View Full Version : Publishing in photo magazines: Would you do it for fame?

Paul Schilliger
21-Sep-2004, 10:15
Are they any guidelines concerning publishing an article and pictures in photo magazines and the retribution one should expect from such an effort? A local photography magazine offers several thousands for a portfolio and I was just amazed at how cool the editor of an international magazine was when he offred me a link to my website for a seven pages article featured as the main article on the magazine front cover and including an interview and images. I would have expected a slightly more generous proposition. Am I mean? What are your experiences?

Jorge Gasteazoro
21-Sep-2004, 11:17
This is par for the course Paul. The days when photographers got paid handsomely for their efforts in publishing are gone, specially for those niche and art photography magazines.

It seems editors now feel the magazine is more important than the photographers, with a few exceptions of course. Lenswork pays $100 for article or portfolio, you can see that on their submission guidelines, B&W Photography (UK) pays upwards of 100 pounds, depending on the use in the magazine.

Let me put it this way, at least you got a response. I contacted an Australian magazine (B&W Ethusiast) and they did not even had the courstesy of sending me a reply. Of course when I wrote to them asking about a subscription, I got an answer the same day.

If you want to do it for fame contact the good magazines that at least give you a token return in appreciation. I like Lenswork and the UK B&W magazine. Other than that I think the effort is better spent trying to get your work shown in museums. That is IMO more important from the art point of view.

David A. Goldfarb
21-Sep-2004, 11:57
A cover article in a significant publication is a way into galleries and possibly museums, and a sign of credibility to collectors. If it's a good publication, I'd say go ahead and do it, if the publication is good.

tim atherton
21-Sep-2004, 12:14
There is (or at least should be) a difference between articles about you and your work and articles which the magazine commissions from you/you write/illustrate for them. (though obviously you can also have an article you write which is basically autobiographical...).

This is especially so with "art"/creative type magazines or industry magazines.

So, say Photo District News or such wants to do an article about you, illustrated with your work. The feeling is that this is basically a form of free advertising/promotion for you and that you will be happy to supply the images/submit to an interview etc for free.

But say they are doing an article on - Richard Avedon - and ask you to write and illustrate it - then they should be paying you for the text you write and the photographs you take of Avedon at work in his studio or whatever.

If they don't do that, then they are just being cheap (which isn't that unusual...).

So - are you offering them an article with text and photographs about yourself - basically a portfolio piece? Chances are they won't expect to pay - especially if they are an "art" type publication.

By contrast if you are offering them say a photo essay on the Amish or something - if it's and actual "editorial" type piece as it where, rather than a "self-promotional" portfolio piece they should really be paying (but some won't).

Or is this an article you have done about another artists/photographer? If so, again - they are being cheap (and there are a number of the big more "creative" type mags that expect their contributors to work for free and just accept the kudos as payment).

So - if you are looking to promote your own work, don't expect much payment. If you are hawking a piece on a third party topic as it where - acid rain, child labour, Hollywood celebs, Richard Avedon etc - then shop around for someone who pay....

Paul Schilliger
21-Sep-2004, 12:33
I was not seeking to be published and never did, but was contacted when the editor saw some of my work. Publishing a general subject such as a profile in a magazine could well lead to being considered as "already seen" by other magazines, wouldn't it? ...Although in this case it's more of a professional review that addresses digital photographers! (go figure...) and the article is more topic orientated. As you say, Jorge, it could be better then to give priority to a magazine where ones work really finds it's place especially when there is no reason to push things forwards. David you are right too and I wish I was proposed this a bit later when I would be ready to make the most of a push. Tim, this is an article they would make on autumn and winter photography. They would ask me how I do it, my approach, and publish my images. In which category would this fall? I just got more details and it would only be published in the UK edition, not even in the french one. In any case, I know now that I have to revise my expectations! Thanks!

Ellis Vener
21-Sep-2004, 13:34
In which category would this fall?

It is a bit of a mix: a "how to" article that also promotes you as someone who knows what they are doing and can write intelligently about it. It is good for your bio and helps establish your credentials. You never know who will see the article and perhaps contact with you with an offer to buy an image or commision new work.

adrian tyler
21-Sep-2004, 14:08
i get the idea that most "specialised" (non-commercial) magazines are really a labour of love, there is very little money involved and the editors etc. really have to cajole and badjer work as best they can. i did a photo article for an important graphic design journal and the text was written by a top division curator, we got a few free magazines as "payment" but the reward was the fact that we were published by them. as a graphic designer i understand the problems in producing something really special that you believe in, even with an excelent idea it is very difficult if you don't have money. as a "consumer" or "collaborator" you have to decide if it will work for you or against you.

Paul Schilliger
21-Sep-2004, 15:44
you have to decide if it will work for you or against you.

That's probably the word of wisdom Adrian! If a few free samples are going to be my only reward, I should first get a copy and see if the magazine is suitable to be handed to my parents, kids and friends. You never know what they mean by "aimed at professional photographers" these days...

Frank Petronio
21-Sep-2004, 15:53
Paul, your work is superior and you should be rewarded properly for it. Either get a viable reference for gallery sales or get paid a decent editorial rate for one time usage. Decent editorial rates are still low, but $400 a page is not at all unreasonable for a trade magazine. If it is a questionable magazine with mediocre reproduction, low circulation, and poor editorial content and design, then you are only hurting yourself by being in it.

I would go out of my way to "bother" with a magazine like Lenswork because I like the magazine personally, but I wouldn't expect a cent to come of it. My experience with most "professional" photo publications, like PDN, is that you want to avoid being in them - all you get is sales calls and inquiries from other photographers - not clients. Plus, like a lot of the news media these days - they often get the story wrong and end up embarassing you, not helping you.

Armin Seeholzer
21-Sep-2004, 17:42
Hi Paul

If its no a bad mag then I would do it. You should of course put your e-mail adress and homepage adress in and thad all pictures are copyrighted by Paul Schilliger! It really can help for future sales and work! Good luck!

george jiri loun
22-Sep-2004, 05:53
Paul, it all depends on what you want more - the money or the "fame"? Moneywise it's bottom, Fame-wise - only you know. I think the editor in question takes it this way too.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
22-Sep-2004, 08:49
If anyone out there happens to have a magazine you can publish all of the pictures of mine you would like. All I ask is that you spell my name right.

John Kasaian
22-Sep-2004, 09:37
Interesting thread here. It really cuts to the issue of art as a business, art as a form of self validation, or art for art's sake.

If you look at your photographs as an investment or business venture, advertising (gratis publication) makes sense in that it is a way of putting your craft and your name in front of a larger audience than would be possible by most other means. You are basically showing your stuff to potential buyers---a good thing as Martha would say.

If you look at your photographs as a way of validating what it is you do, in other words you look at your photos as being an element of yourself and you natural seek the gratification and support of others to reaffirm your endeavors, then publication is certainly a way to stroke your ego and build confidence in your own talent.

If on the other hand you simply have a couple of prints you really enjoy and want to share just because you thimk others might enjoy them as well, then publication is certainly a way of acomplishing that as well.

As I see it, the rewards for publication in any of the above scenarios are immeasurably valuable.Unfortunately none will tend to generate instant monetary gratification which we can all use to buy more film, paper, chemicals, etc... so as to keep on taking pictures.

Thanks for the thought provoking post!

John Kasaian
22-Sep-2004, 09:55
...Then again, if you're already famous and patrons will presumably buy the mag for your featured portfolio, a link and copies is kind of cheesey payment! Your photos are in effect, being used to sell advertising space for the magazine. Whether or not this is fair depends, I suppose on the nature of the magazine. Whats OK for, say Lenswork or View Camera is IMHO not acceptable for Esquire(well, not unless you get to work with that brazilian gal, but thats another post!)

22-Sep-2004, 10:23
Why no comments from the Magazine Publisher who commonly uses this forum to shill his commercial ventures?

Jim Galli
22-Sep-2004, 13:29
At this point in "my journey" I would do it. Name recognition has an intangible value. The folks who can take advantage of that leverage will. It may not be the right move for you though.

QT Luong
22-Sep-2004, 13:46
One one hand, I always think it is a bit unfair that the magazine would use your work, and not compensate you for that. After all, you are providing the content, and the magazine is cashing on advertising (and also marginally, subscriptions and retail sales). Not offering compensation is also in my book a form of disrespect, as it sends implicily the message that the work is not worth paying for.
Just assume that all the magazines would begin to operate this way, by offering solely credits in
exchange for photos. They might still find enough good images, since the vast majority of photographers are hobbysts, many of them very talented, and would be so thrilled to get published that it would be enough for them. However, it would soon devaluate the value of editorial photography (including your own in the future) to nothing. It is true that being published has promotional value for you, but as far as I can remember, when a magazine pays you for an image, they do not get the right to ommit your credit line without payment of more substantial fees. Also,
as far as I remember, the prestigious clients with high circulation, visibility, or name recognition,
would tend to pay you more, despite the fact that you'd get better exposure being published with
them, not less on the rationale that the increased exposure would make up for it.

On the other hand, it is common for photographers trying to break into a new field to accept
free or low-paying work, considering that there are other business possibilities in doing
the work. This is just smart business sense.

Kerry L. Thalmann
22-Sep-2004, 13:54

Tim summed it up well in his post above. My personal experience echos Tim's comments. In addition to my recent writing for photo publications, early in my career I did a little writing for travel and regional magazines. In all cases, when I've written an editorial piece about a specific place, another person (including other photographers), a how-to article or an equipment review, I have been paid a standard rate agreed upon in advance. This rate varies from publication to publication and is dependent on their circulation numbers, ad revenue, etc. If the rate they offer is too low, I thank them for their time and submit the proposal to another higher paying magazine. In some cases, it may be possible to make it work to both parties advantage even if the pay rate for the article seems too low.

For example, one of the regional travel magazine publishers I wrote for in the past didn't pay very well for the articles they ran in their magazines, but they did pay quite generously (far above average for a small circulation publication) for cover photos. So, when I wrote for them, they paid their standard rate for the article, but also agreed to use one of my photos on the cover of that issue. It worked out well for both parties. The combined pay for the cover photo and article were enough to make it worth my while, I got some nice cover photo tear sheets, and the publisher got a nice cover photo that tied in well with one of their articles. Win:win.

On the few occasions where a publication has been interested in running a portflio of my work, I have not charged them for the use of the photos. In addition to the promotional benefits, I consider it a compliment and a favor. I don't charge my friends and family members when they pay me a compliment. So, I don't charge the magazine for an article specifically intended to showcase my work (but I do request extra copies for my family, friends and files).

Summary: For a how-to article that happens to be illustrated with my images, I charge a standard rate. For a portfolio piece about me, featuring my photos - no charge (and a hearty "Thank You!").


Paul Schilliger
22-Sep-2004, 14:38
Ok, if you want to know how it ended, I nearly agreed with the publisher on his offer. But then I realized that the magazine was fashion and glamour orientated. Doesn't bother me too much in itself, I'm not a subscriber, but how would I then be able to hand copies to my kids, family and friends, knowing they would come across some embarrassing stuff... well some might be embarrassed... I warmly thanked this guy, it would have been an honor to be published alongside some big names and the magazine was very classy.

22-Sep-2004, 15:48

While I was in college getting the useless Creative Writing degree, one of my professors talked about how he blew a big chance when he turned down publishing in Playboy. He did not agree with the content, and had the same thoughts as you about showing his kids and parents. He said that, even twenty years after the fact it was a bad career move.

Just food for thought.

Paul Schilliger
23-Sep-2004, 01:10
Mark, well I guess I had other reasons that I can't really explain. I sometimes take moves that are crazy and sometimes stay in retreat when everyone pushes me forward. Maybe success and career prospects have not much grip on me, not any more. Photography is for me more like a love story and images like my daughters... (I only have boys otherwise!). I guess I could be a bit overprotective at times... But this has in fact nothing to do with the context. It's not because a magazine publishes only landscape images that I would feel more confident than with one where occasionally pair of boobs might jump from a page and seduce me. I have had people use my images, crop them, change colors to turn them abstract, place advertising slogans on them, use them as a background for bringing forward their own product. I'm not angry at them, they did their creative job and they paid me for that. But this leaves me unfulfilled and now, when someone is proposing a partnership but I feel it's to use the impact of my images to draw attention on them, I just pass my way. I know I could be missing opportunities, probably. But I feel I should better stay myself and not try be someone else and end up as a buffoon. Am I wrong? Maybe...

Al Seyle
23-Sep-2004, 16:27
Sounds like a case of "To thine own self be true", Paul.

Paul Schilliger
24-Sep-2004, 00:10
Absolutely, Al. ...Relatively speaking, reminds me of some stories of painters who starved to death or died in a state of utter destitution to produce works that were bought from them for a slice of bread and are now sold for millions by investors and collectors... At least they were true to themselves. Why is life so injust to the artists said Calimero?

Andre Noble
25-Sep-2004, 19:19
"But then I realized that the magazine was fashion and glamour orientated."