In my travels and teaching one of the most frequently ask questions is “how can I get published in a fashion magazine”. I’ve been published in a variety of print and online magazines across the US and internationally. I’ve shot dozens of fashion editorials that have been picked up by fashion and style magazines.
Below is an image I had published in Sublime Magazine, a sustainable fashion magazine based in London, England.
Getting published in a fashion magazine is not easy. There are hundreds of submissions to each publication, and publications are looking for specific criteria for each issue. Below are a few tips to help get you started toward your first fashion magazine publication, including essential terminology and publication considerations.
If you are submitting to a fashion magazine, you are likely submitting a fashion editorial. An editorial is a series of images united by a similar theme. Usually a fashion editorial consists of 6 to 12 images on this theme. It is recommended that you have at least 6 different looks. A look may be a change in clothing or a change in hair and makeup (for a beauty shoot). Themes may be very loose as long as the story holds together as a whole.
For example, the image below was shot for an editorial I shot themed “As Quiet Crows” aka “The Raven”. This editorial was for a publication called Faint Magazine, and each image in the editorial reflected the feeling of birds, ravens and drama.
When planning your shoot, be sure that the clothing and makeup fit the style of your publication. Obviously if the publication features Valentino, they are not likely to want to publish models in clothing from H&M.
Magazines typical work 2 to 6 months in advance, so though you may be shooting in late summer the actual images may run in the winter. This may drastically effect the type of clothing and theme you select. The editorial image below (shot for Fantastics Magazine) was for their winter (January) issue, and therefore the clothing and mood needed to reflect the season.
Finding and Submitting to Magazines
When you first start submitting to fashion magazines, I don’t recommend aiming for huge publications. Start smaller so you can get the hang of it. Seek out local or regional fashion publications, or good quality online magazines.
Many cities have their own fashion publications, and you can find dozens of online magazines. Try looking through the site ISSUU.com. This site is a platform for publishing online magazines, and you can search for fashion publications that might fit you. On my blog I also have a large list of fashion magazines. You might also check out sites like FTAPE.com for a list of the best fashion magazines around.
When you submit your shoot, be sure to email images at low resolution (800px on the long side at 72dpi) and include the credits of your shoot. The credits are a list of the people involved in the shoot including hair, makeup, wardrobe (specific clothing used) and model.
You want to send an email either to the art director, director of photography or any email intended for submissions to the publication.
Tips for Success
When you find a magazine you want to shoot for, be sure to call their office and get the email of the person in charge of reviewing submissions. If you just send your images to an ‘email@example.com”, chances are that people will not forward your images to the correct contact.
When you call, also try to find out any upcoming themes of the publication or deadlines. For many magazines each issue has a theme. If you can shoot an editorial specifically to fit a theme, you greatly increase your chances of getting published. Also, it is important to know deadlines. Many magazines have deadlines (for example) for their spring publication, so if you submit a spring-themed editorial after this point it is no longer relevant.
The layout below is from Faint Magazine’s “Second Skin” issue. Themes can be very loosely interpreted by the photographer, as seen in my editorial here.
If you want a magazine to hire you to shoot a fashion editorial, you would need to request a ‘pull letter’ or ‘commission letter’. These letter are then provided to your stylist to help him/her to attain better clothing for the shoot. The letter can also be used to help you get good models for your shoot. To get a pull letter you would send an email to the art director of the magazine and explain the concept you want to execute. You may want to include inspiration images, details on the people you will be working with, etc. If the magazine likes your work and is interested in your concept, they may issue a letter.
Please note that MOST magazines pay little or nothing for fashion editorials. Even if you are ‘hired’ to shoot a fashion editorial for magazines they typically pay absolutely nothing. Publications see editorials as a chance for photographers to showcase their work and their concepts. It’s like a giant ad for your vision, and therefore most do not offer compensation. This is just something to be aware of, unless you are shooting for a very large publication.