A Photographer’s Six-Step Guide to Shooting Magazine Covers

It is every professional photographer’s “ungettable get:” the magazine cover shot. No matter the subject or the magazine, landing a magazine cover can be difficult without the right attitude, patience and preparation. Be ready to succeed in finding your first cover job by doing six things that will make you more marketable as a magazine photographer:

  1. Gain experience in all types of photography. Take artistic photos, portraits, team photos…if you can take a picture of it, do it. More experience means you can shoot for composition and light in any situation, which is more than half the battle for any photographer.
  2. Work with graphic designers, magazine editors and art directors. You need to learn what will happen to your photos after you submit them, so that you understand more what the creative types on the production end need from you. Find some friends and look over their shoulders, or get internships and volunteer positions just to get the experience. Nobody teaches this stuff in school.
  3. Stage your portfolio for each magazine’s style, with cover-quality shots. Any time you submit a portfolio to an editor for consideration, select your best photos that might appeal to that particular magazine’s readership and established style. Also, like staging a house so a buyer can picture themselves living there, crop some photos to leave room for a magazine masthead and some headlines on the sides. Let the editor imagine how your photo would look as her magazine cover.
  4. Every time you shoot, include several magazine-style photos. This goes back to gaining experience with composition and lighting, but it’s even better once you have in-depth magazine industry knowledge. This is mostly for your benefit, but can also benefit your portfolio, and will only take a minute or two of your time every time you shoot.
  5. Shoot as a newspaper stringer or produce local magazine art for credibility. Don’t bypass the small jobs; they pay actual money, earn you experience and credibility, and feed rampant media nepotism. Remember: it’s not what you know (OK, it is a little), it’s WHO you know. Make friends.
  6. Never miss an opportunity to submit quality work “on spec.” Working on speculation is like doing all the work and hoping someone will pay you for it, but do it whenever you can. If you produce quality photos and make a name for yourself first as a “space-filler,” you’re in. All you need is that first foot in the door, and you’re on your way to a cover.

Once you take the shot seen ’round the world, keep it forever inside a custom wall plaque that’s just made to show off your artistry. That is absolutely a picture that’s worth a thousand words, and its very own place on your wall. See how great it will look. Get a FREE online preview today.