Creative Camera Indexing


Ever since I managed to assemble a collection of every issue of Creative Camera, from its beginnings as Camera Owner in 1964 to its demise as DPICT in 2001, it has been my goal to make this resource web-searchable.

Apart from a couple of printed indexes of published photographers within the journal at various stages of its (mid)life, there is no way of knowing the full extent of its coverage over the years. As there are 358 issues in total the best way of producing a comprehensive index has been a major issue, given the limited resources available to me. In the past I had experimented with a database structure, but the sheer volume and nature of the content made this unworkable. 

With the re-creation of this website under the WordPress platform, an opportunity presents itself to achieve my goal, at least partially, initially…

There is a commercial plug-in available for WordPress that enables the indexing of PDF documents contained within the image library. WordPress does not index PDF files by default.
The PDF files must be text-searchable to start with, which means they need to be produced with software that is able to recognise the text from a scan, identify which parts are images and include them as such, and to save the entire scanned document as a PDF file of a reasonable size – i.e. not too big! Such software exists and I have purchased it.

For an initial trial, I took the 12 issues for 1970 as my test batch.
It’s an interesting year, marking that transitional stage when the magazine started to cater for an audience very different from that for which the original Camera Owner was designed. The change started earlier, when Bill Jay became involved, but in 1970 Peter Turner was on board as Assistant Editor, alongside Colin Osman as ‘Editor & Publisher’, and the magazine had started to settle into the style for which it became famous.

I decided to scan just the covers and contents/editorial page of each issue. The covers because they gave a visual reference and often listed the photographers contained therein; the contents page gave a slightly more thorough indication of the actual contents, alongside the brief – but often contentious – editorial, which I think was written by Colin Osman in the majority of cases, judging by the content and tone.

It didn’t take too long to scan the 24 pages involved, and the software was very quick to read and analyse the content of each. The ‘trademark’ silver covers did confuse it occasionally though, but very little manual editing had to be done prior to conversion to PDF format and the text recognition was almost 100% accurate.

Given that it treats most of the cover content as ‘image’, in future I will only scan the contents pages and ‘Views’ pages. Content named on the cover appears in the list of contents anyway, even though the software was very good at separating text from image of the cover. Eventually, time and/or resources permitting, I would like to scan every page of every issue and each will have its own discrete PDF file.
Image content increases the size of the file, but this one, with the cover images, came out at just over 2Mb, which is manageable. The covers appear a bit odd, as most of the silver background has been lost, so in future I would just use a JPG image.

These are initial ‘test runs’ here: Creative Camera, Jan-Dec 1970 – Contents pages for all issue, plus some content pages from Jan-Mar.
Creative Camera 1971 – covers and contents pages for the whole year.

These are both searchable directly from this site, but the search result for a term currently just displays the name of the PDF document containing the reference. If this PDF document is opened in Adobe Acrobat and the same search undertaken there, the search terms are highlighted when found.

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