Digital photography has caused a massive surge in the popularity of this once mysterious art. Secrets of the darkroom, once accessible only through years of study and practice, are now widely available in digital photo editing suites. Film which would cost a professional photographer hundreds of dollars over time has been replaced by memory cards with infinite re-shoot possibilities, and the low cost of entry for digital has allowed thousands of new users to jump into the fray with minimal financial risk. With so many new photographers in the profession, it has helped expand the market for both publications and photography opportunities and created new sources of images and places to sell them. But as a new photographer it may seem challenging to get started so let’s take a look at the world of magazine photography.
What Do Magazines Want?
Sure, there are plenty of magazines out there that deal primarily in celebrity gossip or trendy news. Since its not likely you will be booking Brad Pitt into your studio (or sneaking around outside his house), its important to remember that there are thousands of magazines out there that are all dedicated to pretty much everything else. There are magazines on cars, dogs, computers, fitness, home decor, cooking and so many others. These magazines are always on the market for relevant and useful images that fit their niche.
One way to think about it is that these magazines will always need images of their topics and are happy to pay for them. For example, dog magazines, will never stop needing dog photos so why not focus on a specific niche?
How Do I Get Started?
First, you should look for a niche that you find interesting. Whatever topic you love, chances are good that there is a magazine focused on that particular subject. Once youve decided on a market, swing by your local bookstore and grab a few magazines off the rack. Take a look at the kinds of photos they are using, and ask yourself if these are the kinds of photographs that you will enjoy taking. Its also important to be honest with yourself at this step can you deliver photographs that are at or above the quality of the photos theyre using? If not, work on your photography until you can.
Once you’re ready, look through each magazine and find the photo editor or information on how to submit photos. You want to make sure that you understand the magazine’s guidelines before you start otherwise your pictures will likely not be accepted. Once you know where and how to send your photo, send it in. Its always good to accompany the photo with a brief note this is a good place to link your portfolio.
The Waiting Game
Anytime you submit a photo to a magazine, plan to wait several weeks for a response. Magazines are a print media, and even if accepted your photographs will not show up for a few months. Additionally, its always best to only submit each photo to one publication at a time, this way you dont run the risk of having to decline an offer because another editor has chosen to use your image.
Many times, magazine will note their usual response time to be between 2-8 weeks. If you havent heard anything after this time has expired its okay to send a follow-up note reminding the editor of your submission. Just keep it polite!
What’s so surprising about selling pictures to magazines is that the process is so easy. It can be summed up in its entirety by find it, shoot it, mail it. Selling your photographs to a magazine may sound like a crazy idea, but once you get started making submissions, you’ll wish you would have started doing it sooner!