How To - Get Published: Picture This!

Every month in Shutterbug we publish photographs from readers based on an assignment published in a previous month's issue. We get hundreds of photographs from readers all around the world and unfortunately we are limited to publishing just a small fraction of the work we receive. We've had topics including "Black and White in Color", "Silhouettes" and "Historical Reenactments." Our purpose in creating this section in the magazine is to create a visual forum for readers and to challenge them to fulfill assignments. It's always a delight to open the packages we receive. I know the thrill I got when my fist photo was published, and my hope is that the same excitement is shared by those whose images we select to publish each month.

While we get a fair share of slides and lab-produced prints, we are seeing an increasing amount of prints made by readers themselves. This is very exciting as there's more "darkroom" work being done now than ever before, albeit a desktop darkroom and not the amber-lit chemical darkroom of the past. We do get some silver prints made by readers, but the norm these days are inkjet prints. In most cases these prints are of good quality, but we must confess that some good images are hurt by poor printing execution. The ease of printing might be a good thing, but that doesn't mean that technique should be ignored. The same guidelines that make for a good silver print--good tonal and color value, and mainly attention to contrast--apply to inkjet as well.

The paper surface also has an effect on print quality and reproduction quality. When we get prints we scan them, just as you would scan prints from your family album. Those that are on glossy surface, rather than a stippled watercolor paper, scan best without surface interference. While "watercolor" and other art surfaces look great on a gallery wall or in a portfolio, glossy surface is best for reproduction.

As to labeling, it's important to place your name, address and any other pertinent information on the back of the print, or affixed to the slide. We request camera, lens, film (if on film) and exposure information for every image, and providing same can make the selection process more successful. In addition, any brief anecdotes are also helpful and enjoyable, as they add to the context of the creation of the image. We also need a brief permission slip or note that grants us permission to use the image in our pages and on the web.

We publish our Picture This! column 12 times a year, and that makes for over a hundred images from readers we publish per annum. We encourage you to get involved and send in your pictures to fulfill the assignments. We hope that this helps focus your energy and inspire you to get out there and make some great images. We know that we truly enjoy getting and publishing the work.

Here are some recent images we received and photographers we have published in recent Picture This! columns.

Frank Becker, from our "Historical Reenactments" assignment. Becker made this image at the Perryville Battlefield in Kentucky with a Nikon D100 set at ISO 800 with an exposure of f/9 at 1/320 sec.

Gary Hintz, from our "Neon City" assignment.

Jason Byers. Byers sent us a great group of images for our "Sunrise/Sunset" assignment. This was one we didn't publish at the time, though another of his shots was published. He photographed with a Canon Elan 7 on Fujichrome Velvia film at f/8 at 1/30 sec.