A How-To Guide For Fashion Photography Submissions


Getting your fashion editorials published can be a confusing process, especially if you’re new to the game. It’s something of a catch 22: The whole mechanism is a mystery to all but those who are already on the inside. And since publishing your editorials in fashion magazines is such an important part of being a fashion photographer, understanding how it all works is essential. Here you will find a breakdown of the steps, and a few things to consider before you start submitting your editorial work. Hopefully this will simplify the process of getting your fashion photography published and answer any questions you may have. But be aware that this guide is meant only for those looking to publish their work in indie magazines like Lone Wolf. Bigger corporate publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar have entirely different procedures, and they almost never take submissions. Here goes!

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Photography Submissions vs. Photography Commissions

As far as publishing your photography is concerned, you can either get commissioned by a magazine (in which case you’ll need to get a physical commission letter, or at the very least a pull letter from the magazine you’d like to shoot for), or else you can submit on spec (which basically means, shoot it and hope for the best). Unfortunately, since page count is limited and printing costs can be quite expensive, indie magazines are inclined to play it safe with their content. As such, many of these mags are unwilling to take a chance on a photographer they’ve never worked with before because they can’t be sure of the outcome. This is especially true if a photographer is relatively young, inexperienced or has a limited portfolio. And so, counting on getting commissioned becomes a long shot. For this reason, you will be much more likely to get published if you use the old shoot and submit method. Though it’s not ideal, consider it a temporary solution. As your work develops and your reputation grows, you’ll eventually get so many publication offers you’ll be turning them down.

If you choose to submit photography on spec you’ll need to nail down two objectives. The first is figuring out what season you should be shooting. Since Lone Wolf is bi-annual, our submission deadlines are October 30th (spring submissions) and April 30TH (Autumn submissions). A spring themed shoot tends to have a dramatically different mood and wardrobe than an editorial intended for autumn publication, so make sure you know what season you are submitting to. Second to consider is where you’re going to get your clothes and how you will style them. You should never submit an editorial where the entire wardrobe is pulled from stores like H&M and Zara. It’s kind of like showing up to a job interview in your pajamas.

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Collaborate With Talented People

In an ideal world, you would get to collaborate with only agency represented artists. But if you can’t do that, at least try to work with only agency represented models. Though a freelance model may be beautiful, this issue is really not about physical attractiveness. Without an agency to give a model credibility, booking her for a shoot will always be a risk that you’re taking. And with all the time and effort that goes into producing fashion photoshoots, why leave anything to chance? As a general rule of thumb, the better your model the better your pictures, and the better your pictures the more likely they are to get published.

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Why Aren’t Magazines Getting Back to Me About My Submission?

Your time is precious, and so if you don’t hear back from a magazine within two weeks after you submitted, you should either follow up, or assume that your editorial was not chosen for publication. Please keep in mind that indie fashion magazines that actually accept photography submissions are often bombarded with them. Pair that with the reality that indie publications are usually under-staffed, and you get a situation where it can be very difficult, if not impossible to reply to every photographer who submits. Don’t take this personally! Instead, try keeping a close eye on the submission calendar. Most magazines will not be able to make a final decision about your editorial until one week after the submission deadline, since they need to wait for all content to be ready in order to be able to see how your photographs fit in with the rest of the magazine. If you submit your fashion story too soon (let’s say two months before the deadline) your editorial is likely not even going to be seen due to the fact that the magazine’s editors will be busy with early stages of article and layout production. The best thing to do is to shoot and submit as close to the deadline as possible. Aim for about three weeks before the deadline. The closer you submit to the deadline, the shorter you will have to wait for an answer, and the more likely that a magazine will have the time to actually see your work.

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There Are Rarely Any Guarantees With Submissions

An important disclaimer to keep in mind is that publication is rarely guaranteed, even if you receive a pull letter from a magazine. This is largely because of how difficult it is to control or predict the quality or style of the final images you produce. Your stylist may cancel, your model may be sick the day of the shoot, your lighting equipment may explode and your location may suffer a deluge of rain. There are so many factors that could force you to deviate from the initial editorial pitch you made to a magazine. And so, if your editorial greatly deviates from the mood of an upcoming issue or the overall aesthetics of the magazine, we will not be able to publish it, even if we personally love it. It’s not about your editorial not being beautiful or creative enough, it’s about whether your editorial makes sense in the pages of the magazine. Some examples would include anything overly sexualized, gothy or violent in theme, or intended for an older audience etc. Large corporate magazines like Vogue can weather bad editorial decisions because they are so established that a few missteps here and there won’t leave a huge dent. Indie publications on the other hand, are young and still earning their stripes. Small mistakes have a much greater impact on the little guys.

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Learn The Technical Requirements of Print Publication

Lastly, be very careful about your photos color profile, size and dpi. Any photographer submitting photography to a print magazine should know the difference between a CMYK and an RGB color profile. CMYK is always used for print, while RGB is for web only. So unless you are submitting to a digital magazine where your pictures will appear only online, use CMYK. Similarly, if you are submitting to print publications, you need to understand DPI i.e. dots per inch. Images on the web will have about 72dpi, while print images need to have at least 300dpi. Unfortunately, many cameras are set at a default 250dpi, so make sure to be aware of this. If your submitted images are RGB and have less than 300dpi, they will look dark, desaturated, blurry and pixelated when printed. So, not good.

We hope that helps! Leave any unanswered questions you may have about magazine publication and the whole submission process in the comments section below, and we’ll do our best to answer every one. And remember, our next round of submissions opens on September 15th, and closes on October 30th. We hope to hear from you then!

Natalia Borecka

Natalia is the editor in chief and publisher of Lone Wolf Magazine. She founded the publication in 2012.

  1. I’ve been browsing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  2. Lovely article! You guys hit the nail on the head with every industry post. Do you ever provide LORs for stylists?

  3. Great article to help those less sure of how to get their foot in the door.

    And a pitch whilst I’m here… Any stylist looking to collab then get in touch, top agency models lined up,

    Email, [email protected]

    Thanks, and work hard ppl… Push boundaries

  4. Fabulous and informative article. Any stylists and hair and makeup artists who would like to collaborate please email me at [email protected]. Look forward to creating something wonderful.

  5. fabolous fashion and fashion is the world Any stylist looking to collab then get in touch, top agency models lined up,

  6. Great article…congrats! I’m a fashion editor and art director of editorial photoshoots, and never read anywhere interesting suggestion like this 😀

  7. Hi! This is a great article, I really appreciate it!

    I do have some questions about what happens when your work does get accepted by the magazine. When submitting the images, who writes the credits and title, and who decides the layouts in indie magazines?

    Also, (in a case when magazine decides the layout), If the photographer shoots and edits with intend for the images to be shown in certain order or layout, what is the best way to communicate that with the publisher?

    1. Hi Su! Great questions! Usually the way it works is that most magazines have a specific and individual format for writing credits. If the shoot was comissioned, they should communicate that format to your wardrobe stylist. In the case that your editorial is a submission, then the magazine will take your stylist’s wardrobe credits and format them themselves. It’s the same for layout. At Lone Wolf Magazine I do all layout myself unless the photographer clearly communicates that they intended the story to flow a certain way. Often, the intended flow is not possible because magazines don’t have a lot of pages to spare. So if your editorial is 16 pages long, and the magazine can only spare 10, your layout is going to be affected by page restrictions. Be very forthright in your emails with magazine editors. They are doing you a huge favor by promoting your work, and you are doing them a huge favor by giving them original content. You have a lot of say in how your work gets presented to the world.

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