Recently, we launched our Publications Database on Photographer Tonight with dozens of publications and their contact information. If you’re looking to take your concert photography to the next level, joining a publication is a great next step! In this post, we’ll lay out why publications are helpful, and how you can make the most of your experience as a contributor to grow your career, cover more shows, and build deep, long-lasting connections. 

What exactly is a publication?

A publication is any outlet that presents content to the public. In our case, a music publication might be a digital zine, a physical magazine, an online blog, etc. Their reach may range from a few hundred followers to hundreds of thousands of readers. 

What are the advantages of working with publications?

Most importantly, contributing to a publication allows you to shoot more shows! Artist’s publicists are much more likely to approve photo passes when they know the photos will be published afterwards. And, getting your work into a publication means more eyes on your photos, which can be helpful for finding even more work in the future. Finally, working with magazines is a great way to connect with your local music scene, and the global music scene as a whole. A publication’s contributing photographers and writers often form a supportive community, and some of my closest friends in photography have come from organizations I’ve been in!

How do I find a publication to work with?

If you’re looking for any easy way to get started, our database is a good place to begin your search. If you’re a student, chances are your school already has a student organization that you could contribute to. My school in particular has a music magazine, a radio station, and a school newspaper that all cover concerts. Another great way to find publications is through social media and your local network. Start by connecting with photographers in your area or that you’re inspired by and see who they shoot for (often tagged in their posts). 

How do I reach out?

When deciding how to contact a publication, first check their website to see if they have an online application. In our database, we’ve made this easy by including links directly to their application forms or contact emails. Some publications may only have a short window when they are accepting new members, so be on the lookout for that as well. If you don’t see an application form, shoot them an email. It would be helpful to put together a photography resume of sorts that you can pass along. This might include a link to a portfolio, a cover letter or intro, and an overview of your experience. 

Here’s a sample email to help you get started:

"Hello [editor’s name if available],
I'm a [your current city] based music photographer with [number of years] of experience photographing concerts. 
I currently contribute to several publications and blogs including [list anyone you’ve worked with before, you can also list bands you’ve photographed in the past here] and would love to work with [your publication] as well. I'm interested in photographing live shows or editorial style images and am comfortable obtaining press passes directly through PR agents and managers. 
Some samples of my work can be found at the link below. I'm experienced photographing [types of shows] large and small concerts including Warped Tour and shows for acts like [artists you’ve photographed before] Odesza, The Kooks, and J Cole. I've also written concert reviews to accompany my images and am comfortable turning around photos within hours of an event and articles within 24 hours if needed. 
Please let me know if you would be interested in discussing some photography opportunities. Thanks a bunch!
Here’s a link to my portfolio with some examples of my work: [your website].

How can I build a relationship with my publication?

A strong relationship with a publication will lead to larger and more frequent opportunities. To ensure you’re building a strong connection from day one, it’s important to read through and understand all of the publication’s rules and policies and ask questions if anything doesn’t make sense. The next step is to simply follow those rules! This might include things like turning over your work in a timely manner, making sure your images are exported to the correct specifications, sharing the publications posts on your own social media, etc. If you want to be a standout contributor, you can submit before deadlines, pitch new ideas, and form personal connections with those on the team. 

Can I make money through a publication?

While many larger publications do pay their contributors, most don’t. However, shooting for a smaller publication is still a great way to build experience that can lead to bigger opportunities down the road :)

Can I start my own publication?

Absolutely!! While this article won’t delve into the specifics of that, it’s definitely something to explore if you want 100% control over your content and how it is distributed. 

Hope this helped, and good luck!

- Emily