We asked Heather Lobdell, Regional Editor at Better Homes & Gardens and Traditional Home Magazine,the secrets to getting your interior design project featured in shelter publications. Having published hundreds of stories for some of the top interior design magazines in the industry, she gave us a peek inside the world of an editor.
What is a color story? To me, a color story is simply how you use color in a particular space or related spaces, such as rooms open to one another. Sometimes color stories are complex — imagine a color story based on a rainbow-hued Mizzoni zigzag fabric on a sofa, where individual colors are pulled out from that sofa and used boldly and graphically — a cobalt blue table, a yellow chandelier, red accent pillows and apple green accent chairs. Other times, color stories are barely there — serene white on white on white.
How do editors choose which photography they will use? Who knows really? I’ve worked in this business for more than a quarter century and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been willing to bet the house that a project would be accepted or, conversely, thought a project wouldn’t appeal. I would be homeless many times over. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the beholder with the most power is typically the editor-in-chief. But selection often also has to do with practicalities such as what we’ve already got in the “bank” (our term for already photographed projects) If the bank is bursting with gorgeous white kitchens, guess what? We won’t be able to take even one more, no matter how spectacular. On the other hand, if we’ve got a deficit of color, we’ll hunt down a kitchen with red lacquer cabinetry, a painted floor, and black countertops. It’s a crapshoot for sure. Keep submitting and don’t take anything personally.
Do they look for certain colors or styles of home?Fashion changes for sure, but good, solid, beautiful interior design is timeless.
Do they usually provide their own photographer or will they accept submissions (as is)? Our magazines almost always assign their own photographers, even when professional photography has been submitted.
Will they style your home? They send a stylist to work with the designer and photographer.
Any tips on how to make the images more “marketable”? The more finished the room and the better the scouting photography, the easier it is for editors to assess the project. When we receive unfinished work, it’s very hard to know whether the end product will merit photography even if the designer has written a detailed summary of what’s still to come. We see so many beautiful finished projects that those that are unfinished usually can’t compete.
Can you submit photos on your own? Scouting shots? Absolutely.
Do the photographs become property of the magazine? If the magazine comes to shoot the project, they own the photography and may use it in the magazine, on their website, etc.
Will I be compensated? Editorial magazines do not pay for locations.
Any other information/advice on getting published? Try and try again. It’s competitive. We only have a certain number of editorial pages each issue, so the competition is fierce.