Guest Post By Lindsay Adler
Photos courtesy of Lindsay Adler
One of the most common questions I am asked is, how do you get published in fashion magazines? Its one thing to take beautiful images but how do you take the next step into sharing these with others in a print publication?
It seems that there just isn’t enough quality advice out there on getting published, making it difficult to know where to start! Here’s a few things I’ve discovered along the way that have helped me start to get published!
1) Start with what’s in front of you
When I started to build my portfolio as a fashion photographer, I certainly didn’t start off with agency models or gorgeous women. Instead, I started out with whoever was willing to pose for me! I had to build a portfolio to show my photographic skill first before branching out to other creative professionals like hair, makeup, wardrobe and models.
The first step is to hone your skills using everyday people, environments, props. No fashion photographer has every made it simply by decorating beautiful people with couture clothing. First and foremost, you need to understand light, composition, and how to create a storyline.
The best way to do that is to start with average, everyday people in everyday attire. Think about all the powerful fashion editorials we’ve seen using nothing more than silhouettes. These shots are powerful, and the model’s role is more of an object than an emotive person. By developing your own style and point of view, you will catch the eye of up-and-coming designers and models.
In October of this year my next book, Creative 52, will be available where I provide you weekly challenges to help push yourself to create an invigorate portfolio no matter what your budget or what subjects you have access to!
2) Approach models
Once you have a small portfolio of quality images that showcase your control of light and make your subjects look phenomenal, models will be more likely to accept an offer to work for you. It’s that simple: make people look good and more people will want you to photograph them. Your pockets don’t need to be deep. Most models who are just starting out will exchange their services for access to your photos. Consider reaching out to local agencies, Model Mayhem or Craigslist and provide your images (TFCD- Trade for CD) in exchange for them posing. Usually 3-5 retouched images suffice as pay for their time.
3) Approach Hair and Makeup Artists
Makeup and hair stylists want to see your command of light and the quality of models. When you have a team or hair and makeup, this helps take your work to another levels; they add their own artful finishing touches, adding a sheen of professionalism to your photographs. If you can show hair and makeup artists that you have a solid portfolio with opportunities to highlight their work, you are sitting in a great position to attract quality stylists. If you are having trouble getting started, try your local high-end salon. Negotiate an in-kind partnership, where they trade their time for the rights to use your photos for their own promotional materials. Also consider cosmetology schools and model mayhem when first getting started.
4) Pitch Online Magazines
Now that you have honed your lighting techniques, composition, storyboarding, all the necessary fundamentals, and have a portfolio of great images with beautiful models and hair and makeup stylists, you are ready to pitch your work to publications. Unlike print publications, online magazines have an infinite amount of pages to fill with new images every day (if not every hour). They are always looking for quality editorial content. You can use platforms like ISSUU and MagCloud to find your niche — type fashion in the search bar and pick which publications would be a good fit for your work. Another way to pinpoint potential online editorial targets is to research where photographers you admire have been published. Also, be sure to ask your own creative team (hair, makeup, wardrobe, models) if they have recommendations. Local or regional publications are a great way to start as you build up your credentials.
5) Approach Print Publications
The final step is all about perseverance. Getting in contact with editors at print publications can be a real headache. When I was first starting out, I would send out 200 emails at a time and only get a handful of responses at best! Try to find ways to make yourself stand out and show the publications that you are knowledgeable about what they do. When sending them a message, don’t just say “here is my work, publish me”. Instead, tell them what draws you to their publication and what has recently appeared in their magazine that attracts you. Then explain how your work is a good fit and how you propose you work with them in the future. Do you have specific ideas for a shoot? Perhaps a mood board or collection of images to entice them with? Or maybe you have already completed a shoot that fits their magazines that you’d be interested in them publishing. Having knowledge about the publication is key; what types of designers do they feature (if any), what is their ‘look’ of model, and what style of photography to they publish.
Start to make comments on posts and tweets that interest you. Maybe you have a blog post on a similar topic and you share the same viewpoints. If so, let them know in a personal message or a tweet! This might sound like a big time commitment, but it only takes a few minutes a day and pays dividends. After a while, they will recognize your name and when your phone calls and emails roll in, they’ll be that much more likely to want to speak with you. Its essential to get the right people to notice you, so put time and effort into the editors of your target publications!
If you want to learn more, check out my free workshop with Erik Valind on creativeLIVE August 12-14.
Lindsay Adler is a professional portrait and fashion photographer based in New York. Her editorials have appeared in dozens of publications internationally including Bullett Magazine, Zink Magazine, Fault and more. She regularly contributes to a variety of major photo publications including Professional Photographer, Rangefinder Magazine, and Popular Photography.