“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” – Writer Charles de Lint
As street photographers, images come naturally, but sometimes the words that make their story complete do not. In all honesty, one of the biggest challenges street photographers face when it comes to getting published is making the leap from a series of compelling images to a full-fledged street photography project, complete with a written commentary.
If you have an interesting project you would like to have published but can’t find the words to explain it, here are a few tips to help you get started. But first things first, what kind of article do you want to write? Consider the following kinds of articles and then choose one that fits well with your style, images and interests. Then you’ll be ready to create your own unique project
Types of Street Photography Articles
Location-based Projects – This can be a city guide like this one titled “Street Photography Spotlight on Cleveland“, in which you describe the best places to shoot in your city, how to get there and what to do or not do in the area. This kind of project can also be broader or narrower in it’s scope, i.e. you might focus on a small area within a city or an entire country.
Subject-based Projects – This kind of article can focus on any subject you choose. It might be something like “A Study in “X” Culture” or “People Napping in Public.” Make sure your images and story center around one specific theme. Here are a couple past articles that are good examples of subject-based projects:
How-to Articles – In a how-to article, you explain a particular aspect of street photography and demonstrate these techniques with your images. This might be something like, “How to Tell a Story with Your Images” or “How to Use Light and Shadows in Street Photography.” Here are a couple examples from past issues:
Abstract/Creative Projects – This kind of project is more about an idea, thought or philosophy that you depict with street photography. Here are two good examples of abstract/creative projects:
Gear Articles – Gear related articles could be a review of any piece of gear or a general article describing what gear has worked best for you when you shoot the streets and why.
Interviews – Each month we interview a featured photographer. We talk about their work in an audio interview and create a gallery of some of their images. If you are interested in being interviewed, feel free to contact us.
Writing About Your Work – Where to Begin
Now that you have an idea of what kind of article you will create, it’s time to really start brainstorming your content. To get the ideas flowing, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why did you choose this particular subject? What was your motivation or inspiration?
- What technical and personal obstacles did you face to get your images? How did you overcome them?
- What have you learned from the experience? What aspects of the project do you think might benefit other street photographers?
Always write as if you were speaking to a friend. Keep your article tone conversational. You may even find it helpful to use dictation software and just talk your article out to get started.
When it comes to creating commentaries for individual photos, you’ll want to be able to write a sentence or two about each image. You can use one or more of these questions as a guide if you would like:
- What problems did you have in making the image and how did you solve them?
- What were the conditions? (i.e. light, weather, environment)
- What, if any, special equipment or techniques did you use to make this image? (For example, camera, lens, lighting gear, post processing)
- What is the backstory behind the subject in the image or how the scene came to pass?
Creating the Final Product
Ready to submit your article? Not so fast! Here’s a checklist of things you’ll need to include with your project:
- Your 1200 word article in a Word document or plain text file. You can indicate which photo goes where by including a line with the image title in between paragraphs.
- Eight photos sized at 2200px wide at 72dpi (in one zip file if possible).
- A photo of yourself which will be published at 300px square.
- A short bio (one to two paragraphs will suffice) that explains who you are.
- A list of your online links including your website, Flickr, 500px, Tumblr, Facebook, etc.
Once you’ve collected your images, written your article and gotten the rest of these items together, you are ready to submit your project. Now what? Simply email it to the founder and editor of SPM:
We’ll get back to you after we’ve reviewed your article. When we get in touch we may offer you a few suggestions to improve your project or we may decide to go ahead and publish it as is. In addition, feel free to email us during your project creation process if you get stuck or need some outside suggestions, we’d be happy to help.
A Few Final Resources
- Tips for Getting Your Work Published in SPM (Podcast)
- How to Start a (Successful) Street Photography Project
- How to Get Your Street Photography Published (Individual Images)
- Improve Your Photography by Writing About It
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