In case you did not know, my photos and an interview piece with A Small Print Shop was published on the 25th issue of UPPERCASE Magazine. This post is the story of how I landed the gig in the first place!
It was a brand new year! January 2 or 3, 2015. It was a beautiful morning in Denver, Colorado, with sweatshirt weather in the dead middle of winter… well, that’s Denver for you! School was out for the holidays/winter break, and I was itching to go out and take photos of… something… ANYTHING! And suddenly, I had an idea. I needed a model for my project, so I called my buddy Marc to see if he was available for a little adventure that morning. Being the good sport that he is, he was totally down!
I think I should mention here that it was also a time when I first started to get into the whole Instagram thing. As well as print magazines and blogging (not this one, I had a different blog then)! Basically, being back in school had opened up a lot of time for me and I filled them up with things I had neglected when I was working full time. So… what do we have here? Print magazine, blogging, Instagram… I had an idea. At that time, I had been purchasing some print magazines like Kinfolk, Fellow, UPPERCASE, and a few others. I had also seen people post photos of their favorite magazines on Instagram… and that is exactly what I wanted to do. However, just taking photos of a magazine seemed a little boring, so I wanted to incorporate a few other things… like, my new favorite coffee shop in town, Marc as a model for the photos, etc. So, on that beautiful morning, Marc and I, along with my brand new copy of a back issue of UPPERCASE, headed downtown to Black Eye Coffee Shop. This place was the perfect backdrop for my project with exposed brick walls, tables and chairs made out of reclaimed wood and re-purposed wooden doors and vintage tools.
We got to work as soon we got there. We ordered tea, found a spot near the exposed brick wall, took out the copy of the magazine, and got shooting! When I came back home that day, I couldn’t wait a second longer and started editing the photos. I edited them, wrote up an elaborate post for my blog, reviewing the magazine, and finally, posted my favorite photo from that day (the one you are seeing above) on Instagram. As per tradition, I tagged UPPERCASE magazine on the photo. Once I’d done all that, I was quite satisfied with that day’s work, and finally decided to forget all about it and took out my textbooks and what not because well, grad school ain’t fun!
That evening though, something happened. Something I did not expect when I took the photos or wrote the blog post, or posted the photo on Instagram and tagged UPPERCASE. First, UPPERCASE liked my photo on Instagram; or well, Janine, the publisher/editor/designer of the magazine did to be specific. Then she left a comment on the photo saying how much she loved the photo and that she had already checked out my blog post and she was so happy to know that I loved the magazine! She asked if it would be OK to share the photo with her community, and well… OF COURSE it was OKAY, I mean, DUHH!!!!! In the next couple of days, my photo was on UPPERCASE’s website, with an excerpt from the post I’d written, and she even shared some of the photos on her weekly newsletter! To be honest, photography, blogging, and all that have always been a hobby for me, and I never expected any recognition of my work, nor did I think my work was good enough for recognition. So, at this point, I was ecstatic that Janine, the sole woman behind one of my favorite magazines, would even think my photo was good enough to share with her community!
But wait! The story doesn’t end there! At that time, there was an open call on UPPERCASE for its upcoming issue on print-makers and printmaking. I just happened to know some folks in the area who had a small print shop called A Small Print Shop (yeah, that’s what they are called), and had tipped them off on the call for submissions. So, the things that followed are still kind of vague in my mind since I was kind of in a zone… or rather, zoned out… but in short, Janine reached out to me, and asked if I’d be interested in doing a short piece for the upcoming issue, featuring A Small Print Shop. Basically I’d have to take some photos and write an article/interview piece about the shop.
If you hadn’t guessed already, of course I was interested! And folks, that is how I got published in one of my favorite magazines! Good things happen when you least expect them, yeah? That is totally what happened. When I took the photos that day, I did it thinking they would make good Instagram photos, and that I could write a review in the blog, because well, I was out of blog post ideas… I tagged UPPERCASE out of habit… I always tag businesses/establishments/individuals whose photo I’d taken. I never actually received any kind of follow-up on these photos, and did not think I would this time either! But I did! And the rest is, as they say, history.
Now, the title of this post may be a bit misleading. I mean, this is not a sure way to get published. For the most part, I think I got lucky! I don’t always take great photos, but the photos that day came out really well, if I may say so myself. The fact that Janine reached out to me, also only happened that one time. But hey, now I can always say that I am a published photographer… and I did not get published in just any magazine. I got published on UPPERCASE! One of the few print magazines that have passed the test of time and came out the other way, bigger and better with a bang! I have seen so many good magazines publish a couple of really great issues, and then wrap things up because of lack of traction. But not UPPERCASE. 7+ years, 30 issues, and still counting! So yeah, I definitely got lucky there, but at the same time, I am grateful for the opportunity!
It may have been sheer luck, but I sincerely believe there are some legit takeaways in my story. Which are: create good work, share with people (and the right people), use social media strategically (best method to get people’s attention, and FREE to boot), and well, add a little bit of luck in there, and you can definitely hope to get your foot in the door! Eventually.
Just for the record, here’s a snippet of the review I wrote on my blog that day, and I am quoting myself here:
Some time ago I ran into a blog post on Design*Sponge about the future of print magazines; and that’s where I found UPPERCASE. The magazine looked great on it’s well curated website; and considering my latest obsession with print magazines, I figured I’d order a back issue to see what it’s really like.It turned out to be a beautiful magazine; edited, published, and designed by Janine Vangool. I am a huge print design enthusiast. The first few things I check out as soon as I pick up a magazine are — other than photographs — the font used for the body text, the font size, how well the pages have been used, the amount of white space (or empty space), quality of advertisements, color co-ordination, and a few other things. I haven’t been able to find one single flaw with this magazine yet. The body font is a beautiful serif font, the font size doesn’t hurt my eyes as I’m reading (something I have been struggling with quite a bit lately; what’s with the tiny fonts and whoever likes to squint their eyes all the time as they read?), and every single page has been utilized to fill them up with interesting content without making them look cluttered.As for the contents of this magazine, I found them interesting, engaging, and of high quality. Most of the articles were informative, and the interviews were well put together. Nothing felt redundant. And while not everything had me nodding my head in awe, it wasn’t because the content wasn’t good enough, it was simply because I wasn’t particularly invested in the topic itself. The magazine covers a lot of different aspect of a creative lifestyle which I’m sure will appeal to a wide variety of audience.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, consider buying a subscription and/or picking up some of the back issues of UPPERCASE. I don’t think you’ll regret it! And finally, always make sure to tag the right people on your Instagram photos; after all, that’s how I landed my first official magazine gig!
All photos are by Maliha at Usual Habitat.