snake (i’m guessing or at least hoping it’s dead due to it’s injuries) does exactly that. It’s not your everyday image is it?

The title ‘Portugang’ is defined in depth on the opening page of the zine, which adds some useful context to the series before you actually see the images. The text (printed white onto black using a standard clear typeface) goes on to tell the reader the definition of the word ‘gang’, featuring the use of the word in the example ‘We’re going to Portugal with the gang for Scott’s 21st. It’s gonna be fuckin’ wild.’ This informal touch on what could’ve been a slightly boring definition adds a bit of humour and context to the series, enticing you to read on.

Portugang is the photographers first zine. The 32 page publication features images shot over the 7 days he and others spent galavanting in Albufeira, Portugal.

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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’
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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’

THE IMAGES, PRESENTATION AND DESIGN OF THE ZINE

The opening images to the zine again make the viewer feel  somewhat voyeuristic and shocking, not everyday do you open the first pages to be greeted with an image of a bunch of lads shaving off their mates pubes.. captioned with “I think the evening probably took a turn for the worse when Reuben had his pubes shaved into an arrow.” These images probably resonate more to the demographic of British rowdy lads that go on messy trips abroad like this, but to others (like me) I think the shared experience of seeing these images seem really comical; it’s a laugh to be given the opportunity to peek into the world of a group of mates enjoying a mad one abroad.

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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’

The first couple of pages feature ‘outake’ images mirroring a better quality version of the same image, as seen in the image above. Light leak images are often caused by accidentally opening the back of the camera or through dropping/causing damage to the camera (which the photographer said he did multiple times during the trip accidentally)…I feel this zine benefits hugely from including these ‘accidental’ images, as they appear more like humorous outtakes from shooting  under the influence. It’s refreshing to see that the zine doesn’t just include the ‘perfect’ images, it’s evidently important to the photographer that the publication documents the entire process of taking the images, which is probably more prevalent when the photographer uses a point and shoot camera to photograph action shots on holiday.

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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’

The visual quality of the images is pretty exceptional considering the choice of format/camera and furthermore  most images look as if they’re momentary snapshots into the chaotic trip; given an honest portrayal rather than being awkwardly staged. It’s really nice to see a balance of harsh flash snaps alongside portraits taken in natural light, the aesthetics of the image have been greatly considered in both environments, particularly through the use of colour. Another thing that has been greatly considered by the photographer is the time in which they took each image, the action within the frame (whether it be someone diving into a pool or another guzzling alcohol down their throat has been seen and accurately captured by the photographer to freeze this moment) i feel is  like a contemporary tribute to Henri Cartier Bresson’s ‘Decisive Moment’ (but instead featuring pubes and eyebrow cutting and arses on full show)…

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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’

The quality of the zine has a really nice feel to it and you can tell just by looking at it that it’s printed really well. It’s obvious that a lot of thought, care and probably time and money has gone into the zine being well produced and printed. Not often do I see zines with only 32 pages be perfect bounded! The presentation of the zine is immaculate.

What was also a nice touch is that the photographer hand-posted the zine through my door (well.. at first initially through someone else’s door which was rather funny as one of my neighbours now randomly has a copy of the zine). This obviously very personal zine continued to be given to me directly, which is a rather nice touch as a way to receive the zine! I sadly was out of the house at the time the photographer did this, but it’s always cool to receive work by local artists/photographers in this way!

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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’
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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’

Furthermore when I looked at the zine, both the front and the back cover of Portugang was scribbled on, through Maste hand-drawing his own tag on the front cover and on the back he wrote ‘DIY YOUTH, I HOPE YOU LIKE IT, THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT, MASTE xxx). Many other photographers I know would rather die than to ‘damage’ or ‘alter’ their zine/prints in any way, but what is special about the whole experience of receiving a zine from Maste is that he finds it important to include his  personal touch to his work. This added ‘signature’ adds personal value to the zine from the photographer.

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Back cover scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’
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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’

FEEDBACK (KEY STRENGTHS AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM):

  • The image quality and the quality of the printing of the zine backed up by the simple yet effective concept makes this a killer publication to own. The addition of captioning text is extremely important within the zine too, adding humour and more context which makes the series appear really intriguing. It’s a well rounded project all in all, does what it says on the tin (and even more!)
  • The personal touch goes a long way within a zine, from the making of it to its presentation, which should go hugely appreciated (and it did in my case!)
  • If i had to give constructive criticism concerning the zine, and this is through being extremely nit-picky.. the design/edit of the zine could be more carefully considered. Though i feel the edit of the photographs work very well, through adding captioning text to some images (rather than not to all) does cause issues with the editing process, as some two-page layouts feature a range of having no images captioned to both, and to then having only one image captioned below the photograph in the white space and another placed on top of the image.. The design is therefore a bit chaotic and lacks consistency, but then alternatively I feel that reflects the theme of the images perfectly.
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Scan of Maste17’s zine ‘Portugang’

OVERALL…

A SOLID ZINE. WELL PRESENTED, GOOD QUALITY IMAGES AND OFFERS YOU A LAUGH.

Where can i pick one up??

‘Portugang’ can be picked up via project upcoming for  a fiver! you can buy it via the link below (or through contacting the photographer directly via his instagram)

https://www.projectupcoming.com/store/portugang

You can keep up with Maste’s work here and via his instagram.

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