Looking to increase your value to editors — and your income, as well? Consider supplying photographs when marketing your magazine nonfiction.
Writer/editor Abigail Seymour sold her first magazine article on the strength of her photographs. The text of her profile of a Spanish artist netted her $200 — and four black and white photographs brought in $300 each. "Not only can taking pictures be a profitable sideline to freelance writing," Seymour says, "but it can be the deciding factor in whether an editor will hire you to do the story. With very little expense you can add a nice accessory to your writer's toolbox, one that can double or even triple your income—and turn an unsold story into a clip.
"You actually have a great advantage over a photographer hired separately who has scant information on the story," says Seymour. "Use your strengths as a writer — paying attention, finding the essence of the story, connecting with your subject — to make your photographs as strong as your words. The photograph happens in your mind and not in the camera," she says, "so think in advance about what you envision the final image will look like and how it will complement the article."
If you're doing an interview and need a portrait, Seymour recommends conducting the interview first and then shooting the photos. "Nothing makes for a better photo shoot than a connection and trust between the photographer and the subject. I find my best shots, like the best answers to questions, come at the end of the session, when we're officially 'done' and the subject (and the photographer) is more relaxed."
Seymour suggests beginners start out with a basic point-and-shoot camera, and as your skills grow move to a midrange camera with the option of automatic or manual settings for flash, focus, exposure and shutter speed.
For more advice from Abigail Seymour, as well as other ways to sell your writing accompanied by thousands of markets for your work, check out the latest edition of Writer's Market. Photographers may want to check out the 2002 Photographer's Market.