A Photographer’s Guide to Getting Published in 2021
In the past, getting published was the only way to get your images out in front of the masses. Now, with self-publishing social media platforms and personalized photography websites, the landscape has changed. We find ourselves wondering if we even need to get published anymore. Here at Mastin Labs, we still believe that, no matter your goals as a business owner and artist, there are still real benefits to getting published.
The Benefits of Getting Published as a Photographer
Getting Your Images Published Creates Connections
When your work is published in a magazine or on a blog, you draw a parallel and create a connection from their style to yours. You are, essentially, aligning your brand with that of the publication and, since people who read that publication are already interested in that style, you open the door to a whole host of new potential clients.
Having Your Photography Work Published Strengthens Your Brand & Evolves Your Style
By getting your images published, you also increase your brand’s strength. Being able to put a trusted brand’s logo next to yours will help you co-opt some of their credibility. It validates and increases your confidence, too. This might feel a bit weird, but as a business owner, you need feedback on what you are doing. Feedback is a major tool for learning and growth and, without it, you can’t keep moving forward and evolving your style.
Getting published pushes you to continue to create great work. Having a goal to get your images published in your favorite publications will propel you to put every effort into your work.
So, now that you understand the why behind setting image publication goals, you need to understand the how.
Best Practices for Photo Submissions
Becoming a published photographer can be a complicated process if you don’t know where to start. There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of being chosen for your photo submissions.
Find your voice. Your aesthetic should be consistent and truthful to what you love to shoot. Your look should be consistent. The publications will vet you; make sure everything they find is 100% consistent and high quality.
Make a plan. A well thought out plan is going to drastically increase your chances of being published over wildly submitting to any publication you can find. Start by creating a database of publications you’re interested in.
Follow Submission Guidelines. Most photography publications are specific with their submission requirements. Read through them carefully and follow them exactly. If you have questions, or don’t understand parts of the submission guidelines, try asking some of your published colleagues or asking for help on forums. Don’t contact the publication (unless they invite you to) because they receive so many submissions, they likely won’t have time to answer your questions. Chances are that some of the seasoned photographers in your community (like our Mastin Labs Community) will have experience with the publication you’re submitting to and will be willing and able to help.
Photography Publications may ask for any (or all) of the following:
- Limited number of images (with or without specifics on which types of images and percentage of each type to submit)
- Stories behind the images/type of session (Bonus Tip: Always a great idea to collect these stories and details from your clients before or during the session so you’ll have them already and don’t have to hunt them down!)
- List of vendors & contact info for each
- Setup of images (including settings and equipment)
- Seasonal submissions or location submissions (ie. Some publications are published four times per year and only accept submissions at certain times for upcoming seasons. Or, some submissions are location-specific and only accept images from that area.)
Don’t submit identical work. Check the submission requirements before submitting to multiple publications. If they don’t specify whether they allow multiple simultaneous submissions, err on the side of caution and don’t submit identical galleries. Publications don’t always give a proper heads up before they publish your work. Submitting the same work to competing publications may lead to duplicate work being published, and this can possibly result in being blacklisted from those publications. Most publications have rules about this, so take them seriously.
Put yourself in the editor’s shoes. It’s important to have a good grasp of what they have recently published, what STYLE of submission they are looking for, and what is seasonally relevant. If you are submitting to a wedding publication that is notorious for its light and airy styles and they just published a light and airy barn wedding, don’t submit another light and airy barn wedding. Try submitting another type of light and airy wedding in a different, equally-enticing location. Also, look through the previous year of their publications and then try to send them something new and fresh. Remember, many photography publications are bombarded with submissions, so submit with the intention of catching their attention and adding value to their publication.
Pitch a Story, if required: If you plan to submit your images as part of a story or a series, pitch the story with your images. Again, follow the submission criteria, but make it as interesting and appealing as possible. If you’re extra design savvy, create a page mockup in the style of the publication, and don’t be afraid to send a couple of variations. Make it easy for them to visualize what your work will look like in their publication. Pro Photo Submissions Tip: It can be easier to pitch an article versus photography alone. If you have the story, write it.
Be professionally persistent and don’t give up! If there is nothing in the submission guidelines that say otherwise, wait a couple of weeks, then send a follow-up email. Resist the urge to call unless explicitly asked to do so. Harassment will not get you anywhere with editors. One subtle, but effective, technique for getting noticed is to follow and interact with the editors and their publications on social media.
Photo submissions are not for the weak of heart and, if you’re not prepared to be rejected, can throw your game off when it comes. However, with so many talented photographers out there in the world, it’s understandable that you’re not always going to get the outcome you’re hoping for. But keep trying, and continue to spend focused time perfecting your style and fine-tuning your approach with all the tips and tricks we’ve given you.
Persistence, an open mind, and a willingness to learn and grow are key to getting your photos published.
Top Publications for Photo Submissions
You now know the process behind getting your photos published, but do you know where to submit them? Getting to know what publications are accepting submissions in your niche and which of those suit your work best is going to make the behind-the-scenes work of getting published a lot easier for you.
One thing you can start doing is taking note of where your peers are being published.That’s a great place to start.. Also remember to include smaller publications because once smaller publications publish you, you are more likely to be considered by larger publications.
And make sure every publication on your list is on brand. Every magazine and blog has a slightly different aesthetic. Choose publications that are complementary to your style.
We’ve put together a list of top publications in various genres to help you decide which one to submit your work to.
Tools For Photographers/ Photography for Photographers
Art and Illustration
Fashion, Interior Design, Architecture
Landscape and Outdoor
Landscape Photography Magazine
Start Getting Your Photos Published
Now, not only are you equipped with the best tips and tricks for submitting to a publication, but you also have a long list of publications to submit to. There are so many benefits to getting published—like gaining credibility, increasing exposure, and reaching out to new audiences—which makes taking the time to submit your photos worthwhile.
If you have questions or need direction, join our Mastin Labs Community or join us on Mastin Labs' Instagram!