Today I had the pleasure of partaking in a Webinar interview with Michelle Stark, Senior Photo Editor at Men's Health Magazine. She discusses what the magazine looks for in it's photographers and the imagery it uses. Advice is also given on how to present yourself when attempting to contact a magazine editor.
The following "article" is my personal notes/outline (interpretation / opinions) of the information covered in the interview.
Michelle Stark: (professional bio)
- Senior Photo Editor, Men's Health
- Assistant. Photo Editor, Deputy photo editor, men's fitness
- Photo researcher, Colors
- Photo assistant. Glamour
- Graduated from Boston University
Photography direction in Men's Health
- Real and relatable, not overly pretentious
- Imagery driven by stories
- Images are not retouched heavily and re-purposed in post.
- Images are often shot on white rather than black.
Getting their photos
- When doing a spread on a "celebrity" type person they will often look toward stock images first. (Getty, AP, Trunk ARchive, folio-ID, Retna Images, i STock, August Images) If that doesn't exist then they will hire for a shoot.
- Contributing PHotographers
- 10-15 shoots per issue
- they will often use 1-4 images from each shoot.
- they will tend to use well known and established photographers (I don't think this is any surprise).
- how do you get noticed as a "small fry"?. She said that its a mix of talent and luck… Her response in my opinion made it sound more like 90% luck to me. I did not feel that just because you kick ass, there is much chance to even get noticed.
- again she mentions stock photos,, focusing on "lifestyle" images, sports, activities,, etc… She says they don't really do those themselves.
Finding New Photographers (think you should keep in mind)
- Be sure to keep in mind the focus of the magazine in subject matter and it's style.
- example men's health is not just about muscled men. There will be image opportunities for food, sports, travel, etc.
- You will usually get hired first for small stories or just a license fee for a single photo (back to stock again).
- Do one thing and do it well.
- Often it helps to have an agent. She claimed either way works,, but you could tell how she spoke that she prefers talking to an agent.
When would Michelle read your email?
- Personalize it and reference past work in the magazine.
- Explain why your a good fit.
- Don't use "Re:" in the subject.
- Embed just a couple directly in the email,, don't make the editor work to view things. Then if they are captured by those two images the editor may go to the portfolio link (I think this is the best advice she gave).
- How often should one write an editor? She suggests once every few months.. but not too much.
Websites that Catch Michell's Eye
- Easy to navigate
- Loads quickly
- No elaborate intros
- No music
- Easy to move to large images.
- Using tear sheets shows how your work has been used in the past and how it can be successfully shown.
I was really disheartened to find out how much of the images within these covers is picked up via stock sites. When they are using commissioned photographers it seems clear that they are not going to work with unknowns..
I had hoped this interview would have a lot more information about HOW to get your work in front of editors. Instead it was more just a review of what Men's Health likes to use. Michelle did not offer any information on her own, only responded to questions posed directly.
*This webinar was sponsored by Photo Shelter online photography store (Visit Website…)
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