Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Get Published!!

Becoming a published photographer in a magazine can jump start your career and get you noticed by the right people.   I’m writing this article to help all the photographers out there that dream of seeing their work published, but don’t know how to go about getting it noticed by the right eyes.

 First and most importantly:  SHOOT RAW IMAGES EXCLUSIVELY.  If your images are in JPEG, maybe you can find a magazine that will run them but chances are not high.  Photo editors like to have full control over final edits and it’s rare that you will be performing your own edits.  This is why they prefer RAW.  A raw image is just what the name says it is, RAW.  It’s completely untouched and the camera did not sharpen and process the image to save space on your memory card.  When your shooting RAW, the images will look just like JPEGs on your camera because the camera will still create a JPEG preview.  So don’t be surprised when you get home and the image looks dull compared to what you saw on the back of the camera.  You, or the editor, now has full control over making it very contrasted and saturated (like the camera) or a little more lifelike.

Always do your research before you contact publications.  Look through previous issues and the types of images they run.  This will give you a great idea of the types of photos the magazine prefers and will help you narrow down your submittal.  If your shots are too different from what the magazine is running, they probably won’t be interested in using them.

There are thousands of magazines around the world that need photos.  If you have a great photo, then chances are you can showcase it in one.  Head to the bookstore or newsstand and you will find many great potential publications for you work.  Another great way to discover publications is through the Photographer’s Market Book

Publications run on a schedule.  They like to run certain images/articles at specific times of the year.  If you want to send them a winter shot, then you should send it in spring.  They generally run about 4-6 months in advance.  The same goes for a summer image.  Send it to them in the fall, and it will be published the following summer.  If you are looking for quick profit, you generally won’t find it with magazines.  They pay after publication, which can take over 8 months after receiving your image.  The main reason to try and get published is for the recognition, and to create a name for your self.  You will have to have a LOT of your images published every month to make a good living off of exclusively editorial work. 

Photo Editors are VERY busy and coincidentally are your most important contact for the magazine.   They don’t have time to look through all of your images up front, and prefer to send you their guidelines first.  Their e-mails are usually listed somewhere on the magazines site, and I find this is the best way to approach them.  Send in a very short e-mail and your chances for a reply are much better.  I like to ask for submittal guidelines with the word “submittal” as the subject.  I also include a link to my web gallery, so they can see that I am a solid professional photographer and not just a random person with a point and shoot. 

Hopefully, after you send the message, you will hear back within a week.  If you don’t, it’s not out of line to send the same e-mail again the following week.  This works just as a little reminder to them, and maybe they were too busy to reply when they received your first contact attempt.  If you don’t hear back after another week, try sending an e-mail to someone else who works at the magazine.  The art director will usually be a great, responsive contact.  Since they are all working for the same company, whoever you contact will probably be able to help you out.  If all else fails pick up the phone and call the editor directly.

Once you have the submittal guidelines in a reply from the editor, your line of contact is open.  E-mail them with any questions you have regarding the guidelines, and hopefully they are very responsive by this point. 

Most magazines are looking for fairly low-res edited JPEGS (that you edit specifically for the submittal) or samples from your RAW files.  Some will require you to include the RAW files, while most will request them only if they decide to publish an image.  Whatever they prefer will be stated in their guidelines.  Make sure you follow what they are asking EXACTLY to avoid any difficulties or frustrations with them. 

You may also need to keyword all of your images for their computers.  The more accurate keywords you can provide, the better the chance of having the image published.  For key-wording purposes, I use Adobe Lightroom software.

When you are picking the images, do a fairly tight edit.  You should only submit your BEST or most RELEVANT work so as not to waste their time or change how they feel about you.   Editor’s will appreciate this and are more likely to give each image a fair shot during their selection process.  The images you select must be completely 100% available for publication.  If they have been used in a major media outlet first, the publication would like to know that.  Do not duplicate your submittals to other magazines of the same content and in the same territory! It will be very tough if they decide to hold the same shot, and you may lose one of the publications altogether.  If a magazine does not select some of the relevant photos, it is OK to send images to another magazine.  You just have to be certain that they are not very similar to any that the first magazine had chosen.

Once your submittal is finished, they will instruct you to either FTP the files to them, or send them the images on CD.  I prefer the FTP method because I know that they receive the images.  If you send them via CD, make sure to follow up and verify that the disc was received.  Publications will almost never send your CD back.  For FTP, I use software called Fetch on my MAC, but if you use a PC then SmartFTP is great software.

 Once the magazine obtains your submittal they will hopefully begin editing it within a few weeks.  If they like some images, they will send you an edit showing which ones they will hold for publication.  The contact sheet they send you is by no means a guarantee of publication.  Magazines change all the time, and may decide to run only a few of the many selected photos.  On average I’ve had about 30% of all held images run by a magazine.  I even had a company this year that held 9 of my best shots, and only ran 1 single image… it’s very frustrating when this happens! 

This is why you should begin marketing held images elsewhere if you need the money.  Don’t send them to other magazines, but if you have a client that is willing to pay good money for one of your held images, sell it to them.  Then let the magazine know that it is no longer available.  It may not have been published, but at least you made some money to pay rent for the next month!

If all goes well, you will get a very pleasant surprise one day when the editor e-mails you requesting a high-res version (If they don’t already have the RAW file).   They will give you FTP directions for the image, and within a few months you will see it published!

Regarding payment, you can figure out what it should be by using the editorial calculator.   Though the magazines will generally give you a copy of their payment sheet if you ask.  With editorial photography you will not have to create a price with the bigger companies because they have their rates set.

Once you’ve landed that first publication, spread the word around to clients, and make sure to add it in your biography for new clients to see.  I also like to post them in a photo gallery on my personal site here:  http://cnwphoto.com/published.htm

You can learn more about editorial photography by joining EP(Editorial Photographers) for $50.

That’s the BUZZ today!  Please check back soon for new posts!


Jaakko Posti said...

great post! this is exactly the kind of information I have been searching for! :)

Munro said...

I second that, excellent post!

Munro said...

Picked up the Photographer's Market Book last night, looks good! Now I need to stop reading about how to sell pictures and actually get out there and take some :)

Anonymous said...

Great Post Connor, Thank you!!!

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