I have always wanted to shoot editorial work. Getting my work in print has always been my number one goal. In my opinion, it is the mark of having "made it" as a photographer. The problem was that I never knew how to get my work in front of the right people to even be considered for an assignment. I had read articles in industry photo magazines about how to make brilliant and eye-catching marketing materials to nab that client that you are after. But that didn't help me very much if I didn't know which person I should be sending it to, let alone how to get ahold of them.
Photo Credit: Thomas Leuthard
Over the last few years, I have received random, one-off jobs from industry magazines. Magazines such as banking magazines would find me on Google and ask if I could shoot a portrait of a CEO in my area. It was nice because they told me their budget up front. And actually, these smaller industry magazines paid better than the more larger, more popular magazines. But payment isn't the only thing that drives my photography. I wanted the big fish. The glossy, out-of-reach magazines. But I was tired of waiting for them to come to me.
A few months ago, my buddy told me about Workbook. Though the site is full of a variety of resources, the one that grabbed my attention was their directory. Once you become a member, you have access to an enormous directory of industry contacts. In my case, I was interested in magazine and newspaper publishers. I selected the east coast region, since I live closer to the east coast than the west. Once I narrowed down the list of publications that I wanted to contact, I was able to purchase the emails of the contacts at each publication ($.10/each).
Once I had my list of email addresses, I went through and sent an email to each publication, cc'ing the photo directors, photo editors and creative directors. In 2-3 sentences, I introduced myself, told them know that I would love the opportunity to work with them, should they have any regional work in my area, and included a link to my website. I emailed over 900 people. I got responses from about a dozen of them, thanking me for my email and letting me know that they would add me to their list of photographers in my area.
Though I didn't hear back from the vast majority of the magazines, I saw huge spikes in my website analytics on the days that I was sending out emails, so I knew that people were reading them. After a week of sending out emails, I received an email from a major sports magazine. They needed for me to shoot an athletes family that lived on the east side of my city and would I be interested. I was ecstatic. Not only had my emails been reaching the right people, but I now had a photo shoot for a huge client.
Even though I wasn't sending out pretty little marketing pieces to these publications, I was still getting my work in front of them. The right people were seeing my images. And convenience is a powerful thing. If I could save these photo editors and directors some time and make their life easier by being their go-to guy in my region, then it's a win-win for them and for me.