Sunday, May 31, 2015


Some of the articles you write will call for accompanying photographs and some will not. If your article is a personality profile or story about a particular place or event, most publishers will expect you to provide appropriate photos. You can take such photos yourself if you are a professional photographer, or at least have a quality camera and know how to take professional shots. If not, you can hire someone to go along who is, or if the subject is a celebrity, his/her publicity department can often provide photos. Inquire about the availability of photos, or ask permission to take photos, when you set up the interview. If the assignment and the publication are major enough, the publication may send out a photographer to take photos. For example, I once did an article about communication with teenagers (using my family as an example), and to my surprise, the major Christian magazine I wrote it for sent a professional photographer to my home to take photos of the family.

Generally, the author is not expected to provide illustrations for an article, unless it requires photos of a particular person or event as noted above. The periodical provides the regular illustrations. An exception might be things like charts or graphs needed to illustrate the piece. Even in those cases, if you provide a copy of the chart or graph, they would have it professionally designed to appear in the magazine. Such charts and graphs can be computer-generated fairly easily.
If a publication expects photographs, you will need to know exactly what they expect you to provide. Some want color transparencies, while others want black & white photos of a particular size (usually 8x10). You can get this information from the market guide, their guidelines, or simply ask the editor. If possible, send a contact sheet or several photos for them to choose from. All photos need to be sharp and clear, unless they are old photos included for historical purposes.

The question of payment for illustrations is not easy to answer. Some publishers consider the photos as part of the price and do not pay extra for them. Others consider them as a separate entity and pay accordingly. You will want to clarify this ahead of time, especially if you are paying a photographer to take the necessary photos. Keep in mind that you are actually leasing the photos, not selling them outright, so the photos and rights should be returned to you after use. Normally you won’t be paid extra for the other types of graphics. Anytime you have questions about who is to provide photos or illustrations, ask the editor what is expected of you and what they can do to help.

Stock Photos
In addition to photos to accompany articles, some publications buy stock photos—nonspecific photos that can be used to illustrate other material in the magazine. The market guide indicates which ones only buy photos with articles and which buy stock photos. Some book publishers are also open to photos to use as book covers (and magazines buy them for magazine covers). If you are taking photos for covers, take vertical shots, not horizontal. Individuals who try to sell stock photos do well to specialize in specific areas.
If you want to sell to Christian publications, study a lot of sample copies and determine the types of photos they typically use, such as various church scenes, youth and children involved in various activities, couples, etc. Although some are photographers exclusively, many take pictures as a sideline to supplement their writing income. Some will go on planned photo shoots to collect specific types of photos, and others take extra photos when taking shots for a specific article so they can be used as stock photos as well.

Stock photos are also available through stock agencies (businesses that have thousands in their files on a wide variety of topics), so you might check out what prices are charged by such agencies. Sort your pictures by category and give each slide an identifying number, then make up a list or index by category. Stamp your name on each slide or photo, along with a copyright symbol ©. Submit slides in plastic sheets that hold 20 slides and are three-hole punched to store in loose-leaf notebooks. If sending less than 20, cut the sheets leaving the correct number of pockets.

Often writers ask if they need model releases for pictures they send with articles. Generally speaking you will not, unless the publication specifically asks for them. The exception is if the photo is going to be used on the cover. The key here is that the photos in no way reflect negatively on the subject. For example, you wouldn’t do an article on drug addicts and use a photo of innocent bystanders to illustrate it—giving the impression that they were the addicts.

Typically model releases are required if the subject is recognizable and the photo is going to be used for commercial purposes, such as in an advertisement or for public relations. You can make up and print your own model release on a 1/3 or ½ sheet of paper. Include blank lines for the release number, date the picture was taken, name of the subject, and a brief description of scene. In the center of the slip have a statement similar to this: I hereby give photographer, (your name) , permission to reproduce and sell photographs that include me or my children, for editorial, advertising, or other lawful purposes. At the bottom have one or two lines for signatures and a date. A pad of photo release forms can also be found at your local photography store.

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