Submit Manuscript

How to Submit a Photo Story

Author: Rohn Engh


Which publications will use a photo story on your subject? a) Check WRITER’S MARKET and PHOTOGRAPHER’S MARKET (www.f& b.) Look up publications you’re interested in on Google or at the library or at newsstands. Study several issues. Check mastheads for correct spelling of the current photo or feature editor’s name. Make sure that they haven’t published your photo story subject in the recent past, nor do they have it scheduled for the near future. (To find out the latter, request their editorial calendar.)

The Slant

Figure out the angle or slant or “hook” of the article, based on your research of the publication and your personal point of view.

Your Research

Research your own subject thoroughly. Illustrate it with meaningful photos.


Write a one or two-page query letter on professional-looking stationery. a.) Format: Typewritten (word processed), in accepted business letter format. Open with “Dear Mr. or Ms. Last Name,” not “Dear John or Joan.” Spell check, proofreading it as often as necessary, to make it flawless. One typing error or misspelled word can spoil the professional impression you want to create. b) Content: Your first paragraph should provocatively refer to your story idea, with a question, a brief story, a quote, an event, etc…. You must grab the photo editor right away or you’ve lost him/her. Your next paragraph or two can explain your photo story idea in more detail. Following that, in the next paragraph, say something about yourself, your credits, or whatever else you think the photo editor ought to know to underscore your track record and position to deliver what you promise. Include information about your website and a sampling of on-line photos and their resolution. Your closing paragraph should mention that you look forward to hearing from them.

Contact and Delivery

Most editors welcome a postal query, others prefer email. A Google search of their website will generally inform you of their submission guidelines.

Send out your query letter and sit tight. (Or better, continue researching and sending out other story queries.) It takes anywhere from two to six weeks to hear from a photobuyer on a query like this. (No news is good news.)

The Response

When a photo editor answers: If the answer is “no,” be ready with other appropriate markets to send your query off to. If it’s “yes,” begin your negotiations to receive payment. If it’s “yes, on spec” (meaning no guarantee of publication and payment, but if you send the piece they promise to give it attention), you might consider taking them up on it, especially if this is your first submission to this market.

The Future

Once you have several photo stories to your credit, you can open many doors by referring to them with a link to your website.

Article Source:

About the Author

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Avenue, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. Telephone: 1 800 624 0266. Fax: 1 715 248 7394 for more information on how to sell photos.

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