Why the Zine Can Be the Most Effective Way to Market Yourself

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 50-150mm f2.8 OIS review product images (10 of 10)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 4.0

Instagram, VSCO, a website, Twitter, Facebook–they’re all great ways of marketing yourself and your photography. But they all have something very much in common: they’re all online. Online, there is no transparency, you can’t fully experience something and everything you see is behind a screen. Your monitor may be adjusted differently from the way someone else’s is and they’ll get a different viewing experience than others.

Everyone (every big wig in photography marketing that is) says that you should be on these platforms. We don’t disagree with them at all. In fact, we completely agree. But we also think that you should try something different: a zine.

Many of the more new age photographers know about them and probably do them, but some don’t as they’re really only seen in the deepest realms of the photo community.

So what’s a zine? Basically, it’s a combination of a pamphlet, printed portfolio and magazine. Most photographers pretty much strictly showcase their images and have almost nothing more to them–and that’s perfectly cool. Zines are often beautiful and there is a lot of work that goes into them from narrowing down the portfolio, finding a printer, getting test prints, and then putting them out there. Some folks sell zines to recoup the money while others use them simply for marketing purposes.

If you’re using them for marketing purposes, consider the fact that you’re actually putting more money into this. With that statement, you need to make sure that the zine gets into the right hands. These days with most pitches being online, we’re going to tell you to never underestimate snail mail.

Busy editors, gallery owners, curators and producers get hundreds of emails and pitches a day. But if you put something into the physical mail, you stand a much bigger chance. For one, you’ll mostly likely work harder on the presentation. When a gatekeeper has a spare moment, they’ll look at the zine.

Zines, though, should really be just about the images. Like good blog posts by good photographers, they should combine the printed word with good and compelling photography. So what can you do? Artist statements come to mind–so do captions to explain what’s happening or even big essays to actually try to get your point across and explain the project in depth. Thinking about the who, what, when, where, how and why is critical and words can most of the time keep a person’s attention more than just images.

Since the words are being printed, ensure that the text is big enough to read since many of these gatekeepers are also staring at screens all day long.

Because the zine is right in front of the person and you took the time to care about aesthetics, the person is much more likely to contact you although it’s still not a guarantee. In general when you send a zine out, don’t ask for it back. That just looks tacky but in some exceptions is okay. Make sure that the money you spend is going to the right place and is well worth the investment.