It was Mark Twain who said (or didn't say, depending on which internet source Google takes you to) "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" - but, for the moment, Front magazine's current issue is sadly their last. After 16 years and 191 issues the alternative lads mag has ceased to be. It's not the first lad's mag to hit hard times recently. The original lad's mag - Loaded - has gone through two resurrections in the last year. Front itself has had six different owners/publishers over its lifetime. It may yet rise again. But probably not.
A (very) brief history...Front was first published in 1998 as a response to Loaded. A slightly late response admittedly - Loaded had been around for four years by that time. The 'early years' were not the alternative mag that Front brings to mind now - cover shoots included Jo Guest, Pamela Anderson, Jordan, Christina Aguilera...and, to be honest, at times it looked pretty much like Penthouse. But over the last five years it pretty much single handedly brought alternative glamour into the mainstream, certainly in the UK. Yeah, I know - Suicide Girls. But that's American.
I first shot for them in October 2011. I'll admit - shooting for them had been a personal goal. The style and tone of the shoots had been pretty much defined by the completely brilliant Zoe McConnell, but it was a style that fitted my own. The shoots looked fun. They weren't retouched to fuck. Probably why Front had as many female readers as males.
Over the next 18 months I did a dozen cover shoots for them plus various features and opening shoots. The shoots were always...interesting. I shot some genuinely great models and worked with some of the most fun teams I've ever worked with. We shot in the dodgiest student houses through to £multi-million mansions and even my own living room. I shot Australian metal bands setting fire to pigs heads and got chased off beaches in Devon. I had to deliver images almost before they'd been shot to meet impossible deadlines and once popped over from a family holiday in France just to shoot a cover before getting the ferry back. It was just...fun.
So it's genuinely sad to see them go. I'll leave others to speculate on the reasons why, to analyse the slow decline of the lads mag genre, to point at the zero budget generic copycat shite that's available for free on the internet...or at least I might just leave that for another post. To Steve, Adam and the rest of the Front Army - good luck guys. You'll be missed.
Some of my favourite shoots below...