Photographs can add a whole new dimension to your writing. Magazine editors often prefer to have photographs to go along with an article, as they will attract readers that may otherwise not read that particular item. Having photographs available not only makes your writing more sell-able, but editors will sometimes pay more for the photographs than the article. And by taking the photographs yourself, instead of the magazine’s staff photographer, you get to keep all the money for your article.
Your photographs should do one, or more, of the following.
- Be attractive or interesting enough to make someone want to read your article.
- Clarify something in your article that you didn’t have the room to fully explain, or that’s difficult to explain, in words.
- Tell a story that is not mentioned in your article, much like a sidebar in an article.
When you have photographs, mention in your query or cover letter that photographs are available upon request. Also say if they are film or digital. Don’t send photographs until the editor asks to see them.
Always check the guidelines of the publication you are submitting to. Publications will want digital images emailed to them, but wait until they ask you to send them. And be sure to follow their guidelines for file size and format and the number of images they want. If you have 20 images, but they want no more than 10, then choose your best 10 images and let them know you have more if they need them.
The problem with many people today is that their pictures have bad composition, thanks to watching television. Television is notorious for putting the subject in the center of the screen, and this is horrible composition. It doesn’t look bad on television because the scenes change so fast, about every three to five seconds, that you don’t notice it. However, in a still photograph it shows up as a glaring mistake.
There is a simple solution to this problem. Do you remember what a tic-tac-toe board looks like, or the pound sign on your phone (for Generation X’ers)? When you look through your camera’s viewfinder, imagine this symbol being superimposed over what you’re looking at. Now, place the main subject of your photograph at one of the four points where a vertical and horizontal line cross. This technique is called the Rule Of Thirds, and it will greatly improve your photograph’s composition. You can read more about this on the Articles page.
If you are going to be shooting a photograph for the cover of a magazine, be sure to check where the title goes. Magazines may have their title across the top or down one side. Leave a blank area in the photograph for this. You don’t want to have some important part of the photograph covered by the title. Also check to see if other text will be placed on the cover to prevent this same problem.
The real secret to learning how to create great photographs is to take a lot of pictures. That means shooting thousands of photographs. Practice makes perfect, and increases your income.