If there’s one thing you need to remember when you’re looking to break into travel magazines, newspapers, and online publications with your photos, it’s this:
You must deliver what the editors need.
One way to do this is to find out what a particular magazine needs ahead of time (for example, a publication might need images of New York scenes under snow for its Christmas issue) and submit a selection of those pictures. But this is no easy task, since most magazines don’t share their editorial calendars — and especially not with newcomers. It’s also practically impossible to have a stock collection of pictures of every potential subject a magazine might need.
A much easier way to break into travel publications is to review your photography collection, find a theme that fits the magazine’s editorial flavor, and submit a proposal for a story based on those pictures.
Here’s how it works:
1. Review your image collection and identify a subject area where your coverage is particularly good. For instance, let’s say you enjoy photographing history-related subjects like Civil War battle reenactments, and you happen to have a nice picture collection of reenactments in your area. That’s your start.
2. Identify the publications whose content and editorial preferences match the subjects you like to photograph. A photo-based story featuring a handful of the most popular reenactments in your area would appeal to your state’s historical society (they often publish a magazine), as well as history, Civil War, tourism, and other travel-related publications.
3. Once you’ve identified potential publications and a general topic, select the best images depicting your selected subject. During the editing process, keep in mind that less is more. Editors do not want to review 100 images of Civil War scenes (or anything else) that start looking the same after a while. Include 20 images (give or take) with your submission and give the editor choices in terms of verticals, horizontals, detail shots, establishing shots, etc.
4. After selecting your images, it’s time to write your article around them. These types of articles can range from simply writing an expanded caption for each image, to a paragraph or two per subject or event.
5. Having selected your pictures and written the accompanying article, it’s time to prepare your submission (note that photo-based stories can be easily re-written to tailor them to different publications, increasing their potential for making a sale…or even multiple sales). In preparing the submission, carefully follow the magazine’s submission guidelines to maximize your story’s chances of getting accepted. Submission guidelines can be obtained by visiting the magazine’s website or by requesting them via e-mail.
As an example, I had success following this approach with my article “The Lighthouses of Puerto Rico,” which was accepted as a multi-page piece by a photography magazine. It was minimal work for me — the article was basically a collection of expanded photo captions, followed by some photo tips and practical “if you go” information. And, with just a minor re-write, I later sold it to a lighthouse enthusiast publication.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]