Four talented photographers from across the globe share their tips on how to get noticed and published digitally or in print.
There’s nothing quite like getting your photos published, whether it’s an editorial shoot featured within the pages of a glossy magazine or a photo accompanying a breaking news story. There’s a rewarding sense of accomplishment seeing your work come to life online or in print.
However, the path to getting your work published isn’t always that easy. Producing high-quality photos in what is a highly-competitive industry doesn’t necessarily equate to getting published. Being a professional photographer is as much about being business savvy as it is about the photos you produce. How you sell yourself and your photos can set you apart and determine your success.
Working hard is key, and working smart can see the return of your efforts multiply. We spoke to four successful photographers spanning the globe from Australia, South Korea, Ukraine, and the United States, who shared actionable tips and strategies to get recognized and published.
How to Develop a Successful Pitch
Pro Tip: Compile a List of Contacts
Getting your work in front of the right sets of eyes can be the difference between getting your photos published or not. To ensure you’re targeting the right brands and publications, it’s essential to determine your compatibility.
Do your styles match? Do they feature photos in your genre or subject matter? Do you have brand compatibility? These are the kinds of questions adventure photographer Nicolás Marino automatically asks himself before deciding who to work with.
“I probably wouldn’t pitch Vogue the images I took of gold miners in the middle of the Sahara Desert,” the Perth-based photographer explains. “I look for clients and publications that somehow align with my interests and my line of work.”
While being accommodating with potential publications or clients is necessary for establishing a compatible working relationship, it should never compromise your vision, values, or beliefs. “I will reach out to publications that align more or less with my view of the world,” he continues. “I try to avoid selling my work to publications that may use my images to convey a message that I’m in conflict with or flat-out against.”
Pro Tip: Understand the Client or Publication’s Needs
Regardless of who you are vying to work with, it’s essential to determine and understand their needs. Establishing what they need from you enables you to craft your pitch to meet those needs. It allows you to make informed decisions about what photos to highlight and how to sell them.
Having worked in a newsroom, Nashville-based Editorial photographer Laura Thompson learned first-hand the importance of considering the needs of an editor and its role in getting published.
“From working at the New York Daily News, I learned that editors are busy people—they have a small window of time to select photos, limited space to include photos, and budgets they have to stick to,” Thompson explains.
“Editors need photos that will work in a variety of placements on a print page or online article. They also like to see a full story in one image,” she continues. “You can almost always improve a photo by taking three steps back—a photo can always be cropped in, but you can’t recover a lost scene. The more context, the better.”
Pro Tip: Identify and Fill Gaps in the Coverage
Whether you’re covering inauguration day or taking product photos, take into consideration that you’re competing with thousands of other images, and an editor or client only selects one. Being strategic about what you cover and how you cover it is key to cutting through the noise and giving your photos a creative edge. Photographer Laura Thompson establishes a need for her photos by identifying holes in an outlet’s coverage and takes photos to fill them.
“The question I’m constantly asking myself is: ‘What can I provide that an outlet doesn’t already have access to?'” Thompson tells us.
“I look for story angles that outlets aren’t covering or don’t have, while on an assignment. I look at what other photographers are overlooking and position myself accordingly on a shoot,” she continues. ”I anticipate the moment, and I work for the shot, sometimes waiting an hour for all the elements of a good composition to line up.”
Pro Tip: Curate Your Pitch
Sending blanket pitches might save you time, but what good is saved time if you don’t accomplish anything? Be sure to personalize your emails by addressing the decision-makers by name and include information and work you know is relevant to that specific brand or publication. South Korea-based photographer Yeongsik Im always factors in research and time when curating his pitch.
“I spend a lot of time thinking about which photos to showcase in my pitch that is applicable to that specific client,” he explains. “I research the client, decide what they need, and provide stock photos with the most competitive features.”
How to Get Noticed
Pro Tip: Expand Your Reach via Stock Agencies
Visibility is essential in getting your photos noticed and published. Submitting your work to a stock agency gives you global visibility, meaning more opportunities to make sales.
“Stock image outlets are always helpful to reach the eyes of tens of thousands of potential clients that you couldn’t even dream of reaching on your own,” photographer Nicolás Marino explains. “Shutterstock is a great vessel to serve that purpose.”
“As photographers, we need to get our work out there to be seen by others, at least if you intend to make a living out of photography,” he continues. “Without visibility, your chances are none.”
Pro Tip: Choose a Niche That Is Also Your Passion
Marrying your passion and line of photography is not only good for the soul, it’s beneficial to your work. Ukraine-based landscape photographer Evgeniy Biletskiy says aligning his specialization with his passion outside of work allows him to channel all his efforts on his photography and excel in it.
“When you find your niche or specialization, and it’s also your passion, you can give all your energy to it,” Biletskiy explains. “When you love what you do, it shows in your work.”
“Photography is my work and my hobby. There is no division—it is all connected for me,” he continues. “I chose landscape photography because I love nature very much. I never think about when I have to go to work because I’m already there. This is my life.”
For more tips on becoming a professional photographer, check out these additional articles:
- 7 Photographers Share Tips on How to Become a Professional Photographer
- Creating a One-of-a-Kind Portfolio: Color Branding for Photographers
- Mirrorless vs. DSLR: The Pros and Cons Examined
- Outsourcing Editing for Photographers: What You Need to Know
- What is Stock? A Guide to Creating with Stock Photography
Top image by wattana.