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06.08.2011

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.

This image was published in an editorial I shot for the sustainable fashion magazine “Sublime”. Technicals: Canon 5D, Sigma 85mm 1.4, F1.4, 1/30second, ISO 500.

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. 

Editorial Requirements

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.

The image was shot as part of an editorial for Faint Magazine. Technicals: Canon 5D, Sigma 24-70mm at 70mm, f/16, 1/160 second, ISO 100.

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.

This image was shot for the winter issue of a Fantastics Magazine, and therefore the clothing and mood of the shoot needed to reflect a wintery style. Technicals: Canon 5D, Sigma 24-70mm at 70mm, f/16, I/125, ISO 100.

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.

Papercut Magazine is a great online magazine that has monthly themes. This image was shot as an editorial for Papercut that ran in January, with the theme of cool sunglasses. Technicals: Canon 5D Mark 2, Sigma 85mm 1.4, f/ 16, 1/125, ISO 100.

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 ‘info@magazineyoulike.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.

Magazines have themes for each issue, and the images here were shot for Faint Magazine’s “second skin” editorial. Technicals: Both images were shot with the Canon 5D Mark 2 using the Sigma 24-70mm lens, f/16, 1/125 second, ISO 100.

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.

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  1. Thanks for all the great info…love your work and will definately use these tips in order to get started on the editorial publication route.
    In South Africa it might be bit more difficult, but I will def give it my best. Keep up the awesome work!
    Collin (Orange in Blue Photography)

  2. This article is exceptional! The images are stunning. I’m going to bookmark this page so I can read and view them.

  3. To this date, this is some of the best up front and plain advice I have seen. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I would love to read more insights from you regarding the business issues of the fashion photography.

    Outstanding imagery!

  4. Thank you so much for this, i was looking for magazines to submit to and came across your blog, so much information, i have never heard of F-tape, I cant believe i survived this long without it! ;) so thank again.

  5. wow thank you so much you have just inspired me …. I want this so bad and you have given me such a swift kick in the righ direction!! thank YOU

  6. Thank you for this article it was super super helpful!!!
    you mentioned this:”On my blog I also have a large list of fashion magazines.” where exactly can I find them? can you give me the link please:) Thank you!!!!

  7. Fantastic work, very interesting photography, I love editorial content, check out this mag I found, there photographer from all over the world. http://slangmag.com

  8. So if you’re not making $ from your editorials, how /are/ you making money?

  9. I was about to ask the same question. I guess you do it for love?

  10. I just wanna ask…If you don’t get paid for shooting for magazines, how do you make a living as a Fashion photographer?

    /Per Haar