If you want to become a professional photographer, travel blogger, or simply love photography as a hobby, you may want to look at submitting your photos to magazines to get your work published.
There is nothing quite like seeing a stunning photo that you have taken appear in the pages of a magazine among the work of other talented photographers. We all love a little self-gratification and praise, and being published in a magazine has to be one of the most rewarding things a photographer can experience.
Aside from the outstanding feeling of elation and pride, submitting photos to magazines is also a great way to get your name out there and get your work recognized. Taking the first steps and submitting your photos to various print and digital magazines could lead to so much more.
Imagine if your work is picked up by professionals and you end up becoming published in the National Geographic? The sky is the limit and magazine submissions is one of the first things you can do. This guide looks at what to consider when making submissions, and how to submit photos to a magazine to get published:
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Phase 1: Preparation & Submission
Before you actually make your submissions, you must first ensure that you are fully prepared. Submitting your photos to a magazine is no different from a job interview – would you go into an interview without researching the company, thinking of potential questions or preparing yourself thoroughly?
If you simply send off some random photos to a magazine without any forethought and consideration, you will undoubtedly fail and simply waste your time. The following are several vital things to consider before choosing your photos and magazines to submit too:
Phase 1.a – Ensure you have a large range of quality content
Yes, we know this might be stating the obvious, but if you don’t have a portfolio of exceptional photos, you can’t submit anything! You have to remember that photography magazines are only looking for the best – they want a collection of ultimate photos that impress their readers and help generate more views and revenue. Furthermore, you are competing against hundreds of other photographers, so you really must have something exceptional to offer.
Ensure that you have a portfolio of fantastic images that really shine – the quality must be perfect, the resolution must be high, and the subject and composition must be varied, interesting and unique.
Phase 1.b – Create a submission template containing your important info
Once you have a magnificent portfolio, you can then look at formulating a submission template with which you can send to magazines. A template is an important tool to use as it can speed up the submission process, but it will also ensure that you have provided all the information required to be successful in your submission. The following are some important pieces of information you should include in your submission template:
- Full name and business name
- Contact number
- Email address
- Website address / Blog
- Any business insignia such as a logo
Once you have these items in place, you can look at writing a short introductory paragraph explaining a little about yourself and your experience as a photographer – keep it short as editors will quickly get bored!
Phase 1.c – Expand your template and make it unique
Now that you have the basics for your submission template, you should inject some style, charisma, and uniqueness into it. Remember that editors will undoubtedly have to sift through a heap of photography submissions, so you need to make your stand-out! Think outside the box, be creative – just do something to make your submission noticeable.
You can use this submission template over and over again and simply change the wording to match the magazine and the person you are addressing.
Phase 2: Choosing the Right Photographs & Magazines
So, you have a perfect submission email/letter ready – you can now look at which magazines to submit too, and which photos to use! The below are some pointers and advice to consider when choosing a magazine and submitting your photos:
Phase 2.a – Select the right photos for the appropriate magazine
If you have a magazine in mind, you must choose your submission photo(s) carefully. Do not make the mistake of simply selecting your best photo and assuming that will be enough. Unless that photo happens to fit the target magazine perfectly and match their requirements, then the sheer quality of the photo will not cut it. Consider the following before choosing your submission photos:
– What is the genre of the magazine?
– Is there a specific theme they require for submissions?
– What type of photos have they featured in previous editions?
– What types of photos appear to receive the most attention?
Take time to analyze the magazines you intend to submit too. You must have knowledge of what they expect and what type of photos they regularly feature to choose the perfect photo of your own.
Ensure your photo matches their style and content, and that it stands out and offers something different from previous photos they have published.
Phase 2.b – Avoid sending the same photos to different magazines at the same time
It is a common misconception that you can simply submit one photo to a handful of different magazines and have it published in each one. Whilst this would be simply fantastic, it can actually prove detrimental to your career and future potential work. Firstly, if several magazines notice that you have submitted the same photo, they could feel that you are lazy, or this could even break an exclusivity agreement you have with them. In most cases, if you submit a photo to a magazine, they may want rights to it, and forbid you to publish it from another source.
Secondly, having the same photo published in several sources will also diminish your creativity and skill – why have one photo published in three magazines, when you could have three different photos in those same magazines? Submitting different photos to different magazines will help boost your repertoire and show to potential clients that you have a fantastic and diverse portfolio and are not just a one-trick pony.
Phase 2.c – Which photography magazines to use?
Now we get to the actual magazines themselves, which is what we are sure you have been waiting for! We now look at how to submit photos to a magazine to get published. There is a plethora of different magazines that publish photos on a weekly or monthly basis for various purposes, niches and industries.
If you specialize in a particular type of photography, then we would advise looking for a specific magazine to suit your work. For example, you may specialize in garden photography, or travel shots, or engineering photos etc. – find a range of magazines that suits your needs the best.
To help you get started, the following is a list of some popular online photography magazines that accept submissions for publication:
- Unsplash – This website is actually a photo repository that beginners can use to promote their work and get published online.
- Outdoor Photographer Magazine – Magazine based on outdoor and landscape photography for those who have a great appreciation of our natural world. Also contains photography tips and tutorials.
- F-Stop Magazine – Features contemporary photography from around the world and was established in 2003. Each edition features photography pertaining to a particular theme.
- Landscape Photography Magazine – Gorgeous landscape photography from around the world. Magazine editions usually concentrate on a particular type of landscape or condition.
- Aint-Bad – Magazine that features a range of contemporary themes and modern art.
- Black and White Photography Mag (UK) – Only black and white compositions are displayed in this magazine covering a range of different subjects from portraits to landscapes.
Furthermore, the online portfolio provider Format, composed a list with over 30 websites where you can submit your photography work.
Consider looking through the above list and getting a feel for their style, and what their submission page entails – you can then gain a better idea of what you are up against. If you are successful in your submission, then please let us know!
Phase 2.d – Check the submission criteria
Once you have selected a handful of magazines, you should look carefully at their submissions page. Each magazine may have different criteria for submission, therefore, don’t simply think that you can do the same for each magazine. The following are some considerations to think about when checking the submissions criteria:
- Approved image file type (JPEG, PNG, PSD, RAW etc.)
- Minimum image resolution (If you submit lower than this, your image may not scale properly)
- Maximum image file size
- Approved file name format
- Are photos allowed that have been heavily post-processed?
- What theme, subject or composition guidelines are there?
These are typical criteria that may be specified. For example, the Outdoor Photography Magazine criteria state that the image must be JPEG format of at least 10 or maximum save quality, 300ppi, RGB color scale, and contains your full name at the start of the filename.
Criteria such as this will usually be contained within a checklist that is easily visible in a bullet format – just be sure to read the entire submissions page carefully so you don’t miss something important!
Phase 2.e – Understand the agreement and usage rights
Finally, you must fully understand how, when and where your image will be used and what rights the magazine has. In most cases, the submission page will also contain a paragraph relating to copyright information and usage – this will outline what you are agreeing too, and how your image will be used by the magazine.
For example, the F-Stop Magazine website copyright section states:
You are granting F-Stop Magazine a non-exclusive license to use the photograph in its submitted form, subject to re-sizing to fit the magazine format, for publication on the F-Stop website for as long as the website exists.F-Stop Magazine
Ensure you understand your rights, and that you are happy with how your image will be used.
By now, you should have everything you need to submit photos to a magazine to get published. We hope you have found this guide beneficial and that you now feel confident to create your own portfolio and start making submissions of your own. This really is a fantastic way to promote your photography brand and to show the world what you are capable of with a camera!