Occasionally I will jump onto various message boards – sometimes to see if I can learn anything, sometimes to offer input on things.

Last week I came across a thread of posts on the original topic (from a photographer) on how to submit their work to magazines to be considered for publication.

(QUICK SHAMELESS PLUG: Very soon I will be putting out an e-book on this very topic! Okay shameless plug is over.)

I posted a lengthy response to the original message offering my suggestions on finding the right publications to target, finding the decisions makers at those publications, developing those relationships and earning the right to showcase your work to them.

Within less than 5 minutes there was a post in response to mine from another photographer. He didn’t disagree with my post – but complained that magazines he has tried to pitch to never respond to him and that magazines should “publish” detailed information on how people should submit to them so that he is not wasting his time.

At first I was a little stunned on his display of self worth. But I responded with more details indicating that it is important to understand how many submissions a photo editor gets on a regular basis – on top of all the other duties they have to do to put the magazine out. They will get e-mails, tweets, snail mail packages and in-person meetings all from photographers who want to be considered to work for them. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to find the right decision makers and earn the right to connect and market to them. That difficulty and challenge is exactly what makes doing it worthwhile!

Then I said: When you have so many competing for such a finite number of opportunities, there is a bottleneck. Then it becomes about what you can do to differentiate yourself and stand out.

Apparently that did not sit well with him as he posted again to complain saying: “I am not trying to impress by showing/sending work for the thrill playing submission wait and see if i get a response game.”

At that point I shrugged my shoulders and moved on with my life.

There is this¬†pervasive mentality that has become entrenched in our industry that many people was an “easy to do/follow road map” or “dummie’s book” on how to achieve everything they ever could want with little to no effort.

A significant portion of my business is shooting editorial (print) projects. I’m a lead photographer for several publications, a regular contributor to others and am always working to campaign new projects.

My work to earn the right to work for these publications has never been exactly the same. There are magazines I spend (literally) years building a relationship with the photo editor or art director for my first project. There are magazines which don’t respond on the first nine pitches I sent them, but respond to the tenth (see the post I did from earlier this week). There are magazines that I have to spend 14 hours driving round trip to have a quick meeting with the editor to talk about the potential of working together. There are magazines where I work on a small project to earn the right for the bigger project. Then there are magazines which despite all my efforts have not and maybe will not hire me.

The only common threads between all these efforts is the endeavor to build relationships for the right to work. After that, it is all about differentiation – and there is no one right way to approach it (would defeat the purpose of being different).

Not every prospective client is going to hire you, some will take a tremendous amount of effort to earn, there will be times you are on fire and times where you wonder when your next project will arrive.

In this business; as a photographer, as a model, as a makeup artist and so on – you have to love the process and enjoy the ride.

James Patrick
twitter @jpphotography
instagram @jpatrickphoto