Since going freelance in 2013, American photographer Alexander has shot for The New York Times, The New Yorker, FT Weekend Magazine, Wired and Vogue Italia, among many others.
Be available and ready to go
My advice is to be very, very available over email. For me, 80% of incoming commissions need to be shot within a week, and often in less time. I've lost commissions because I didn't get back to an editor within two hours. It’s wild but lots and lots of things happen last-minute, so be prepared!
Before starting: Check you have all the information
Great editorial commissions are ones that are firstly logistically thorough: here's the brief, here’s the rates, here’s our publication, can you do it? That usually gives me a pretty good idea of what the commitment will be and, frankly, if the subject or publication is interesting to me.
Next: Decide if it’s worth taking on
The above helps me weigh the capital. Maybe the publication is weak but the rate is high, maybe the subject is killer but the visibility would be low. It's usually a balance between publication, reach, rate, subject or topic, scale and commitment.