I remember the moment when I submitted my very first wedding for publication. I was incredibly nervous, fearful of what I assumed was an impending rejection, as I feverishly hit “Submit” and watched my first submissions form refresh into cyberspace. It was downright terrifying. Seriously… terrifying.
Fast forward two years and there I was – launching an Annapolis Wedding Blog of my very own… Forging into unknown territory as an Editor with my sweet friend Krista as we set out to make a big dream come true! And after Bayside Bride was born, I quickly realized how much I never truly understood about the ‘Wedding Blog Industry‘ – How complex submissions can be, how difficult the decision making process is for Editors, and most importantly – how much hard work goes into running a online publication.
I always respected editors, but never fully realized how challenging it was to curate a strong body of content from the submissions pool and decide whether a wedding was the right fit for publication. It taught me a lot about what editors are truly looking for and what types of photographs generate the highest amount of traffic for the blog.
Through running Bayside Bride with Krista, we learned that real weddings generally did better than articles or engagement sessions and details were the most frequently pinned + shared portions of the post. The more details a wedding had, the more traffic that post tended to generate and with traffic came a higher quantity of advertising dollars to keep our business growing. I also learned that newly engaged brides LOVED to see local weddings that featured their vendors in action and the more vendors we had featured in a particular post – the more interest it tended to generate! I know that I can be an analytics nerd, but these things fascinated me and more importantly – they changed the way I approached publications as a wedding photographer.
Today, I’m sharing a few big tips that every Wedding Photographer should keep in mind when submitting! I spoke briefly on this topic at United in Santa Barbara earlier this year and heard the fabulous Editors of Baltimore Bride Magazine speak at our Workshop! Below are a few of the overarching ideas that I want to relay to all of you today!
Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Getting Published
Tip #1: Shooting For Publication
Generally, Editors are looking for a body of images that highlight unique details with beautiful portraits and emotional moments mixed in. Remember when shooting the details to capture a range of images that mix wide shots of the entire scene with close-ups of individual vignettes or details. Variety is the key and when possible – try to capture details in both a vertical and horizontal fashion.
Remember to look for good light when capturing key moments and details. Natural light is generally preferred by many modern wedding blogs and publications, however artificial light – when handled expertly can create truly exceptional images for publication. The key is capturing details in the best light possible and if good light is not available, don’t be afraid to: A) Move details into better lighting conditions (A window or an area of open shade on a porch or overhang, for example!) or B) Create the Conditions you Want Using Artificial Light (For example: I use a Video Light held by my assistant to achieve a more dynamic look when photographing reception details!)
Tip #2: Submit to the Proper Fit
Every Wedding Magazine and Blog has a slightly different aesthetic and it’s important to do your research before submitting your work to any publication. Not every wedding is the right fit for every wedding blog, just as not every client is the right fit for every photographer.
Look for the subtle aesthetic differences in your favorite publications and pay attention to the types of weddings that they are featuring. Some wedding blogs and magazines prefer images with a soft, natural processing style – others look for bold and offbeat weddings. Few things annoy editors more than receiving a beautiful wedding that is completely the wrong fit… It tells that Editor that you have not been paying attention to the type of weddings they are looking for and frustrates them for having to turn away quality content!
Always remember to study the publication closely before submitting. And always submit to the right fit!
Tip #3: Obey All Rules + Guidelines
Editors are very particular about the guidelines they set for considering a wedding for publication! Be sure to obey all of the rules especially in terms of image quantity, pixel width, and waiting time after submission before pursuing other publications.
Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive Publications –
Exclusive Publications must be submitted to one at a time. Do not, under any circumstances, submit a wedding to more than one Exclusive Publication at the same time. This is an easy way to get in trouble with editors and be placed on the theoretical “black list”. Submit to one exclusive publication, wait the designated amount of time, and if your wedding is rejected, then go on to submit to your second choice.
With Non-Exclusive Publications, I recommend submitting to no more than three out of respect to the editor! Although many Non-Exclusives don’t mind their weddings being featured elsewhere, they do mind feeling like a ‘dime a dozen’ and will frequently reject weddings that have been submitted to ten or twenty other blogs. Many photographers do not realize that when they submit through a program like Two Bright Lights, Non-Exclusive Blogs can see how many other blogs they’ve submitted that same wedding to! So be courteous and keep that list on the shorter side when possible.
Also, remember that most local print magazines are okay with weddings being featured on photographer’s blogs first – but a few of the national magazines are NOT and require full exclusivity! If there is a print magazine that you love, don’t hesitate to ask what their rules are! Personally, I believe that blogging my couples is part of the Natalie Franke Photography Experience and for that reason… I blog all of my weddings and I only submit to publications that are okay with my work already being shown on my photography blog. But that’s a personal business decision that each photographer needs to make that choice on their own!
Tip #4: Include ALL of the Vendors Involved
This is very, very, very important! Always include a Complete & Inclusive List of participating vendors when submitting to online publications! I have my brides list all of their vendors in their Pre-Wedding Questionnaire so that I can easily credit them on my blog (and whenever I’m submitting their work after the wedding!)
It’s is always upsetting to Krista, Becka, and I as blog editors when we receive an email from a vendor who was not properly credited for his or her contributions to a wedding! The vendor often blames the publication, when the Editors never received their name in the original submission! It creates an uncomfortable situation that is entirely preventable from the start! (Trust me, I’ve dealt with this numerous times first hand as an Editor and it’s tough!)
*Note: Many magazines send out their own questionnaire to brides once a wedding has been chosen for publication! In this case, the bride actually provides the full vendor list!
A Little Known Fact: Including Vendors in your submission can be an small way to increase your odds of getting published – especially if one or more of those vendors is an advertiser of the magazine or blog to whom you’re submitting! Editors are very loyal to their advertisers and I know that at Bayside Bride we aim to feature them whenever they get the opportunity! It’s one way of saying thank you for that advertisers’ continued business and gives them a chance to show off the work of the amazing professionals in their Vendor Guide!
Tip #5: Create a Genuine + Personal Submission
Be personal and share your love for the wedding and the couple! Editors want to see that you’re excited about whatever you are sending their way!
Share why the wedding or shoot in unique and verbally express a few of the details that were special to the couple! Just make sure if you’re describing the “custom engraved crab mallets” that you include a photograph of them!
Also, always address the Editor by His or Her Name (never, I repeat… NEVER… begin emails with “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Editor” when an Editor gives his or her first name in the “About Me” Section of the website! This is a red flag that you didn’t take the time to do your research!) – Editors are people too and a little respect goes a long way!
Once your submission is accepted – A Few Quick Tips to Build Relationships with Editors:
1) Share your Featured Post on your Social Media Channels – Drive Traffic to your Feature while showing the Editors that you are excited and passionate about being included in their publication! Editors really love to see you celebrating your feature and we always remember the photographers who take the time to do so!
2) Send a Follow Up Email Thanking the Editor for Featuring your Work – On the day your post goes live (or in the days following) send an email to the Editor saying thank you!
3) Submit Again! Submit Often! – When you find an editor and a publication that you love, show them by submitting your best work early and often! There are a few editors that frequently chat with me about featuring weddings after they see them on my blog and I’m so grateful to have found a few really good “fits” for my style!
I wanted to save this final point today for the very end because I feel as though it’s the most important of them all.
You are never going to get published if you are too scared to submit.
I know it’s terrifying to send your work to an editor. I know that nervous, jittery feeling that you get when you think about packaging your work up and sending it to a stranger for critique. What if they hate it? What if they pick apart all of the flaws or don’t fall in love with the moments the way that you did? Ah!
It isn’t easy. And yes, there is a chance that you will get rejected. But I promise you, we all get rejected at some point. Even the most prolific wedding photographers with the highest paychecks… Yes, even they, have been rejected from publications!
So be courageous and give it a shot! And if at first you don’t succeed… (I’ll let you finish that sentence for me!)
I hope this post helps you with your upcoming submissions! And feel free to ask followup question in the comments section or shoot me an email if you would like to sit down one on one for Mentoring! I’m happy to help in any way that I can!