Monday, 16 July 2012

Blue Sky Thinking

Sometimes, ideas and opportunities seem to follow on from each other quite naturally. I took this photo two years ago, when I was walking with my Dad in the Lake District.

The photographer in me likes this image because of the reflective qualities of the water, and the framing of the oak leaves ... and also the blue sky. (We could do with seeing a bit more blue sky in the UK at the moment!)

The lake is Loweswater, and its not one of the most well-known lakes of the Lake District, which sparked an idea for an American magazine about the lesser-known lakes. This photo was used as a double-page spread as the opening image for the article. For the technical minded, this photo has a lot of 'blank space' sometimes known as 'white space', (even though it is blue) because the large section of sky on the right hand side makes this a great place for an editor to plonk (yeah - technical term, that) some text. The American magazine put the article title here.

Whenever I look at that photo, it reminds me of the wonderful day I had exploring the area, and some of things I was thinking about there. This suddenly sparked another idea for a feature for Lakeland Walker magazine, and I included the photo with my submission. The editor liked it - used the image as a double-page spread, and 'plonked' the entire article text within the blue sky.

One of the photography magazines I subscribe to has a column suggesting good places for photographers to go to capture outdoor scenes, and as I was writing my piece for Lakeland Walker magazine, I realised that this photo might fit this particular photographic magazine's section well. Last Friday, I was proved right when the editor got in contact and asked me to give him a short description of the area and other photographic opportunities there, and to supply a hi-res version of the image, because he's planning to use it in a future issue of the magazine.

Hmmm, this photo is doing rather well, I thought, which then reminded me of another slot in a different photographic publication for photos that sell. So, guess who is now going to write a piece aimed at that slot?

At the moment, this one image has helped me to sell three lots of words and generated another potential idea. (I suppose that's what you call 'blue sky thinking'.) And that's what you should try to do with your ideas. Don't just write one article, write three. Get a letter out of it for a magazine's letter page, and have a go at using the idea for a short story too, if you write fiction. And what about a filler for another market?

That's why it is important to get to know the different markets and learn about the sorts of things editors like to use in those different slots. That way, when an idea strikes, it's easier for you to know how you can twist it to make it fit those different markets. So next time you have an idea, do a little blue sky thinking and see where it takes you.

Good luck.


  1. Great post Simon! What a lovely picture. I like the advice. I have just got back from Barmouth and took so many photos that I now have loads of ideas that could be used for many different articles or stories. I certainly plan to re-cycle a few if I can find a new angle each time.

  2. Love the picture and love the advice given.