|Picture Your Life By Mark Oliver. Guardian News Blog, March 17 2006.
Karen magazine has been described as a "white knuckle ride of the mundane" and an antidote to the celebrity-fixated media.
Its creator, Karen Lubbock, gathers photographs and snatches of conversation and other things, like shopping notes and leaves, from where she lives in the village of Rodbourne Bottom, Wiltshire, or wherever she goes on her travels.
So far there has only been two issues - it comes out irregularly - but the magazine has already won an award from Emap and attracted a cult following. Issue one has sold out.
Inspired by Karen magazine, and after the success of Dogs Unlimited last week, News blog is asking readers to send in photographs that capture the curious, beautiful thing we call "normal life".
Lubbock will pick out her favourite from the entries and we will send the winner a copy of the current issue of the magazine. And you may even convince Lubbock to use the image in the next issue, which will appear later this year, and is likely to feature lots of things about food. That doesn't mean you have to stick to sending images of food - images and vignettes about anything at all will be considered.
The magazine's success reflects what seems to be an increasing appetite people have for showing and consuming this quirky kind of material. It seems to share some of the sensibility of a certain kind of flickr addict.
The images include a seagull, its beak messy from eating a chocolate mousse; the sign on a door in a care home; a giant plastic dinosaur; photographs of plastic bags, apparently holding dog waste, hanging from a post in a park. Vanity Fair, it is not.
Asked what kind of qualities she looks for in the material she selects, Lubbock - a graphic designer and former social worker - says: "I take photographs but I am not trained and don't really worry about the craft of it in that way - if there is something in the background that's a bit of an obstruction, that's fine. What I am looking for are things that tell a story or make you feel a certain way, whether it be sad, or poignant, or happy."
The magazine's growing popularity has presented her with a pleasant dilemma. At the moment she sources most of the material herself but she is starting to be emailed more and more submissions for the magazine to her website and is wondering how far she should go in using other people's input.
She says: "I think one of the thing's that people like about the magazine is that it is personal and I would not want to lose that. Perhaps the place for other people's photographs and stories is another magazine that we could create."
Lubbock agrees that there is tension in the magazine because while it is personal there is no photograph of her or much biographical information. She remains a kind of mysterious presence - and that's how she likes it.
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