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Digital photo submissions: Choosing your messenger

The only thing changing faster than resolution of photographers’ cameras is their options for sending off images to those persnickety editors.
But what method is best?
mailOutdoor Life photo editor Justin Appenzeller says he prefers low-resolution files via e-mail. That’s partly for ease—if it’s not what he’s looking for, he simply hits delete. He also feels like it’s a partial guard against simultaneous publication of a photo elsewhere, as an editor would request a full-resolution file from the photographer that sends out low-resolution shots, hopefully alerting them to their gaffe before it went to print in two places. He says he is also fine with digital lightboxes—basically a password-protected online gallery of handpicked photos for a specific request.
Luke Duran of Montana Outdoors magazine states clearly in his photo guidelines that he will look at digital lightboxes only after reviewing high-resolution TIFF files that come to him on CD or DVD. Duran also warns he won’t so much as open e-mails with low-resolution JPGs attached.
Wyoming Wildlife Editor Chris Madson also prefers full-resolution TIFFs sent by disk or via an FTP link. This way he needn’t go through a second step of requesting the larger version of a particular photo. Chris admits to missing the days when he could grab a sheet of slides and head for the light table.
“The broader my search, the more tedious it is digitally,“ he says. “I really feel like it takes me longer to find what I’m looking for.”
When I spoke to Madson he had just dealt with one of his first digital lightbox submissions—bird photos from Michael Furtman—and was optimistic about its simplicity.
John Hafner is a freelance photographer published in numerous hunting and fishing magazines. He said he often uses Adobe Bridge to create a single PDF file of a set of photos for submission. This way an editor can just scroll through the options and request full-resolution of particular shots using the file names below the photos. Hafner says he also soon plans to begin creating custom lightbox submissions using Smugmug.
Photo editor Randi Mysse of Bugle magazine prefers low-resolution images by e-mail, but says she is open to most kinds of submissions. One pet peeve: giant watermarks across photos. “It really limits their chances of getting in,” she says.
So, clearly there is no single, simple answer. A photographer needs to figure out what each editor prefers. Perhaps in the near future digital lightboxes will become the standard format. Pay services for this include Photoshelter and Smugmug. A good free option is Google’s Picasa, which gives users a gigabyte of space and the option of creating unlisted and password-protected galleries that work well as a lightbox for submissions. ◊

PaulQueneau

Paul Queneau grew up in Colorado hunting, fishing and backpacking. He started with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Bugle Magazine as an intern and is currently the conservation editor.

What do you think? Post a comment below, and let’s get a discussion going on the subject.

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