(c) 2010 by Mona Leeson Vanek
Is a picture worth a thousand words? If it's bought with your manuscript it could be -- and often pictures are worth more! Picture-shooting writers who know and meet art editors' needs rack up sales -- and pocket more money.
Art editor's preferences aren't unfathomable. I quizzed editors at The Growing Edge, Marlin, Harper's Magazine, Highways, BackHome, Kalmbach Publishing Company and POLICE.
- Image quality is undeniably their number one priority. They want outstandingly good pictures.
- What makes a good photograph?
- Focused photos -- 35 mm focus must be laser-sharp to retain its quality when enlarged 1200 percent. The dominant image must fill most of the frame to minimize the blowup necessity.
- Good composition. Compose your shot to keep the main subject the focus and to avoid extraneous objects in the frame.
- Don't over or under expose. Lighting is crucial to the overall effect. Bracket where possible.
- Try for both horizontals and verticals. Magazine cover photos are shot vertically with plenty of space at the top for the magazine's logo.
- How many images do they want or do they prefer a list (called a catalog by editors).
- Editors want a comprehensive selection, preferring as broad a selection to choose from as they can get. Twenty or more are relatively acceptable, but don't hesitate to ask the editor if less will be okay.
- Most editors today want digital submissions, but how do they want them sent? What size? What resolution? Do they want them sent on CDs? Some editors still prefer color transparencies, or negatives, or color or black-and-white prints, or contact sheets.
All editors want captions, credits and releases (when applicable) for every image submitted.
What editors expect with photo images
Specifics for submission include making sure that every image, no matter how it's sent, has -- at the very least -- your name. Contact information is also a must. Otherwise, return can't be guaranteed. Digital images, photos and slides supplied by someone other than the manuscript author should be clearly identified for photo credit.
Words of description (area, species, etc) written on the border around the slide can be of great help. Even when brief captions are written on each image, all transparencies should be numbered and accompanied by typewritten pages of extended captions identifying each subject keyed to the numbered slides.
How to ship images safely
- Protect CDs you send by placing them in a Jewel case.
- Never write directly on a photograph or negative. Put each photograph into a archival sleeve, and label the sleeve.
- Insert negatives into pocketed sheets (or sleeves) made only of archival-quality material.
- Package slide images the same as negatives.
Send them by insured mail or certify the envelope and get a return receipt. It's more expensive, but that way you have the name of someone who signed for them.
- SAE plus sufficient funds to return your photographs. Normally, all photos and slides will be returned after publication when possible.
- If you don't give the editor sufficient postage for their safe return, your photos are not likely to be returned at the magazine's expense.
- Remember, if your material isn't used, the magazine has no reason to treat you like a helpful contributor.
- Always put more postage on than you think will be requred. Spending a few extra cents is preferable to losing your photographs.
Photos can increase your income anywhere from $1 to $1,000 or more depending on many variables, such as number of photos used, subject, exclusivity, etc.
Today's potential to illustrate manuscripts with pictures is greater than and ever. Shooting writers can increase their success rate and their income by producing what the art editor wants, or by collaborating with photographers who shoot for writers. Digital cameras that produce high resolution images are a shooting writer's boon, for editors who accept digital images.
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