Learn which photos to submit, which publications to pursue, and how to impress photo editors. Get published with these straightforward steps!
When photographer Kyleen Cleaver and designer Stacey Fay began collaborating on a styled shoot, they were certain of two things: their inspiration would be the 1920’s-era Netflix series Peaky Blinders, and they would get their project published.
For six months, Kyleen and Stacey researched, planned, purchased, and prepared. The result was an authentically styled photography project perfect for publication. Explore Kyleen and Stacey’s challenges below, and getting your photos published with our five-step process.
Step One: What Do You Want?
Recognition is fun, without a doubt! However, before you make getting published your end-all, be-all goal, make sure you define why. Consider your photography portfolio. You’ve filled it with the genre and style of images you most want to make, right? Make sure you create and select your publication submissions with the same approach.
Stay Focused on Your Brand Voice
All publicity impacts your brand – for worse or for better. Make sure you stay in control of your brand voice, and be choosey about which publications you pursue. Your work is best enhanced when it’s published by a blog or magazine whose values align with your brand vision.
Determine What’s Your Reason to Get Published
Establish why you want to be published, which will help you refine your submissions. Here are some examples:
- attract more ideal clients
- build your reputation
- gain recognition from the photography community
- reach a broader audience
“Metrics are great for many things, but sometimes you just need to dive into a creative project that feeds the soul. Passion projects help turn your creative energy and business in directions you couldn’t imagine.”
Step Two: Where Do You Want To Be Published?
Not every photography genre or style suits every publication. Make sure that the publication appreciates your style before you submit a project to their blog or magazine. Each publication has its own preferred post-production style, and they want to publish photos that complement their brand’s look and feel.
“We focused on vintage-minded publications.”
Ask Yourself: Do Your Styles Align?
- Does the publication prefer color or black and white images?
- Are their published photos bright and airy, or moody and dramatic?
- Do they focus on details, portraits, or moments?
- What audience does the publication speak to?
- Do you like this publication, and would you read it yourself?
“We researched publications that might be a good fit and took a risk by pitching solely to Vintage Life and Style. Since they are an exclusive publication, we couldn’t publish elsewhere if they accepted our project. However, getting published by them was worth the risk, so we took it!”
Step Three: Curate Your Submissions
Appeal to your dream clients and the publication’s target audience by carefully curating the photographs you submit. If a publication doesn’t demand exclusivity, you may be able to repurpose your submission for multiple publications. Simply create a unique gallery of photos for each photo editor.
For example, most wedding blogs want detail shots galore! A lifestyle magazine, however, will want more photojournalistic images that feature people. Both features can benefit your business as long as the readership matches your target demographic.
Step Four: Show What You Want to Shoot
You already book amazing clients who want exactly what you do best. If you’re like most photographers, however, you can never have too many dream clients. Make a list of the results you want from getting your photos published. How will you achieve your goals?
Here’s how your list might look:
“I want to…
- . . . photograph more newborn babies before they leave the hospital.”
- . . . book more destination weddings.”
- . . . earn more commercial clients.”
- . . . photograph more nature-loving families.”
Define your top three goals for getting published, and focus on the steps that will get you there.
Get Your Best Work Published
Book more dream clients by showcasing truly only the best examples of your preferred style and genre. If you don’t yet have many publication-worthy photos, plan a portfolio-building session or launch a passion project. These include:
- styled shoots
- free sessions offered in exchange for signed model releases
- personal projects
- any photography that gets you the images you need in order to book the clients you want
“The biggest benefit of the Peaky Blinders photo shoot was the way it elevated our individual brands. Many people in our network responded positively – and immediately – to the photos. Getting published in a major magazine delivered a ‘wow’ factor. It was a real feather in our cap!”
Step Five: Get Published – Period
Sometimes you’ll try and try (and try some more), and you simply won’t be published. Don’t give up! You can still maximize your exposure and make your work work for you.
Maybe your dream was to be published by “Fancytime Megabride Magazine.” If they don’t appreciate your talent, however, consider submitting to “Basic Bride Magazine” instead. It may not be as exciting, but you’ll still earn bragging rights for getting published – and reach a new audience.
“For me, the freedom to create is the key to staying happy and content.”
Ask for Feedback
Some photo editors will tell you why they didn’t publish your photos. But if they won’t or don’t, ask a respected colleague to review your submission. While a photographer friend may do this for a cup of coffee, you can also purchase a portfolio review from a pro you don’t already know. Constructive honesty is the most important factor in any review.
Remember Your Blog
When someone else won’t publish your work, you should publish your work! If you’re diligent, your own blog can become your best source of referrals. Link to collaborating vendors, share behind-the-scenes stories in your social media and take full advantage of SEO strategies to boost your exposure. (More on that, HERE!)
What Works for You?
Tell us: what is your strategy for getting published? Has getting published brought you more clients?
Share your tips and ideas below!