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Magazines Are Back

Magazine publication has returned! There are 25 to 50 new publications born each month in the English-speaking world.

No, they’re not general magazines; those are gone. Internet newspapers and blogs have taken care of them. In their place have emerged specialized print magazines and single issue ‘topic’ magazines ranging from hunting and fishing to quilting and guns to city, regional and state magazines.

Magazine publishers have a photography budget for each issue they produce that ranges between $20,000 and $50,000 per month, depending on the magazine.

Your question: “How do I find out what they look like, who they appeal to, and what photographic subjects they focus on?”

Thanks to today’s search engines, you can easily find your answer by using a major search engine to research a magazine’s publishing house and special interests they represent.

HOW TO:  Type the subject matter of your interest area (e.g. family living, architecture, fly fishing, children) into the search bar along with the words: “magazine photo guidelines” (or “submissions.”)  Several magazine titles will come up. Chances are you’ve probably never heard of many of them.

As to the kind of photos these magazines want:

HOW TO:  Without having to go out and buy or subscribe to the particular magazine, type the name of the magazine into Google Images, along with the word “cover”. Several dozen past cover shots will come up, which will give you a good idea about the subject areas their photo editors look for.

Many publishers publish more than one magazine on a particular subject. For an answer to what these magazines look like, along with their titles, type the name of the publishing company into Google Images to look through covers.

Chances are, you’ll find new periodicals you weren’t aware of that have an interest similar to your stock photo specialization.

Make the Match

If your photo coverage area – your brand of stock photography – matches the basic theme of a magazine publisher, sparks will fly and you’ll find yourself on their “available photographers list.” They’ll recognize your expertise in the sample photos you send them on disc or LightBox.  (Don’t send attachments. Photobuyers don’t like to take the time to review the attachments of an unknown photographer.)

To become a standard supplier they rely on, your next step is to build a good relationship with the photobuyer at the magazine.

Nine Ways to Build a Relationship with Photobuyers

1.    Present a “give” list. Don’t be a “gimmie.” Don’t contact photobuyers to ask questions to help yourself — help them. Let them know you can provide them with photos in specific areas (the areas you’ve found out are the focus of that particular buyer) and that you are in a position to be a regular supplier of such photos. In the course of your conversations, draw out what specific upcoming needs the particular buyer has, all the while emphasizing what experience or qualifications put you in a position to be an important resource for the photobuyer and his/her publication(s).

2.    Introduce yourself cheerfully. The way you open the conversation will set the tone for the entire exchange and impression.

3.    Be open. Be candid. Be transparent.  Evasiveness or ambiguity won’t work. Beforehand, clarify to yourself your purpose for the call, the points you want to provide to the photobuyer, and then straightforwardly go for it. For example, don’t use the excuse, “I am updating my database.”

A friend of mine always types out what he intends to say to the prospective buyer, and then reads it over the phone in a conversational style. This assures him his anxiety on the phone won’t cause him to forget important points he wants to get across.

Because we are in times of emerging technologies, it’s more important than ever to communicate with the photobuyers you work with. You may be able to help guide them on some sticky Internet or search engine questions, like how to choose keywords and phrases for a search in Google. Because you specialize in an area of great interest to your client, be prepared to advise, but not to lecture, and your consulting will eventually be rewarded.

4.    Be enthusiastic. Exude a sense of confidence. A positive attitude will encourage your buyers to want to see various ways they can use your services. But don’t overdo it to the point of being overbearing or arrogant.

5.    Be complimentary. Offer well-placed, well-meaning compliment about the photobuyer’s publication. Mention a recent page layout, insightful coverage, etc. It will serve you well.

6.    Interest. Briefly bring up one or two current topics related to the photobuyer’s area of concern. The more social you are, the more likely you’ll elicit a favorable response. Again, don’t overdo it! The photobuyer will appreciate your awareness that he/she is busy and has deadlines.

7.    You can share some bits of information you have learned from other sources in the field with the photobuyer, but be careful not to betray anyone’s trust.

8.    Be charitable. Remember that 75 percent of photobuyers don’t have time to return phone calls from unknown (to them) prospects, especially after a deadline has passed. It’s nothing personal. Maintain equanimity and sail on. Persevere with new submissions for new photo needs, and you’ll score at some point.

9.    Understand model releases. Even though model releases are not required 99 percent of the time for editorial usage (illustration purposes in books and magazines), this subject strikes fear in the heart of many photobuyers. Some seem to think they need model releases to protect themselves and their jobs. They’re not fully aware of their or your first amendment rights. When photos are used to inform, educate or entertain, model releases are not required.  If the photobuyer you’re speaking with requires releases, it’s a signal to you to politely end the conversation and move on to the many photobuyers who understand that First Amendment rights mean releases aren’t necessary.


Magazines are back. It’s time to you start finding some photobuyers who can use your stock photos.

[via Black Star Rising]

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