Aspiring models can learn how to walk the runway and pose for photos with the help of Tyra Banks and “America’s Next Top Model,” but what about photographers looking to switch gears and try their hand at shooting high fashion?
London-based fine art and fashion photographer Miss Aniela has some tips for photographers who are interested in getting into the fashion world — and, as a result, onto the pages of fashion magazines and publications.
Know you won’t get rich: Most independent publications can’t pay for content, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be submitting. Miss Aniela cautions that “it’s something you’ll want to be doing on the side,” but that that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. Just know that, while paid work should be a priority, getting the kind of exposure that comes with a fashion story in an online magazine is also a great way to grow your brand, “and, importantly, your experience,” says Miss Aniela.
Begin with small goals: “You might not want to start small,” says Miss Aniela, but beginning submitting to smaller, lesser-known publications really is your best course of action. “It’s best to get the hang of it by approaching smaller magazines.” This is especially true if you’re not used to shooting fashion. Otherwise, your work is likely to get ignored.
Pay attention to the industry: If you’re new to fashion, you’ll want to inundate yourself with information about the trends, names, and seasons. Unlike with fine art, says Miss Aniela, in fashion, “you can’t just submit what you want where you want.” Observe what magazines might be looking for at a particular time of year or for a particular theme.
Know your audience: Does your work match the work that’s already in the publications you’re submitting to? Because it should. Magazines want to maintain a consistent aesthetic, so, advises Miss Aniela, “give yourself time to take in all of these different styles that are out there,” and try to figure out what your own style is, too. “It’s all about finding that right magazine…there will be loads of mismatches, and try not to be too put off by that.”
Let the work speak for itself: Long emails won’t get you anywhere with busy editors. Let your photos do the talking for you. “I’m not saying that language isn’t important,” says Miss Aniela, “but I find it’s usually a waste of time,” when you’re writing a long pitch email. “If they like your pictures, they’ll ask to see more.” Stick with just a few cordial lines, and let your images do the talking.
Read the terms: You need to know your rights — and you need to know who gets your rights when you submit. For many magazines, submission and publication means giving up the rights to your work, which Miss Aniela says is a personal choice for you as an artist.
“It’s up to you whether you’re happy giving up your rights to your images. It depends on what you’re getting in return from that magazine, and what exposure you’re getting as a result.”
Keep trying: “Send lots of emails,” says Miss Aniela, and don’t be afraid to shop your work around. Don’t promise a story to multiple magazine — but unless someone has sent you a pull letter, “you want to submit as many as possible.”
At the end of the day, says Miss Aniela, the main point of pitching your work to magazines is both to grow your own brand and to gain experience. Don’t be discouraged if at first your work isn’t getting picked up; if you keep putting in the work and submitting your stories, the replies will start to come.
For more expert tips from Miss Aniela, check out her CreativeLive course, Imaginative Fashion Photography.