Best Tips for Magazine Photographers

Magazine Photographers

Practice, practice, practice.

Every day, do a little bit of shooting. Don’t expect to be a photographer overnight. Try to shoot something for your portfolio each week. And if you’re having trouble finding an idea, try browsing through fashion magazines to get ideas for images to show off your portfolio.

Find a mentor.

It can be hard when you start out as a magazine photographer. But you can gain a lot by listening to someone who has been doing it for years. Ask around at your local college or find someone who does a job similar to yours online. They can help you with the technical side of photography (shooting), lighting, post-processing, etc.

Be patient.

Don’t expect to be paid your first couple of weeks out. The magazine industry is very competitive and, unless you have a lot of luck, it may be a while before you start seeing money. When you are starting out, you’ll need to save up for a deposit. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can get a loan.

Knowledge of Photography

The first step is to understand a little bit about how photography works. There are two main types of cameras, digital and film based. Film based cameras have been around for many years and can be rented or bought, whereas digital cameras are relatively new. Digital cameras have the advantage of being able to take images with no limit on how many pictures you can take and print them off instantly on a computer screen, so they are quick to use and easy to take. The other advantage is that you can delete unwanted images. However, there are disadvantages too, such as having to keep your memory card clean of images and having to carry around extra equipment. It is possible to learn how to use a camera by visiting a local store and taking a class, or you can buy a cheap camera to get started with.

A Portfolio of Your Work

Once you are confident with the basics of photography, you need to build up a portfolio of your work. A lot of people think that a portfolio should be as big as possible, but actually, a smaller portfolio is fine, if it shows a range of work and you can demonstrate that you have a unique style.

Understanding the Magazine Industry

There are different types of magazines available. Some are glossy and full colour and you will need to be able to work in these. Some are black and white and have a more artistic look to them. Some are in colour and contain photographs of people. Some are in colour and contain text only. This will depend on the type of magazine and the look you are aiming to create. In addition, some magazines are only published quarterly, some monthly and others bimonthly. As a starting point, you will probably find that a magazine has a certain style to it, and this will dictate your work.


An important factor you will need is a lot of patience. Even if you have lots of talent and are keen to do a great job, it takes time to get work published and it is worth remembering that the majority of magazine editors will only see about 3% of the portfolios submitted.

Magazine Photography – How to get Published

A lot of magazines use photographers on a freelance basis. The process of getting work is slightly different in each magazine, but generally you will need to send a portfolio to the magazine editor. They will ask for specific examples of your work and may ask you to submit a few more. If they are impressed with your work, you will be invited to a shoot, where you will meet the editor and take photos. If you are successful, you will then be asked to shoot the magazine, usually several times, until you have a collection of work you are happy with. Sometimes, the editor will want to take more photos at a shoot and sometimes they will choose some from a selection you make. After the shoot, the editor will either decide to include your work or not. If it is accepted, you will receive payment for your work and will be offered a contract to work for the magazine.