As DPG’s new Photo Editor and the former photo editor for a major dive magazine, I just want to let you know I am here for you, the photographer.
I want to whip your promotional skills in shape and get your name out there. I do this, because I care—just call me the ‘fairy for photographic advancement’. And so, I present to you the three-step ballet that I call the photo editor’s daily routine:
Step 1: Creep around on the Internet to find contact information for someone with gorgeous photos I would like to publish.
Step 2: Receive email from said photographer, who writes, “ ‘That’s wonderful, thank you for contacting me, I would have never contacted you myself”
Step 3: Bang my head against the nearest wall. Repeatedly.
Andy Sallmon’s work has been published in magazines all over the world
The First Step: Sending your Images to Photo Editors
So the question is how to eliminate step three. Why would you, the photographer, not contact me? You spent all this money on equipment, you put your work on Facebook and flicker, and I know you’d like to be published.
Sometimes there’s a good reason, like not being able to find contact information for the photo editor of a magazine you love (which I will cover later on), but most of the time it’s because you think your work is sub-par. Well man (or woman) up! The thing about photo editors is, you never know what they are looking for—each one has their own eye, or preference for the style or tone of an image, and every issue carries some new story or challenge to find images that fit.
I guarantee that most photo editors will keep your work in a folder somewhere for future use if you send it their way. It makes their life easier and adds a personal touch to your work, showing that you took the extra effort to seek them out and had the courage to put yourself out there.
Joe Tepper got his penguin published in print in both Scuba Diver-TTL and Scuba Diving magazines
Unsure your images are good enough? Look at an issue of the magazine you’d like to submit to and see what you have in your portfolio that may fit stylistically. You could also go as far as asking for a critique, but I would only do this if you absolutely must because photo editors are extremely busy people and may not have the time.
The key is not to be discouraged if your work isn’t published right away. They may not be covering the location of your image in that particular issue. It’s also probably not the best idea to contact the editor every week and ask them when your work will be published, it stresses them out and makes them think you will be a pain to work with. I would suggest waiting a month to contact them and see if they liked your work. Honestly, what have you got to lose by submitting? Ten minutes of your time? TAKE the time!
Bartosz Strozynski made it to the cover of Scuba Diver: Through the Lens
Label Your Images
Ok, so you’ve taken a swig of your courage juice and are submitting images. One mucho important detail to keep in mind is labeling. I know it’s a pain. I know you just spent 16 hours editing your images. I get it. But the photo editor needs this information; so take the time to correctly label your metadata.
Include your name, contact info, detailed location of where the image was taken, (include dive site names if you can), species name, date, and a little fun anecdote about the image itself, (ie: ‘And this was right before Randy the dolphin got a little too friendly…’).
Most magazines have caption information they need to include with each image, so if you can provide this ahead of time it will make things go much more smoothly for the editors during ship time.
Follow these tips and you could have a two-page spread photo in a magazine soon!
Making Contact with Photo Editors
Lastly, I want to address the contact info issue, as this is something that comes up quite often. Every magazine is different: Some publications openly advertise the name and email of their photo editor, while others try to keep it a secret for all eternity.
The best way to find someone is go to a book store, grab the mag you’d like to submit to, look at their masthead – that’s the page that lists all the names of the staff, usually towards the front of the book – and make a note of the photo editor’s name. People in the publishing realm tend to move around pretty frequently, so if your email is bounced back, chances are they’ve moved on.
Tragically, most magazines don’t have their masthead listed anywhere on the website so good ol’ fashioned print will do the trick. Online, the best you can do is use the general “contact us” email on the site and hope it goes through.
Once you have the name of editor (this is part that going to get a little creepy, so I apologize to photo editors everywhere, my bad), literally Google them. See if they have a Facebook, (or if the magazine has one, in which case you can send try sending a Facebook message that way), Flickr, LinkedIn account, twitter, anything you can find, and either send them a message via that site or see if their email is listed.
If that doesn’t produce results, try finding the phone number of the publishing house that carries that magazine and ask to be connected with the photo editor. And if THAT doesn’t work, then you can contact the editor. PLEASE NOTE: Even though photo editors’ are busy people, the editor of the magazine is even busier, so I would strongly suggest to not contact them unless you have no other choice. The photo fairy has spoken!
Now get out there and submit your work. Seriously. Right now.