better photos

If you have ever tried to take professional magazine photos, then you know there’s more to it than just pointing your camera at your subject and shooting. Once you learn these basic techniques, they’ll improve your results. Here are 5 tips for taking better magazine photos.

Learn To Tell Stories with Photos

Magazines are filled with words and photos, and the best way to take more compelling images is by creating a picture series that tells a unique story. If your photos can stand alone without text to explain them, that’s an indication that you have strong and powerful pictures. Below are steps to creating photo essays.

  1. Select a Topic: Choose a good topic ahead of time depending on your genre. Note that topics can cover different subjects or events.
  2. Research: Conduct basic research about your subject’s background or the history of the place you want to shoot. If you’re shooting a new event, learn the story behind it.
  3. Create a Storyboard: It will help youorganize your thoughts shot by shot or come up with illustrations of what you want to capture.
  4. Get the Right Photos: Take lots of pictures so that you have plenty to choose from.
  5. Tell Your Story: Pick the best shots that tell a compelling story. You should be able to look at the photos and understand what is happening in the scene, and the images should all cohesively work together to tell a narrative.

Use the Right Equipment

If you want to take quality magazine photos that will impress your editors, invest in DSLR cameras. They allow you to use the manual mode and change lenses. They also have features that allow you to shoot magazine-worthy images.

For lenses, pick up a 35mm or 50mm prime lens, along with a telephoto lens such as a 70-200mm. These are useful for pictures that are taken in low light scenarios, or during situations when you need to have a fast shutter speed.

Specialize in a Certain Niche

Some photographers think publications like portfolios with different images. However, editors generally like consistency. So stick to what you’re good at and focus on it. Don’t worry about getting assignments. It’s better to give your best in your specialized niche than average in the genre you know nothing about.

Besides, niche photographers are difficult to come by. So you’ll have a good chance of landing magazine photographer gigs if you pursue less popular genres. You can also show the editor different ways to promote their magazine to increase your chances of getting hired. Just ensure your photos stand out.

Practice Shooting Every Day

If you want to hone your photography skills, spend time behind your camera every day. As your technical skills keep improving, your ability to use them to tell captivating stories will also get better. Just experiment instead of worrying about shooting great images.

You can also ask your friends or loved ones to be your models. Even though you’ll be doing it for fun, you should take it seriously. Take professional pictures even when you’re playing around because you’ll use them for your portfolio. Over time, your style and voice will emerge.

Identify the Source of Light

Before using your camera, check the source of your light. Whether it’s an artificial source like a bulb or natural light from the sun, use it to capture better magazine photos. Also, find out how the light is interacting with your subject and location.

Check if it’s casting interesting shadows or highlighting an area. If the sun is creating ugly shadows on the subject or it’s very bright outside, switch on your flash. When you reflect extra light on the subject, you’ll fill in those shadows and take quality photos.


Taking fantastic magazine photos is simple once you know what to do. Keep honing your skills and strive to be excellent. Have fun while implementing the above tips.

Photo by emrecan arık on Unsplash

by Jen Landry, Cole’s Classroom

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Magazine Training International’s mission is to encourage, strengthen, and provide training and resources to Christian magazine publishers as they seek to build the church and reach their societies for Christ.