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Tips on supplying photos to magazines and newspapers

Any tips on supplying photographs to go with articles I'm writing?

Most publications can't run a long story without some illustration, so you'll often have to provide pictures to go with your words.

If you take the photos yourself, you can negotiate payment for them. If not, you should source photos from companies or people you're talking to. Most fairly large companies will have PR (public relations) photographs of senior staff, products, the headquarters and so on.

Here are some tips for taking and supplying pictures to magazines:

  • Get the format right. If you're sending digital pictures, make sure they're scanned at a high enough resolution. Pictures that look great on your screen will look like Lego or impressionist paintings when enlarged to appear on the cover of a high-quality magazine. If you're taking photos, find out beforehand whether the magazine needs colour or black and white, and whether it needs prints, negatives, slides or scans.
  • Try to take a picture that tells the story. If you're writing about the president opening a supermarket, get a picture of him opening the supermarket: a picture of him or the shop alone doesn't tell the story. If your story is about a man who swam the channel, try to get a photo of him swimming.
  • Look at the pictures the target publication already uses. Some love gimmicky staged shots typical of local newspapers, but the Financial Times wouldn't touch them. On the other hand, few local papers would publish an FT-style shot looking up the nostrils of a manager with a sheet glass building behind him. Make sure you take the right type of photo to fit the magazine.
  • Always supply captions with pictures. The reader will check the caption with an eye-catching photo before reading the main text and editors go mad making up captions because freelancers haven't supplied them. If you photograph people, get their name and enough information to know why they matter to the story (eg, he's managing director of the company, she's protesting about the school because her daughter goes there). Make a clear note of who is who as well so you can match people up with their photo later (for example, make a note that Jones is wearing yellow and Smith is bearded).
  • If you're in the right place at the right time and take a photo that could be front page of the national newspaper tomorrow, go straight to the newspaper and agree terms and get them to develop it. They've got specialists who will turn it around rapidly and they're motivated to make sure it comes out okay. But only do this if you have something very special.

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