This is one of the questions I am asked the most: How to get your photography published in magazines?
My work has been published over 70 times in top publications including TimeOut, Huffington Post, Petapixel, The Evening Standard, The Guardian and many more so today I’ve decided I’d share my secret!
First of all ask yourself why it is you want your photos published?
Is it to flatter your ever growing ego (bad)? Is it to make your mummy proud (embarassing but thoughtful)? Or maybe you’re looking to build-up your profile and give it a little more credibility (better)?
We all have various and, I’m sure, very valid reasons.
When you’re a photographer, aside from seeing your photos in prints, the next best thing is opening a popular magazine and finding your work there. Sadly these days print is in decline and most of us make do with having photos published online, there’s nothing wrong with that, just not as tangible and not quite the same rewarding feeling but the flip-side is a reaching a much broader audience.
First you'll need to keep it real and realise you are not the only one wanting to get published, there’s competition out there. But wanting is one thing… some people “want” all their lives but don’t do much “doing”.
In order to get your work shared the general approach, unless they find you first (rare), is to contact publications directly. When I say publications it includes also blogs on various photo related companies' website (think Adobe, Affinity, Billingham Bags...) which can also help raise your profile.
That first contact is equally important as how good your photography actually is. First impressions and all that...
If your photos are great but your email sucks chances are it won’t work.
My top tip is to first work hard on your emailing skills, learn to craft a masterpiece of an email and not a lazy copy/paste filled with Emojis and abbreviations.
People want instant gratification, people have forgotten that things take time and hard work, so make sure your email expresses the fact you work and research more than the rest.
- Find out who is the right person to contact as well as their email (Google search, LinkedIn…)
- Address them by their name (Not “Hey there” or “Greetings of the day”). Don't shorten people's names, it's not always welcome either.
- Be polite and respectful of their time (How many similar pestering emails do they get daily?)
- Make it 100% relevant. Go through your work and choose only work you have scrupulously selected again and again and again
- Don’t copy / paste (People aren’t idiots, well not all of them anyway, they will know if you just emailed half the industry with the same wording)
- Triple check your spelling, never only rely on spell check
So you’ve found the Editor in Chief of a magazine you are dying to be featured in. You’ve written a lovely email and sent beautiful photos… but no reply.
Surely your magnificent gem of an email must have ended up in the spam!
Well not necessarily. It’s worth sometimes chasing people but again use with discretion, if someone really loved your photos… you’d normally hear back pretty fast.
I would advise any of you trying this approach to not get discouraged immediately, as I mentioned earlier we live in a world where people want instant gratification. Just keep trying, there are enough magazines out there for you to email one a day without emailing the same twice.
Possible reasons you aren’t hearing back are multiple but could include:
- Sadly your work is not as good as you think it is. You must be your worse critic!
- Your work was not relevant, you sent fashion shots to a food editor
- Despite my advice… your email was rubbish and full of spelling errors
- You caught them at a busy time and they didn’t read your email
- You emailed the wrong person
- They recently covered a very similar body of work, not wanting to bore their audience
A great way to identify who best to approach is to look at your competitors, people in your niche who shoot similar stuff of similar quality and have already been published.
Most of them (just like me) will brag about where their work was published, usually a section on their website called “Features”.
Do you get my drift?
YESSSSSSSS! That’s right you clever one, hijack their list! Contact the same people who published their work, it’s likely they’ll be open.
Another tip... use social media to engage with publications, it works too (same advice applies: be polite, relevant, etc…)
One final note: Have strong writing skills.
Photography alone is not always attractive enough for magazines but if it can be paired with words which express your utter passion, then you’re onto a winner. It can reward to write an article which is illustrated with your photos and look around if any publishers would consider it. After all it makes their lives a lot easier than having to create original content themselves every single day.
This leads me to my usual plea: Don’t think photography alone is enough.
Get writing today, don’t wait. If you want to write amazing emails and have your photography featured, make sure you are a very good writer and that only happens with shit lots of practice.
Final tip: Why not contact publications which have nothing to do with photography itself but a lot to do with another one of your passions/interest? Say for example you're a landscape photographer but on the side you love taking photos of classic cars. Contact classic car publications. Or if you love gardening... gardening mags...
Voila, I hope this will have given some of you the required kick in the backside to get your photography seen by the entire universe!
Of course drop me a line if you want more tips, my virtual door is always open!