How To Photograph For A Magazine (Editor of Men's Fashion Post Tells Us)
I went to my friend's house and I decided to surprise him with a little on-camera interview. Eff Ulloa is the editor of Men's Fashion Post Magazine who is the one who selects all photographers, and is a leader in the men's fashion space, with an Instagram account that boasts over 3.4 million followers.
This is an on-going series where I surprise my industry friends and ask them the real questions that will help your career. I surprise them because this way the answers are real and unedited, giving you the most useful information. Make sure to follow on Youtube so you do not miss the other ones!
DO YOU HAVE TO BE A FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHER TO SHOOT FOR MAGAZINES?
My advice: You don't have to be famous but you should have a distinct style that makes you stand out as the authority in that aesthetic. Magazine editors get submission all the time from photographers. They get already-photographed images (to see if the fashion magazine would like to print them) and they get offers of "hire me" all day from agencies, managers, and photographers themselves. This is on top of the editor searching other places for the newest talent. Do you have to be famous? No, you just have to have a distinct style. Fame helps, notoriety helps, but a solid style that you own is everything.
Eff's Advice: You can contact him via Instagram DM, email, or in person at an event. He does not care too much if you're known or a newer photographer, as he has a history of working with a variety of talent.
HOW CAN YOU STAND OUT AS A PHOTOGRAPHER TO A MAGAZINE EDITOR?
Eff also mentions that having a mood board or vision board is a sure way of seen as serious, and a way to stand out from the other photographers. When a magazine like Men's Fashion Post invests in a photographer, they want to make sure the vision is aligned with the brand. I created an entire post on doing the photoshoot for Bouquet Bar (seen on Shark Tank) and share my vision board with you. See that here.
A good vision board will explain to the editor and the client everything that's entailed in the shoot. For example you want to cover the 5 W's and it's a solid case. I'll explain what the 5 W's are below.
WHAT ARE THE 5 W'S?
In any important life event you'll want to know these 5 elements, but lets talk photography here. The 5 W's are who, what, when, where, and why. If you were to build a mood board/vision board for the magazine, these guidelines will set you apart.
- WHO: Give all of the WHO's involved. Who is the team, who is the model and who are you?
- WHAT: Give all of the WHAT's involved. What is the shoot about? What does the magazine need to provide? What is the concept of the shoot? What are you asking for in exchange (money, credit, travel, etc...). What is in it for the magazine? What are they gaining by giving you the chance? Spell it out of them.
- WHEN: When is the shoot? Tell them when you can shoot and all the other when's like when you'll do casting, when the images will come back, when...
- WHERE: Where are you shooting? Where are you getting the models? Where are the clothes coming from? Where are you hoping to get published? Cover or inside pages?
- WHY: Why do you want to photograph for this magazine/blog? Why is it important that you do this particular concept? Why should they pay attention to you? Why should they pick you over the countless other photographers?
Give them those pieces and you'll be ahead of the competition, far ahead of them! Your goal is to answer any and all questions the editor may have by your vision board only. Keep the vision board to a maximum of 5 pages and make it fun. Make sure the vision board fits your style as a photographer and also carries some of your personality. Remember, they don't know you and likely won't see your website link until the vision board sells them!
HOW MUCH DO MAGAZINES PAY?
Photographing for a magazine comes with great prestige because we have less publishings now than from years past. That also means that budgets have come down, because people are advertising more online and not as much in print ads.
The prestige part stands true because as there are less magazines, they'll have more competition for these coveted pages. Whether they pay a little, none or a lot...it's a position people are fighting for. When you do get images published in print, it says that you are trusted and celebrated. It means you know how to manage a set and take a direction in the intended path.
Very few magazines pay now. That's the big shocker for many, as the old days of photography are over. This is yet another reason why we cannot work for free, because it has a trickle effect and affects all parts of the industry. With my old agency, Marie Claire Indonesia paid the photographer $300. The photographer took it because having something in print says a lot about their work. If marketed correctly, they can take those pages to clothing companies and get paid as "the photographer from Marie Claire is shooting our look book".
It's all in your intention and how you intend on using the magazine publication to work for you. It's not uncommon for photographers to pay out of pocket for that perfect photograph. If a magazine only pays a very small fee, the photographer often pays out of pocket for that perfect retouch or lighting gear to rent. That's why the industry says going to print is for the big boys (and girls).
WHAT SHOULD I BE CAREFUL OF?
As Eff said, and I must agree with it: You cannot have bad work. It's better to have less work than a bunch of mediocre. Do the magazines you have work in have the same caliber as the new magazine you hope to get printed in?
Are you asking Vogue Magazine to print you, when all you've worked with are non-agency models and been published in a local fanzine? The clients you accept today will affect the clients that book you in the future, or not book you.
Earlier in my career I had been published in magazines with pictures of Usher, Kanye, and others who are male and urban artists. I would get an editor to a female magazine, with predominantly white readership saying, "but how do I know you can shoot the style that we need?"
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO LAND? START NOW FOR YEARS LATER.
This part might be the hardest for people to digest. Do you want to photograph for a magazine today? Great, you should have started two years ago. It takes a couple of years on average to build your portfolio and your name. You'll need to 2 years of solid work, not a mixture of work.
That means if you mostly photograph cars but want to shoot cosmetic ads. No cosmetic company will hire you. Why should they? Why should they hire a girl or guy with cars in their portfolio when they're trying to sell makeup? It'll take the automotive photographer about 2 years of makeup shoots with models to turn their portfolio around.
The same goes the other way. If most of my work are models and recording artists why would I expect Toyota to hire me? How can I put their editors and creative directors at ease? Here is how:
Produce consistent work that showcases you owning your craft. Can you really, really own your craft if you photograph cars, food, models, makeup, and sometimes real estate?
PUT THE MAGAZINE EDITOR FIRST
What does this mean? How do you put them first? It's a simple method and really starts out with the mood board produced. When the magazine editor looks at a vision board they're really thinking "Will this make me look good? Will I be the hero of the magazine I put my faith in this photographer?"
That's how serious it is! You're asking someone to put their job/magazine on the line by trusting in your talents. If they produce terrible content, it'll reflect on their bottom line. They lose advertising money, don't get the bigger talent anymore, etc...
If you can make a mood board that pretty much guarantees the magazine editor will look great, you'll get the job. Put them first and as a byproduct you'll look good. Think about it...it makes sense.
That means photographing terrible models won't get you the good models. That means photographing mainly food, won't get you high fashion models. That means photographing most landscape won't get you a car campaign. Own your lane and be the best at it, and nothing less than the best.