Story Ideas for Nielsen's New Women Photographer Magazine

Nielsen and PDN are getting hammered over their new PIX magazine, which is aimed at women photographers. What's the fuss about? More and more women are photographers so it makes sense to have a magazine for them. Or does it? Imagine if there was a new photo mag for men with articles like: “Curbing BO when shooting outdoor sports”, or “Avoiding STDs when having sex with random people all over the world” or, “How to not dress like you’re on safari” or “101 international scarves to accessorize your globe trotting look”. A magazine that gave space to stuff that -- in the grand scheme of things -- doesn't really matter and is based mostly on gender-based stereotypes. Would guys embrace it with open arms? Or would they make fun of it?

Well, instead of raining on Nielsen’s parade even more, let’s make this constructive.

I’d like to offer some story ideas for them. Hopefully they are already working on some of these, as none of them are really revolutionary.

  • How to handle the dangers that women face when shooting in countries that are hostile to women and women’s rights.
  • Maintaining a successful business while raising a family. Women still carry most of the responsibility of child care, and as freelancers, this can seriously impact a female photographer’s ability to work. How can you schedule child care when you aren’t sure which days you will be working? How do successful female entrepreneurs handle this?
  • Thoughtful editorials on why there are not as many women photographers as there are men, and what can be done to change that.
  • In-depth profiles on famous and not so well-known female photographers throughout history.

All that said, wouldn’t all of these stories be great to see in a regular issue of Photo District News? (In fact, the most recent issue of PDN does include a story on work life balance!) Which begs the question, “Why even have a separate magazine for women photographers?” I would love to see the market research and business plan that went into this launch. Obviously they crunched the numbers and saw a business opportunity. But who exactly is the target audience?

Perhaps they are building this magazine for a totally different audience than is attracted to PDN. Maybe they are going strictly after the amateur and prosumer, people who just aren’t that interested in the same issues that pros face. Surely there is a huge market there.

Regardless of the target audience, I do think Nielsen has an opportunity to write about real issues of importance facing female photographers, and I hope they make the most of it.

PDN Interviews JWT Art Buyer about Self-Promos

PDN has an ongoing series called "Promos I Kept" where they interview creatives about what self-promo pieces are effective. The most recent installment has some really great and solid advice from JWT Director of Art Buying Shawn Smith. To read the whole piece you must have a subscriber log in. If you don't already have a subscription to PDN, you need one. On email promos:

Shawn Smith: I get tons of them, at least 50 a day, especially on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays—it’s an insane amount. The problem is that I open and read 90 percent of my e-mails on a Blackberry so if you are sending me images in an e-mail, chances are I won’t see them.

The best e-mails are very focused, event-driven announcements about a show or a new book that’s coming, things of that nature. Keep in mind that creatives are not constantly looking for photographers, we’re doing our other job too.

On personal projects:

I think it’s really important for photographers to be working on series and stories and sequences, rather than just single images.

On print promos:

I really like when people send photo series, show announcements, book announcements, etc. I also love to receive small books, though I do understand that cost can become a big issue when doing these types of piece.

Interesting bit about all of the email promos coming in on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I advise photographers to send emails on Tuesday or Wednesday, because the data consistently shows that those get the better open rates. But if everyone is sending on those days, it will become overwhelming for the client to even begin to look through all those emails.

Best advice: only send out an epromo when you actually have something to say. Don't just send one when you have a new picture to show off. If there is something interesting or newsworthy in your promo, you have a much better chance of the buyer reading it and clicking on a link.