An editor of a local bi-weekly newspaper called me the other day looking for a picture. He wanted to use an image of mine shot at a local professional theatre company. The company had already sent him the version of the picture they have posted on their website, but it wasn’t large enough for use in the newspaper.
“Not a problem,” I said, and sent along the image with a higher resolution, which would meet the editor’s specifications.
Now, that sounds simple enough. But as you know if you’ve ever sent images to publications, what they want can vary widely — and knowing what to send isn’t always easy.
Here, then, are some guidelines to help you interact with editors intelligently when it comes to your photos and provide them what they need the first time…
Sending Photos to an Editor: Six Questions to Ask
To begin, get your hands on the publication’s photo guidelines. Read through them once. And then read through them a second time with this list of questions in front of you.
If the guidelines don’t answer these questions, you’ll want to ask them of the editor:
* 1) What medium do they prefer — film, print, or electronic?
* 2) What size should a photo be — dimensions and dots per inch?
* 3) How do they want to receive the images? Should you send prints or a CD by mail or express service? Or can you email your photos?
* 4) How many images do the editors want to see?
* 5) How should the images be captioned? (Should you provide a separate caption page, or put them on the back of prints, or imbed them in the electronic images?)
* 6) What is their timeline? Do you need to submit your photos with your story or can they follow after?
Before you speak with an editor about your photos — by phone or by email — do spend a few minutes going though them so you’re familiar with what you have to offer. It may be that the editor has some specific ideas about what she wants. You want to be able to say, “Yes, I have some shots like that.” Or “I’m not sure I have exactly that, but I have xyz that might work well for you.”
Sending Photos to an Editor: What Editors Typically Want — Electronic or Print
Today, most publications (print and online) prefer electronic images to film or prints.
But print publications and online publications have different requirements when it comes to the size and resolution of the images they need.
For print publications — Your electronic images for a print magazine or newspaper should be 300 dpi (dots per inch) and a minimum of 8 x 10 inches.
Now, if an editor requests prints or slides (transparencies) rather than electronic files, you’ll typically want to send prints that are 8 x 10 inches or, of course, the actual slides.
For online publications — Here, naturally, you’ll be sending electronic photo files. And they can be much smaller than they would be for print use. Make your images around 100 dpi. If the guidelines don’t specify what size to make the photos, make them 8 x 10 inches.
Sending Photos to an Editor: How to Know What Electronic Format to Use
Now, assuming you’re working with electronic images, you’ll be faced with the question of what format to save them in.
The JPEG format is the most common and provides the end user with a file that can be used with virtually any software.
However, an editor may request another format such as GIF, TIFF, or EPS. Photo-editing software such as Photoshop(tm) can convert your images to these file types.
Sending Photos to an Editor: How to Deliver Your Images to an Editor
You can email files that are smaller than two MB as long as your email provider allows attachments of that size.
If your photos are each larger than two megabytes (MB), it is best to burn them to a CD or DVD and mail that to the editor. If you do this, I recommend you request a delivery receipt and tracking to ensure that the images arrive safely.
Another option for delivering large photo files is to use a file transfer protocol site, also called an “FTP hosting” service. For a small fee, an FTP site allows you to place very large files on a secure internet site. Once the file has been uploaded to the FTP site, the editor can download it when she is ready. (Do a Google search for “FTP hosting service” to find a service.)
Sending Photos to an Editor: How to Choose the Images You’ll Send
Editors like to use photos to enhance the written material they print. They like to see a variety of images that help tell the story.
I have had editors ask for as many as 50 images to choose from and as few as one. If the guidelines don’t specify, you can ask. But as a rule, six to twelve images is typically adequate.
The images that you send should include horizontal and vertical shots. Provide a broad or wide-angle view as well as detail shots. It’s also a good idea to provide one or two shots that have a little extra space around the main subject to allow for cropping.
Include shots of people if you have them. Photographs of recognizable people that are used for editorial purposes usually do not require model releases. (You can check the publication’s submission guidelines, which will usually clarify this point.)
Sending Photos to an Editor: How to Label and Caption Your Images
Each image you send should have accompanying copyright and caption information. The caption should include a short description of what’s in the image as well as names of people (if applicable) and what they’re doing.
At the end of the caption, include the copyright symbol (c), the year the photo was made, and your name. I like to add the statement “All rights reserved” after my name.
My copyright looks like this: (c) 2007 Riley Caton, All Rights Reserved. If you don’t have the copyright symbol, use the word “Copyright.”
If you are supplying electronic images, you should provide the editor with an email or Word file that clearly describes your copyright information and caption for each image.
You should also enter the copyright and caption information in the IPTC or image information file that is attached to the image. (This is something you can do in your photo-editing software.)
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