This post is Day 17 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.
I decided to provide a post on why I thought niching was so important to your success first, and then follow it up with a series of posts that were specific to fields within the photography profession. A great majority of my emails and responses were from people that had specific questions on types of photography. Whether you currently have an interest in a particular field or not, read on. I’ll cover a variety of items that can be taken from field to field, and can help you when you look at growing your own photography business.
“I have a job, but like many people, and am constantly worried whether it will be here tomorrow. I love traveling and can see a time where I make this my primary business, especially after I retire (if there is such a thing). I would like to start getting some of my photos into magazines, but how do I go about that?” Greg
Ah, the lifestyle of a travel photographer. Search the Internet and you’ll find a ton of courses related to travel photography. And with travel being a huge business, its no wonder. Statistics for 2009 show:
- $704 billion on travel expenditures generated by domestic and international visitors
- 3 out of 4 domestic trips here in the U.S. are taken for leisure
- 2.7 percent of the U.S. GDP is attributed to travel and tourism
- 1 out of 9 jobs in the U.S. depend on travel and tourism
And while that’s just the U.S., I know the stats hold true in other places around the world. It’s a big world out there, why stay in one place?
Of course if you can’t travel as much as you like, why not travel through the eyes of others? That’s what most magazines do; they provide us a glimpse into a life we don’t currently have but truly desire.
Start With A Plan
While travel photography is huge in the magazine world, it isn’t the only need within this industry. In fact published magazine titles in 2008 reached 24,440 – a huge number considering many talk of a day when print is no longer an option.
And indeed print may be a dying format now, but with iPads and other eReader tools on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time where we see magazines grow and niche even further. And every magazine in existence today needs photographs. Sure, some rely on stock. But you’ll still find a huge number that look to photography as a way to sell their magazines.
If selling your photographs to magazines is in your future, where do you start? It’s easy to say you want to sell to magazines, but like anything, without a plan it will most likely never happen.
Instead of dreaming about it, do it. What’s your specialty? What do you love to take photographs of?
Find a handful of magazines that are a good fit for your type of photography. You can do a power search online. Or you can use writing sources to find magazine titles:
- Writers Market
- Photographers Market
- Artist’s and Graphic Designer’s Market
- Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market
- Christian Writers Market
If you aren’t familiar with a magazine, head online and do some research. Either invest in a copy, subscription, or check out their online version. In order to provide images for them, it’s a good idea to understand what they are looking for first.
Also head to their website to look at writers and photographers guidelines. In many cases they will list an editorial calendar sharing upcoming features and specials. Keep in mind that magazines work months into the future. You can’t submit something today for an article for next month. So you have to know what they are looking for and submit early.
It’s All About Contact
In many cases a magazine that has been around for a while is complacent. They have people they currently rely on, and are a little more wary of trusting someone new. You have to earn this trust over time, and build it slowly. It doesn’t just happen.
Once you have your list of possible publications, its time to start connecting. Read through their guidelines and find out how people like to connect. Your Market books above will have a ton of information. And with a little research, you can usually find valuable insight on their website as well.
I create spreadsheets and list requirements, point of contact info, and clues to help me be accepted. I copy/paste links to different pages that provide guidelines, and take as many notes as I need. This spreadsheet will be invaluable over time as you continue to build your list.
Then start contacting the appropriate parties. Don’t nag and don’t bother people. Submission should be a regular part of your routine. In some cases you’ll have quick results, and in other cases it may take months.
Did you know there are many media sources on Twitter? And in many cases it’s the actual reporter, editor or publisher that has the account, and is communicating and connecting daily? Which means its easier than every to get on their radar!
Using sources like MuckRack and MediaOnTwitter, you can find media sources all over the world. Find them; friend them; and start up online communications. Again, this isn’t a “quick” solution. But over time, you can build up valuable relationships, and move one step closer to your dreams.
Don’t Forget About Online Sources
The world is changing quickly, and you have to change with it. Because more and more publications are going digital, you have to be willing to share your work in that medium as well.
As more publications drop their printed version and head to digital versions, don’t forget they need images too. They may look at places like Flickr for sources that meet their qualifications. They may search for bloggers that provide resources they can link to. And of course they will need quality images they can use with the stories they produce.
And more importantly, they still pay.
Online journalism isn’t making the career as a whole disappear or become a “free” service. It’s just in the process of changing the landscape. And the quicker you accept each piece, the greater your chance of finding a niche you can truly love.