How PhotoPlus magazine published my photo’s. Twice.
“THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX”
The reason I wanted to start this article with that quote because it forms the basis for what I’m going to share with you.
Many photographers ask “how can I get my photos published in a magazine / book / website” etc. The internet has plenty of information on how to do so, but most involves ‘playing the game’ like everyone else lined with generic off-handed non-advice like “You want to be a photographer? Then just go take photos”.
I would like to offer a different opinion. A non-conventional path. (Note: That’s only path I take for anything, if you don’t like how the pieces are laid -change the game!)
A great book written on this topic is ‘Smartcuts by Shane Snow‘.
Firstly it’s hard to get noticed without photos so you’re going to need to at least take some photos. Excellent photos. No one notices mediocrity.
Assuming you have some excellent photos, we can begin.
Step 1: Start publishing and sharing your photos anywhere you can
I have experimented with many different mediums and places to post/share my work. These include websites such as: Pexels.com -where you share your photos with the world for free, 500px -like a social network for photographers, my own website, various competitions and even places like flickr and pinterest can be good to ‘get your work out there’.
The place I would like to focus on for this article is Photocrowd.com. it’s a website like many other where photographers share their work. One difference is that they regularly run ‘competitions’ on the site.
Step 2: Get exposure
With the competitions which photocrowd offers -many other sites do too by the way, so you should utilise any you can find- it gives photographers a chance to get their work shown to many more people. If you look through some of these contests on photocrowd and in particular the top5/10 entries you might think what I think about majority of the ‘winners’ which is; ‘How the f**k did that absolute bag of S**t photo rank so high?!’
You may enter a bunch of competitions and finish in dismal placings like 631st/784. Do not be disheartened, because if your work is genuinely good enough, it will only take 1 competition to help you get some exposure. The way the voting works is that the community (photographers) vote 1-3 stars on a bunch of photos for what they like best and then the top photos are shown.
However, some of these competitions are ‘sponsored’ and this means there is a special expert judge who can choose their own winners, thus sort of Vito-ing the crowd vote. And if you get a sane-enough judge who actually likes good photos, then you’re on a winner!
So photoplus ran a competition called ‘signs of summer’ calling for summer-themed travel photos shot on Canon cameras (they’re a Canon magazine). The winner get’s an expensive camera bag and the top 10 get published in their magazine.
I entered this photo:
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘HOLY CRAP! That’s an amazing photo, you must have won by a landslide!!’
In fact, I wasn’t even in the top 10, or the top 100…
If the ‘crowd’ would have their way that is. The ‘crowd’ voted for bunch of crap photos and a few decent ones with about a 7:1 ratio of crap:good.
This overall put me in 146th place out of 767. Still very admirable and in the top 25%, but not a ‘win’ by any stretch.
Luckily the expert judge from PhotoPlus had a keen eye for decent photos and picked her own top 10, in which mine was #4! Much better than 146th!
With this, our Photo was published in PhotoPlus magazine for that article. You can view the whole thing here.
But that’s not where it ends…
Step 3: Leverage the exposure
A few days after officially being selected as part of the article, I received an email from the editor asking for details about my title, the photo etc. Instead of just replying with answers and a ‘thanks’ (which I bet the other 9 entries did) I also offered my help.
I offered several ‘guest writer’ topics which I would be happy to write about for their magazine. I put a lot of thought into the topics and their audience to make sure they would suit the publication.
They replied again, politely denying my suggestions for topics but acknowledging that they would be on-topic for their magazine as they had a pretty set structure for what gets published. (One such suggestion was this article I since wrote for beginner filmmakers).
While ‘my article suggestions’ were politely declined, they did however offer an opportunity for me to be the topic of one of their articles which interview professional Canon filmmakers and photographers called ‘My Kit’. Of course I answered YES instantly! What a great opportunity and a generous offer from the PhotoPlus team.
They sent the questions through, I answered them and provided some photos, then a month later the article went to print!
And here it is!
(keep scrolling to view the full PDF)
Here’s me enjoying the magazine (with a post-it bookmark for my article of course!)
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And there you have it. TWO official magazine publications of my photography just by thinking outside the box, putting in the effort and offering to provide value.
I didn’t need to be a ‘big name’ or someone who’s been a photographer for 15+ years. I’m just a guy who takes good photos, makes films and is willing to think outside the box. Most importantly, I take action and give things a go.
Does everything I do work? NO. In fact, most things fail. For every successful endeavor I can name 5-10 failed ones. Time wasted, money wasted, effort for nothing. But you need the failures to find the successes. Keep on going.
50 no’s and 1 yes is still a YES!
Keep in mind this is just 1 way you can go about getting your photos published in a magazine. There are 100’s of other paths like this one which cut out the ‘gate-keepers’ and produce a similar result.
Share your thoughts below in the comments and if you enjoyed this be sure to share it with your friends.