December 1, 2023

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Expert Arts Folks

How to Illustrate Your Article – Photo Tips For Writers

3 min read
How to Illustrate Your Article – Photo Tips For Writers

Illustrating your article can be a good way to make some extra money from it. It can also make it easier to sell. Now that good digital cameras can be bought fairly cheaply there is no excuse for not enhancing your literary efforts with a few well chosen photographs. You don’t need to be an expert photographer. Here are some tips:

As ever, study your market. If the newspaper or magazine you want to write for doesn’t use photos there is no point in sending any. (In fact it will just show to the editor that you haven’t studied their publication.)

Don’t try to be too different. Take the same sort of photographs that are already used in the publication. Things that will fit into the house style just nicely.

Technical excellence isn’t that important. Just make sure they are well composed, clear and in good focus. Set your digital camera to the highest resolution setting it has. The photos you provide usually need to be capable of being printed at at least 300dpi if they are to be used in print.

Don’t try to be too arty or clever – shots like that are best left to the experts. For example, amateur photos in black and white usually don’t work that well.

Make sure the lighting is good. This is the single most important point after making sure your photos are in focus. Never use a flash for these photos. Remember that good night time photos are tricky to take. Photos taken outdoors in good daylight are usually the easiest pics to take.

Keep the composition simple. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a house to illustrate a property article just take a simple photo of a house from the front and centralise it in the photo. Don’t experiment with unusual angles or do something that is too clever …. such as climbing a tree to try and get a bird’s eye view!

Avoid sending photos that contain a trademark as editors often won’t use these for copyright reasons. If the photo contains a recognisable person get their written permission to use the photo – this is known as a model release.

There’s no need to try and retouch your photos, such as with editing software like Photoshop. Too much editing can reduce the quality of your photos and, in any case, the magazine or newspaper will probably have experts to do any retouching if it is needed.

Send more than one photo, but not too many. Four, five or six is a good number. This gives the editor a good choice but avoids flooding them with photos. If you’re submitting your article by mail send prints but be sure to put your name and article title on the reverse. If you’re e-mailing your article include them as an attachment but be sure to say what it is in your e-mail.

Often, magazines and newspapers will pay extra for photos they use on top of the payment for your article. But even if they do not photos will attract attention to your submission. As they say, a photo really does paint a thousand words!

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