People always ask me how I get jobs taking photographs for magazines, and this is what I tell them.
Before we even begin this journey, you need to have a good Digital SLR camera with flash, and good images to share with magazines. Be extremely selective with your choices, ask friends and family to pick their favorites. Do not include pictures of your pets, or kids. Look for unusual photos, sometimes mistakes or blurred images end up being the most interesting to magazine editors. Photograph something from above or below. Anyone can stand in front of the Capitol and snap a picture, you have to catch their eyes with something new and fresh.
Set up a free website and upload your top 20 photographs. If you do not want to set up a website, then create several email templates that have 5 images each. Try to group the images by subject matter (nature, commercial, fashion, etc) Enter a general message directed at the art director, photo editor, or publisher. I usually email all 3 in one email so that I cover all my bases. Include your personal website address if you have one. Keep your email short and to the point, editors are busy and do not want to hear about your life, they just want to know if you can take an interesting high quality photograph.
Research which magazines you want to work with. Do a general web search for magazines or publishers in your zip code. You will have more success if you stay local and only contact magazines who publish your type of photography. Go to the magazine websites and make sure that your photos would be appropriate for their magazine. Look for the emails of the publisher, art director, and photo editor. Copy those email addresses into your email with your photos attached.
Make sure that your email is open and friendly. Make it clear that you are willing to do ANY assignments, travel on short notice, and help in any way possible to make this magazine even better than it is now. You see, the point is not to make money now, it’s to get published and have a portfolio that you can use to make money in the future. Most magazines will pay you 50 to 100 dollars for one or two images when you start. Photo editors will not give you cover shots or high profile articles until you have proved yourself to be reliable and consistent in your photography.
Be patient, and do not email publishers asking why they did not respond unless you want to be deleted from their inbox. Anyone can get 5 really good photos out of 1000’s. If you really want to work for someone, send new photos every month with a friendly note. Most websites will tell you what is coming up in the next issue, this is your chance to go out and get some images that are relevant to what they are working on at the moment. I have received photo assignments for the first time after emailing the photo editor for 6 months with new photos, and never spoken to this person once. Success is a low percentage game, maybe 3 to 4 percent of my emails are ever answered, but those 3 to 4 percent have made me thousands of dollars.