What is pitching ?
At some point when you want to see your photography work being published, you will have to be pitching to magazines or other platforms. Pitching can be technically simple, starting from researching the platforms similar to your work. Pitching is where you send your visual idea or photographic project to a platform in order for them to publish it.
No matter who you are as a creative and who you’re pitching to, there are basic things anyone can find helpful. You have to remember; you’re not the only one pitching to that platform, so why not standing out while doing it? But writing an email that really stands out from the editors inbox might be difficult.
You need to clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and why should you be chosen for this project in a well-written message. Pitching can be done with both ideas and ready-made photo projects. Sometimes the ideas will be easier to create if you know exactly that there is a specific audience welcoming it.
Brands and other visual platforms are the ones who book photographers for photoshoots; in magazines they are photo editors and other platforms might have art directors, who are in charge of the visual side of the final photographic product. So knowing the clients who you’re pitching for is the first thing to research for a good impression.
Technically, pitching your work is as simple as researching which publications would be a good fit, finding the right editor to contact, and sending them an email.
Pitching for magazines is also somewhat of a tideous task; it will not be ready in one go, and you might need to come back to it to perfect it.
Include this in your pitch
So how to actually establish relationships with editors in the first place? Individual publications might come with unique submission guidelines, but regardless of the area of expertise, the following guidelines apply.
You should add these things in your pitch:
- Who are you and what do you do ? Explain what is your field and what is your background
- If you’ve worked with similar projects in the past, let it be known
- Add the previous brands / platforms you’ve worked with IF they’re relevant
- What is the project about that you’re applying with?
- Tell the background of the project; reasons for you to start with it / reasons you want to start creating it
- If it is a ready-made series of images, is there an exhibition coming out? You should mention that
- If there is any publications you’ve launched regarding the series, mention it
- Why is this platform / brand especially important in publishing your work? Find similar themes or reasons for them to work with you especially
In pitching assignment ideas you are a bit in control of the type of work you’re being assigned with. You can always pitch something different, and steer the photo editors to agree to publish it.
Photo editors and publications want to be the first ones to cover a specific theme. So if you see something specific being brought to surface in the society, making a pitch about it will definitely be noticed. Something that hasn’t been covered yet makes your pitch so much more attractive.
An essential thing really is, and I like to emphasise this – an idea or a story shouldn’t just be something the photographer themselves might find popular. It should be something they are personally interested in and can clearly explain the reasons behind the idea and it’s importance in the world at this specific time. So genuine and authentic way of approaching the subject will get you a long way.
Apply with unfinished series
The outlets are most likely going to commission a finished series, but if the subject is relevant, pitching something that will be of their liking – even if it’s not finished but well explained and presented – should be definitely sent in. These platforms are not eager to fund a photographers idea or story, so making sure that will not be the main focus on the project is highly essential to add. Kinda like – ‘I’m going to make it whether you’re with me or not’.
This doesn’t mean you have to wait until you’ve done everything, as sometimes it can pay off to get in touch in advance.
If the project isn’t completed, it’s still okay to reach out to an editor for feedback or to see if they have an interest in the story and would like to see it again once it’s finished.
Be thoughtful about your pitch, do your research, be clear and concise and present good arguments on why is this project especially important to be in this publication. You’re not going to pitch a fashion editorial to a political publication.
You should also follow up the initial email, but only once, just to make sure they have not forgotten about you. After that, just move on to another publication and maybe come back around again when you have another idea to pitch.
It is really easy to get discouraged when you get a No, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea or a good pitch. It just means that it’s not right for that publication at that time. Keep pitching until you find the right match.
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