Education, Events, Students

From the Experts: How to Succeed in the Editorial Photography Market

A mother and child bathe in the sacred Saut d'Eau falls. Ville Bonheur, Haiti. All images © Diana Markosian/Magnum Photos

Ahead of our workshop with Magnum Photos, some of the tutors tell us about their experiences working in the editorial market from a variety of perspectives

Our November workshop will provide an invaluable insight into the dos and don’ts of the editorial photography market and how to get that assignment. Speakers include: Magnum photographer Diana Markosian and leading photography commissioners including; Hamish Crooks (Magnum Photos), Emma Bowkett (FT Magazine and Port Magazine), Alexia Singh (Reuters, Magnum, Save the Children). 

For emerging photographers, the prospect of breaking into the editorial market is a challenging one – building portfolios, approaching editors and winning commissions are all crucial, yet daunting tasks.

At our upcoming workshop, speakers such as Magnum Photos’ Hamish Crooks will help photographers learn more about the detailed process of how to get that breakthrough assignment and succeed in the editorial market. 

Behind the scenes tips, practical advice and portfolio reviews with the speakers and Magnum staff will provide photographers with an honest, constructive and critique of existing work.

“If you want to work on editorial stories, spend time to develop your narrative sense – choose a subject you are passionate and have a very definitive viewpoint on, and then shoot, re-shoot and shoot again until you feel your pictures match your viewpoint,” explains Crooks. “The professionalism that this will teach you will stand you in good stead when doing assignments or stories you have less interest in.”

A family celerates a baptism as part of the moulid festival in Minya. Families from across Egypt make their way to Minya during the week of the festival in hopes of having their babies baptized as they believe it will bring them greater luck. After the baptismal ceremony, families parade the infants around town while bands play music to celebrate.

A baptism outside the monastery in Minya. Every year, both Christians and Muslims gather here to celebrate the Virgin Mary, during a celebration of the Holy Family’s stay in Egypt. Egypt, 2015. © Diana Markosian/Magnum Photos

“Know what you are trying to say, and who are you trying to say it to,” echoes Alexia Singh. “Even if the project or story changes once the photographer is on the ground. Don’t lose sight of the true purpose of storytelling which is to communicate something. Without this your work will be meaningless.”

As freelance picture editor for Reuters, Magnum and Save the Children, Singh is well positioned to speak about the way globally-recognised institutions work with photographers. She offers a pragmatic advice for those starting out in the industry, pointing to a multi-skilled, multi-media approach as the best path to follow:

“If you want to earn a living practising photography, learn how to shoot video, operate GoPro’s, use 360 degree cameras. Learn how to cut films using Premiere Pro, Avid and Final Cut Pro,” she explains. “Even if your true passion lies in photography, you will be far more employable if you have a range of skills. And you will find it easier to earn a living while you work on your photography. If you can write, even better. Think of yourself as a content producer and use everything at your disposal to tell the story.”

Afghanistan. 2011. An Afghan woman bakes bread in the border town of Badakhshan.

An Afghan woman bakes bread in the border town of Badakhshan. Afghanistan, 2011. © Diana Markosian/Magnum Photos

“And know your audience,” she adds. “I’ve worked on lots of different platforms and mediums, from exhibitions to 30 second social media films, and having an understanding of how the work will be shown and who will view it is extremely important in creating successful work.”

“DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE TRUE PURPOSE OF STORYTELLING WHICH IS TO COMMUNICATE SOMETHING. WITHOUT THIS YOUR WORK WILL BE MEANINGLESS”

 

For photographers, knowing when a series of work is complete can be tough to gauge, and with the realities of the industry, come greater pressures than ever to churn out work at lightning speed, making scarce the time and space needed to dig beneath the surface of a story.

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A man stands in the field at sunrise. Burma, 2013. © Diana Markosian/Magnum Photos

But as Magnum’s Diana Markosian tells us, being a photographer ultimately comes down to your commitment to tackle issues you are truly passionate about.

“Build your personal work, that’s what you will be hired for,” she says. “Let it come from your heart. Even if it takes a bit longer to build, this will outlast any assignment.”

To learn more about portfolio building, winning commissions, approaching editors, building and editing your story, information and captions, syndication, pricing, rights, contracts. from leading commissioners and a Magnum photographer, book your place at our workshop with Magnum Photos.  The A-Z  of Editorial Photography, Sat 19 & Sun 20 November 2016.