See your work published, displayed or exhibited with this guide to getting your photography seen
Getting your photography in front of the eyes of the public is often a bigger challenge than getting a good shot in the first place.
It can actually be more straightforward than you think however, so long as you’re armed with a little basic knowledge - that’s where we come in. In this piece we’ll hopefully be giving you some inspiration for the type of places you could attempt to get your work published, along with some best practices for doing exactly that.
Don't forget to keep your Picfair store updated with your latest work - should you be selected for publication, it’ll be good to have your current photography ready to show off.
"There’s thousands - if not millions - of places you can submit your work. A lot of it depends entirely on the type of photography you do, and what exactly you're looking for from a submission."
Where can I submit my photography?
There are a few main places which are good for submitting your images to, including the following:
At any given time there are dozens of photography competitions you could be entering your work into. With something to suit every type of subject - and every type of photographer - there’s bound to be something you can find. Among the reasons why you should enter photography competitions is the fact that your work has the potential to be seen by thousands, there are often big prizes to be won, and there’s fantastic networking opportunities.
Newspapers and magazines
Pretty obviously, all newspapers and magazines need imagery to illustrate a plethora of different types of articles. Although it’s a difficult market to crack, it’s not impossible - especially if you have something newsworthy or otherwise unique. As well as news-type of photography, there are thousands of features, and topic-specific publications, that are often crying out for pictures. Spend some time researching your favourite publications to try and get a feel for where they get their imagery from.
Websites and photography portals
Just like newspapers and magazines, online websites also need images to work with. Often the budgets for these publications are a bit less, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t money - and exposure - to be had. Again, do some searching around to try and ascertain where your favourite mainstream websites are getting their pictures from. It’s also worth looking at websites about photography - they’ll often have user galleries or user pictures that are regularly published.
Of course we’re going to recommend that you create a Picfair Store. Not only will this put you among a community of thousands of other like-minded users, but it gives anybody searching for imagery the opportunity to find your work.
Lots of galleries and public spaces run so-called “open exhibitions” throughout the year. This gives people an opportunity to submit pieces of work, without necessarily needing the backing to run a full show. Keep up to date with local social networking groups, and you’ll likely see some call outs from time-to-time. It can also be worth joining groups for photographers, as they will often post similar requests.
Tips for submitting your work for publication
Your job, as the person submitting work for publication, is to make life as easy as possible for the person on the receiving end of it. That means, making sure certain criteria is fulfilled, that they don’t need to chase you, and that you are efficient and organised. From your point of view, there are also some things to be mindful of too - the following tips should help.
DO: Check submission fees for competitions or exhibitions
Competitions and exhibitions will often charge a small or modest fee for entering. This is usually to cover the cost of administering the competition, or for other fees associated with exhibiting. Be sure to check exactly what the fee is, what you get for it, and how it should be paid.
DON’T: Pay huge sums to be published
We’ve heard of unscrupulous publishers charging for images to be published. This is not the norm - in fact, you should be the one getting paid for your work. If you see huge sums of money being requested for publication, this is almost always a big red flag.
"If you see huge sums of money being requested for publication, this is almost always a big red flag."
DO: Check exactly how your images are going to be used
If you’re submitting images for competitions and exhibitions, they’ll often have a clause in the terms and conditions which gives the organiser permission to use your images for publication and marketing of the competition. This is absolutely fine, but you should be mindful of images being used for other purposes without payment. This should be made clear from the start. Similarly, if you’re submitting images to be used for a specific article, check whether you’ll be paid again should it be used elsewhere.
DON’T: Give away your copyright
It’s almost never a good idea to sign over your copyright for any image. Be wary of any publisher that is trying to take it away from you. Clarify with any publisher the rights you expect - such as “single use” or “exclusivity for 6 months” etc. You’ll almost never want to agree to anything like “all rights”, apart from in very limited circumstances - such as if you’ve been specifically commissioned to create work for a publication, or if you’re being paid a very large fee to compensate for the copyright.
DO: Ensure that you receive proper credit and/or links to your work
As a big part of getting your work published is making sure everybody who sees it knows it was you who took the image, you’ll want to make sure that your work is appropriately credited. Ask in advance how you will be credited, and it always pays to ask if you can include links to your portfolio or website as well.
DON’T: Accept “credit” only when you should be paid
That said - exposure doesn’t pay the bills. With competitions, exhibitions and so on, you don’t necessarily expect to be paid. Perhaps you also have something else to promote, such as a project or a book. Everything else should absolutely be compensated appropriately. Make sure you discuss the subject of payment early on to avoid disappointment.
DO: Check any file or size requirements
Making sure your images are supplied in the correct format, at the correct size, and at the correct resolution will make life easier for whoever is sorting out your work. Showing that you're organised and helpful is likely to lead to repeat commissions - so making every attempt to show that is always worthwhile. On a similar note, replying to emails in a timely fashion and meeting deadlines are simple ways to please a commissioner.
"Don’t give up if you don’t hear back at all - there’s plenty of other outlets to try."
DON’T: Use file transfer services that expire
You’ll often need to use some sort of transfer service to send high-resolution images, as file sizes are usually quite large. Try to avoid using services that expire (such as WeTransfer) - it’s another thing that makes life unnecessarily difficult for whoever is on the receiving end. If they don’t download your files in time, they’ll have to chase you to send them again, which wastes everyone’s time. Instead, something like Dropbox or Google Drive - which stays uploaded until you delete it - it saves a lot of hassle all round.
DO: Check who the best contact to submit your work
If you can find the right person to direct your work to, then the chances are you’ll get further with it. For magazines and websites, look for the name of the editor, or section editor. For galleries and the like, search for the name of the curator putting together your exhibition. If you're still not sure of the right person to contact, it’s fine to submit to generic email addresses - but keep your pitch short and sweet, offering to give more detail once you’ve been passed on to the right person.
DON’T: Be afraid to follow up (but be polite)
Organisers and editors are often inundated with emails and requests every single day. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a reply to your email - it doesn’t necessarily mean your work wasn’t right. Following up your initial communication is usually good idea - but it’s important to respect boundaries. Chasing after only a couple of days is likely to be considered an irritation (unless it’s extremely time sensitive), but a couple of weeks is more considerate of the fact that your email may simply have been missed. Don’t give up if you don’t hear back at all - there’s plenty of other outlets to try.
Some places to submit your work
There’s thousands - if not millions - of places you can submit your work. A lot of it depends entirely on the type of photography you do, and what exactly you're looking for from a submission. That said, here’s a few places which regularly publish reader and submitted pictures that could be a good place to get you started.
This popular website has a community which features “editor’s picks” and “photo of the day”. They also regularly run contests which you can enter.
Black and White Photography
This beautifully-presented print magazine has an entire page dedicated to submission guidelines, so you’ve no excuse to get anything wrong. It’s worth submitting to if monochrome is your thing.
Regularly publishes work both online in and print from readers. Examples include “AP Pic of the Week” and “AP Smartphone Pic of the Week”, which can be submitted to via social media (use the hashtag #appicoftheweek or #apsmartphonepicoftheweek for a chance to be selected).
It’s Nice That
A regular source of inspiration for creatives (not just limited to photography), It’s Nice That has a helpful contact page giving you relevant details of exactly who and where to pitch.
Outdoor Photography Magazine
Accepts submission on a number of their regular features, you find more information here.