How can I get published? That’s becoming a common question that pops up in my inbox these days. It’s the dream of many aspiring nature photographers, to see ones images on the printed page. Whether it’s the grand notion of one’s photographs gracing the pages of National Geographic, or the far more common and obtainable pursuit of publishing with smaller markets, working with magazines holds a distinct allure and prestige for many.
I’m not going to lie. I’m one of those many. I love working with magazines. Like all those photographers who ask me questions about how to get published, in the not so distant past (I’m only 31 and started selling to magazines my first year in college) I was asking the same thing myself. Today I count myself as a lucky man to be able to follow my dreams as a photographer, and I still get a rush of excitement when a magazine arrives in the mail with my images in it and even more so when I randomly pick up a magazine off the shelves and happen to stumble upon one.
There are a lot of different ways of approaching this goal of getting published in magazines ( and even more articles, books, and blog posts on how to do this). So instead of listing off and discussing all the different possible outlets like stock agencies and photo need lists, I am going to just cut to the chase and tell you what has worked best for me.
I realized a while back that I was fighting an uphill battle trying to get my images in front of editors at just the right moment. With billions of photographs to choose from these days, and seemingly countless stock agencies to pimp those images out, the notion of selling stock photography can be quite daunting – especially for new comers competing with old hands with 30 years’ worth of images being represented.
Like most, I played the game. Sales would trickle in as editors filled gaps with an image of mine here or there. It was exciting to see this happen, but let’s face it, a trickle is not going to grow a business. So I decided that I needed to change my game plan on how to do this. I needed to find a better way to market my images to magazines. Once I started trying to figure out how to NOT follow in everyone else’s footsteps, all sorts of ideas started coming to me – most of which have worked very well for me and are still in practice.
The most important realization though was that it would be a whole lot easier to make a living doing this if I sold a bunch of images at once to a magazine instead of just one at a time. So just how do you go about doing this you ask? Start writing.
You see, magazines are constantly in need of content. Though some people just flip through magazines for the photographs, first and foremost, a magazine is vehicle for the written word. Selling stock photography to magazines (there are other markets of course) is the business of trying to help illustrate someone else’s story in that magazine. So I thought to myself, why not cut to the chase and write the article myself? By doing so, I am actually able to CREATE A MARKET FOR MY OWN PHOTOGRAPHY. Instead of one image, hypothetically speaking, the sale is then for 15 to 20 images, a potential cover shot, an image for website marketing of next month’s issue, AND the price of writing the story which can range from $300 – $5,000 in and of itself. So instead of lets say, a $100 sale for a small image to go along with someone else’s story, you turn it into a $2,000 sale as a complete package yourself.
Best of all, writing for a magazine is the fastest way of building a relationship with an editor. Once you have done this, than the rest begins to fall in place for you with that magazine if you work at it. You see, marketing is all about relationships, not bombarding people with your name and company logo. Once a potential client gets to know you, they are more willing to keep turning to you for other assignments and needs which translates to more articles published and even stock photography needs that never make it to the email lists and agency requests.
Most people hate to write. If you’re a nature photographer though, you might consider getting over yourself on this one. Sure it can be laborious – especially starting an article – but practice makes perfect. So my advice for someone who is looking to break into selling and publishing photographs with magazines, is to start learning about pitching articles to magazines instead of photos.
To Be Continued. . .