There is more then one way to get your pictures published. Below I describe the way that worked for me, but maybe the job can be done better/easier. If after reading you still have some questions, please add them to comments and I will try to answer.
Traveling the US I work with a lot of creative teams. I noticed that being published in a fashion magazine brings you some sort of validation here. For many people it’s the first thing they mention in their bio (often not even mentioning the name of the magazine). At the same time I often see photographers with publication-ready pictures who have no idea where to start. Guys this post is for you :)
How do I know?At this point I can say that I publish almost everything I produce. Probably with the exception of things that I reserve for my exhibitions. I have been published in over 30 magazines including Elle Swiss, Marie Claire, Forbes, Institute, Atlas and others.
Why you want to publish? Most magazines do not pay you for the editorial just because there are plenty of other talented photographers who want to be at your place and ready to do it for free (and sometimes even to pay the magazine for publication). But being published you are getting two things more valuable then a pay check - visibility and access. Lots of locations, designers and agencies will help you out for free as long as the pictures will end up in the magazine and many clients will chose you over competitors if they frequently see your work on glossy pages.
Are you ready?Below I will tell you about 5 simple steps you should take in order to publish your editorial. It’s easy, but it’s a huge chunk of work too, so before you proceed ask yourself if these are steps you are ready to take right now. Are your works at the same level as pictures you see in magazines? Do you have a good team? Do you know how to tell a story with your pictures? A little footnote - don’t ask your friends and relatives if you are ready. They heard you talking about your editorial ideas, saw you retouching pictures for hours and comforted you when you were upset about that harsh comment in your network. For them you are the best artist in the world - you are their artist. For this decision you need to use your own, professional judgement.
Step1. Research.Make your own database of magazines. Start at issuu.com and pick at least 20 magazines to which you plan to submit your pictures. Important factors in picking the magazine are:
- popularity - what is the magazine’s social media presence? do they have print version? are they represented in stores or are they print-on-demand? how popular the magazine is in your network?
- style fit - is the magazine’s style similar to your style? or maybe your story would be complementary to what the magazine already has?
- appeal - how much the magazine’s concept appeals to you personally? For example with Teo magazine I didn’t see the style fit, but I loved how the magazine looked so I shot a new different series with them in mind.
From now on, every time you see the reference to a new magazine (one of your colleges published there or the magazine started following you on instagram or you just saw a nice picture from them on pinterest) you should look through the magazine and possibly add it to your database.
Step2. Validation.Let’s see if the magazine is a good fit to the particular editorial you are trying to publish:
- do they accept submissions? Normally if they do they have "Submit" as an item in website main menu, there you can find guidelines. If not, they may have a “contact” or “about us” link somewhere on the website or the email of one of there editor directly on the pages of the magazine - those are all valid contacts, I used them and ended up with publication several times.
- do your submission fit? How many looks minimum they except? How many designers? Do they require for the models to be agency signed? Often if you can’t make it in print, magazine have less strict rules for their webitorials.
- mind every little detail. Do they want wetransfer, dropbox or low res pdf? Could some of the items in the look just be marked as “vintage” or do they always need a brand? Never make the item as “old” or “stylist’s own” - editors hate it. If your styling is slightly homemade, just submit it in “photography” rather then “fashion” section.
Step3. Contact.Sometimes you can just fill out a form (for example with fashion world magazine), but more often you have to craft a good cover letter. Good cover letter is concise - it should fit to a phone screen without scrolling. I use this structure:
present myself and give link to my portfolio and FB
tell why I would like to submit to this particular magazine
tell a bit about the series
tell that I also are ready to collaborate with the magazine on the series they want/send them more info about yourself/meet them (here is where most of my interviews came from)
You can use some different structure, but remembers that you literally have 30 seconds to impress the editor.
Step4. Repetition.Do not discard the editorial until you submitted it to at least 20 magazines. Sometimes you will feel down because your letter is being ignored or because someone told you that your work doesn’t fit into the magazine you like. If you feel down, talk to your friends - after all you are their artist :) or go do something else, but return and continue next morning. I had one of the editors being very rude to me because he was just having more work that he could handle, I re-approached the magazine in a few weeks using another contact and my work got published. Some of the magazines ignored 3 or 4 of my editorials and then decided to publish the next one. It’s probably the most difficult part of the process, but you need to get used to it, after all, if you don’t get enough rejections, you probably ask much less then you could get.
Step5. Victory.Victory should be well remembered for it will allow you to tolerate future rejections. Make sure to tell your team, send them the tear sheets, remind that now they finally can use the pictures at their social media, tell them how they did a great job. Don’t forget to also treat yourself.I used to buy a very cool pastry every time my work got published until one day I was entitled to buy 3 at once :)