As a photographer duo based in Jakarta, one of the fast-paced moving cities in the South East Asia, printed magazines put a huge role to jumpstart your photography career. We thought we’d take this sunny mid-week opportunity to sit down and talk about one of the most frequently asked questions we’ve been getting – “How can I get my photos published on magazines?” That also questioned us back then, followed by trials and errors and along the way, of course. This time, we’re sharing some tips (including a shot of life wisdoms) on how to get your works published. We hope this manual guide hacks will get you a smooth sailing experience. Read on.
Find your Style
Knowing your style goes a long way. It gives you the power to communicate without saying a word. Start by figuring out what kind of photography that you want to pursue. There are endless fields out there. Is it fashion, travel, or food? Then practice. Do a lot of test shoots and personal projects. Shoot things that you want to say. Make your pictures to be who you want to be seen as. This is important to attract your target audience and the magazines that suit you best. Consistency is key, just don’t be afraid to experiment and evolve in time. Knowing yourself happens when you break the distance between your dream self and your real self.
Explore the Secrets of Social Media
Build up your personal brand by putting your works online to get noticed. Keep creating to strengthen up your style of works. Magazines have suddenly realised it doesn’t matter if you have 700,000 or 100 followers, it will depend on who’s right for them. Each online platform attracts a different audience who want different things. On our portfolio website, we only post selected pieces, the ones that we feel most representable of our style to be shown. On Instagram, it is about what’s real and what’s now. For example, a good behind-the-scenes shot on from your photo shoot is perfect for Instagram to make people feel like they’re following you real-time and you’re ready for projects in your city.
We realised that not everyone is naturally surrounded by editorial people from magazines, neither do us. Being well read and well researched is really important, such as knowing which creative directors are at which magazines. After you got their contacts, introduce yourself politely, offer what you can do to collaborate with them, give fresh ideas. In a second, they’ve known you already. Keep an e-mail straightforward with just a few simple sentences accompanied by small images and link that can do the talking. Because no one will have the time to read endless paragraphs or downloading a heavy .zip attachment. Another way is to start small. Keep an eye on fresh emerging zines and smaller-scale magazines. Most times, they are more open for submissions and collaborations from content creators.
Always keep your name cards on handy, you’ll never know who you’re going to meet. It’s all about the conversations and relationships you have. Having worked for worldwide projects made us realize different culture approaches you have to make, depends on the clients. Here in Asia, connections plays a big factor, that’s why socializing can be another form of expanding your circles too. Trust and references are really important here. On the other hand, Western countries are more straightforward, by handing you an important project without having to meet you first in person, as long as they like your work. Adjust yourself to the cultures, because it’s all about investing in relationships to understand the people you’re working with.
In reality, photographers hardly live off from magazines. Most independent publications are self-funded and they work on a pro-bono basis with photographers. You’ll get the exposure, reputation, and freedom to create. This is something you want to do on the side, but it doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Treat yourself as a brand and you’ll notice that it can contribute a lot to your promotional value. Just like putting up your advertisement, this exposure will attract the bigger magazines and real clients.
Keep on Doing
The industry is a big, evolving pool that constantly changing, including the people inside. Don’t be discouraged if at first your work isn’t getting chosen. It’s all about finding that right outlet for your creative works. There will be lots of trials and try not to be put off by that. In the end, when they ask us, “What is your secret to success?”, we can only answer that there’s no secrets, only hard work, passion, and perseverance.