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Photography Question 
Chris Stotesbery

Submitting Photos to a Magazine

I am looking for methods to submit digital photography to specific magazines in a professional package. Links to explanations, books, or other advice and material would be very helpful.
Thank You,

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1/12/2005 11:19:20 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Contacting the magazines and getting their "Submission Guidelines" is always a good first step. They will outline their specific methods for submissions - be they digital, slides, or prints. It's wise to follow their instructions TO THE LETTER.

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1/12/2005 2:42:27 PM

Chris Stotesbery   Thank you, Bob, for your response. I had not thought of writing for Submission Guidelines. I looked through the specific magazines and only found generic information on unsolicited submissions. However, what if, after writing the magazines, their guidelines are a bit vague? Would you have other suggestions for preparing the photos, especially digital ones?

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1/13/2005 6:04:02 AM

Marketing to magazines is challenging and agonizing at best. I have marketed to magazines - as well as ad agencies and designers - for 25 years, and at various times had good relationships with various magazine photo editors that led to sweet assignments and stock sales.
Do you know the names of any photographers whose work you see published in your favorite magazines and maybe even idolize their work? If so, count them now as your competitors, because your work will have to stand out better than your competitor's. If your image is so unique and no one else in the world has anything like your shot, you will have quicker success.

For marketing, 99 percent of all promotional material from photographers hits the "round file". When you could start putting photos on CDs, everybody started doing portfolios on CD and the magazines loved them because they were new and a novelty. They are not a novelty anymore as we all get junk mail each day containing CDs. Photo editors rarely take the time to look at a cd anymore, unless it is from someone they know about. Then came email and everybody started marketing with email. Now it is considered spam and an irritant and often blocked by a Spamblocker. The only thing I have found that has a chance for success - and many of my colleagues would agree - is direct mail promotions. But like all advertising, it has to scream at the client. I gave up years ago designing my own promotional materials and started hiring a graphic design pro to design for me. Let's face it, there are too many of us out there, and your success will come from standing out ... big time! Good Luck.

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1/13/2005 9:30:55 PM

Chris Stotesbery   Thank you, Charlie, for your candor and professional response. You highlight some key problems.
For my edification: Rehash of the key points:

1. Your boss, friend, and colleagues are now your competitors. Hum, that's a lot of people. :( I tried to ignore this point, believing in a utopia of there is money for all, but alas, I must face the music. I need to become one of the top photographers in my area of desire. I have a bit of work to do. :)

2. Come up with a unique way to present your material to the magazine or customer. Realize the majority of ideas have already been used. 99 percent will end up in the trash.:( Good thing CDs and DVDs are generally cheap in cost. :)

3. I need to come up with very unique pictures. This will improve my chances of getting photos printed in the magazine. I just started to realize that novelty sells. I have ideas.:O
Again, I have some work to do. It helps to know what I am up against. Good thing I am not to easily discouraged from my path. :P
PS. This explains some of the odd discussions I have had with editors and other photojournalists in my area of focus.

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1/14/2005 7:31:51 AM

You mentioned in your original post that you were seeking advice on marketing to magazines and based on your signature “Upstart Chris”, I gathered you were breaking into the business. The points addressed in my post were based on real experience of what I believe and what I know works for marketing. Your reply leads me to believe that maybe you “misunderstood” my point, and I thought I would address your "Key Points" and clarify what my point was.
First, I did not say that your boss, friend, or colleagues were your competitors. What I said - in essence - was that if you get published in a magazine it is because your image was better than the others submitted. How do you make that a regular event? Your portfolio of images stands out above the competition. Every time you get an assignment from a magazine, you have replaced somebody before you. You do that with work that stands out above the rest. If snowboarding is your area of expertise and you want to work for those magazines, your work must be better than someone in their pool of photographers. If you get the assignment, it’s because your work stood out.

Second, I did not say that all ideas have been used, but rather out of the three main ways photographers have marketed in the last 15 years, two have generally become "undesirable" to photo editors and art directors. Certainly, this is my opinion and how did I form it? I asked! For 20 years, I have asked hundreds of photo buyers what types of photographer’s promotions catch their interest. I have also gotten hundreds of different responses and from here I was able to form my opinion. These questions are also where I learned that 99 percent of photographer promotions get tossed. I have been told by art directors that they sometimes get as many as 15 promotions a day from photographers. Obviously, the only one they keep, if they keep any, are the ones that stand out. Those get tacked to their wall. Web sites? We all have to have them, but photo buyers don’t surf the 'Net for people to hire. That is, because the photographers have already found them. You still have to promote to get them to your site.

I also am co-founder and an owner of the online stock photo agency, where I currently am Director of Photography. This is the second stock photo agency I have owned and subsequently been heavily involved with marketing strategy. What we have found is that a CD portfolio does not generally work without an eye-catching promotion that convinces them to open and look at it. They also seem to work better after we established brand recognition over time. Most Spamblockers take care of email campaigns. This past summer we hired out for a list builder to update a regional marketing list by calling and getting contact information and also ask how they prefer to be contacted. At least 90 percent said no email, so we dropped that from our marketing campaign.

Three, you are correct and like I said, to get published, your work needs to stand out. I market my work to about 100 magazines each month using direct mail campaign of printed pieces. My current campaign has been successful because I have reached a 1 percent return, which means I had calls, a stock photo sale, or an assignment. 1 percent is considered to be a success for professional photographers. I have had plenty of promotions that generated zero response and over 20 years, have spent at least $100,000 (I had to quit counting) in marketing costs, which is not much compared to top N.Y. and L.A. photographers. I have been able to determine what works and what doesn’t by having my staff track it. I believe at this time that a printed piece that jumps at an art director is the best way to market. Like you, I have plenty of ideas as well, but without a strong marketing campaign that makes me stand out, nobody will know how good my ideas are.

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1/15/2005 8:52:57 AM

Laura Berman
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/23/2004
  Charlie's advice is some of the best I've heard on the subject. To all those who are looking to get published: Listen to what he has said and not to what you want to hear!!

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1/15/2005 9:11:15 AM

Chris Stotesbery   Thank you for the correction, and I am sorry I sounded flippant in my last post. My apology.


Chris Stotesbery

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1/18/2005 7:08:14 PM

No worries! I am happy to help if I can. I have been through the Pro Photographer ringer, probably several times. But I am happy to answer more questions if you have them. If you are interested, I can email you samples of my latest promotion that I mentioned to so you get an idea of what others are doing out here. If you are interested, email me at and I'll send them. Thats easier than uploading to my BP gallery.
Take Care

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1/18/2005 7:45:51 PM

John Gasawski   Chris: Here is a little different slant on your question. If you have writing skills, consider submitting a complete package to the mags. I have had success with this approach. Of course I targeted small somewhat localized publications to get my name out and start a collection of tear sheets. You won't get rich working with these folks. Do your research. Go to the magazine racks, the magazine web sites and study what they publish. Request writer and photographer guidelines. These are often on the web. You might want to look at or purchase Ron Engh's book "Sell and Resell Your Photography". The Photographers Market Guide is also a reference source even though it is quickly dated. Hope this helps.
John Gasawski

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1/19/2005 7:15:59 AM

Chris Stotesbery   Thank you again Charlie, and I will send you an email to see your example of your latest promotion material.

Thank you John. I will take a look at the two books you mentioned. I am sure there is information I can learn from in the books dated or not.

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1/19/2005 5:27:48 PM

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