The idea of getting published can be really daunting at times. I remember the first time I ever submitted a wedding for publication. My heart was beating out of my chest, scared to death of the dreaded rejection email. You may be asking yourself: “How do I even start? I don’t know the first thing about getting publications.” Or maybe you’re thinking, “My work isn’t good enough.” “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t want to get rejected.” If you are saying any of these things, then this blog post is for you! Getting started is easier than you may think! Below I’ll tell you exactly where I go to get my work published as well as my favorite places to submit, what publications are looking for, and how to stand out from the other submissions!
Before we dive into tips on getting published, I think we should briefly talk about WHY you would want to get published. The reason most people choose not to submit their work is because of their fear of rejection and lack of time. However, I feel that submitting your work is still worth your time no matter how frustrating it can be sometimes to keep hearing “NO”. Let me tell you a little secret, guys. I’ve been told no WAY more times than yes. I’ve been there. I know how it feels. And it STILL happens! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Reach out to a new blog, a big name magazine just for the heck of it, and make connections! You may hear a lot of NO’s at first, but one day you’ll hear that beloved “YES” and it’ll all be worth it!
As a photographer, getting your work published is a great way to get recognized in our large photography industry and to gain credibility with peers and clients. From a client perspective, clients LOVE to see their wedding highlighted in a blog or magazine. Who doesn’t love to feel like a celebrity for a day? My clients love the fact that I get each one of my weddings published! It takes a lot of work and a good bit of knowledge from personal experience and reading, but seeing how excited my clients get after their wedding is published is worth every minute! My hopes is that by reading the tips below, you will bypass some of the guess-and-check learning that I had to go through when I first started submitting.
Here are my top 5 tips for how to get your work published!
- Shooting for Publication. While you’re photographing the wedding, you’ll want to remember to shoot a mixture of vertical and horizontal images, but shooting more along the vertical side. Publications love photos that are vertical because they can put two photos side by side. Vertical images also make for great magazine covers 🙂 You’ll want to look for the best light possible in all situations on the wedding day. Natural light is usually preferred by publications, but when it’s not possible, use flash! There’s always a way to make your flash look really natural! I would also strive for consistent looking light throughout the entire wedding. Publications LOVE consistency so they can tell a cohesive story that fits with their brand.
- Do Your Research. If you haven’t already, you should do a little research. No two publications are the same and they all feature different photography styles. Blogs like Style Me Pretty feature bright and airy imagery while blogs like Green Wedding Shoes feature more of the dark and moody style of photography. Research what each publication is looking for and submit content that will be of interest to them for your best chance of getting published. Almost all blogs and magazines have articles or pages on their website that are dedicated to what they’re looking for in a submission. This is a great place to read up on each publication and see if your wedding fits their criteria.
- Where to Submit. I highly suggest using a platform like Two Bright Lights to submit your weddings. The yearly price for TBL is only $14.95 per month and it’s even cheaper if you choose to do the yearly version. It’s SO easy with platforms like this! I love that you can organize your weddings into albums, enter all relevant information pertaining to that wedding, and have access to hundreds of publications all in one place! Of course, you don’t NEED a platform to submit. You can also go directly to each website and submit there if you’d like. Your submission decisions may be different from mine since some of my favorites are location based, but some my favorite publications to submit to are Style Me Pretty, Wedding Guide Chicago, Chicago Style Weddings Magazine, and The Knot. I also loved submitting to Elizabeth Anne Designs, Huffington Post, and Bridal Guide just to name a few.
- Details and Portraits are what most publications are looking for, with a few other wedding day moments (candid moments, getting ready, ceremony, first dances, etc) sprinkled in. There’s no need to include family portraits, “Individuals” of the bridal party, cocktail hour, or guest photos. The publication’s readers are looking for inspiration for their own wedding day, so editors want to showcase what makes your particular wedding different from the others they’ve featured. Shoot details from different sides to provide the editors with a variety of the same detail (this is a little trick for when my couple doesn’t have a ton of different details). I also suggest shooting the details as well as the portraits close up, far away, horizontal, and vertical. You’re also going to want to cull down your wedding with a fine tooth comb. You may deliver somewhere between 500-1000 images to your client, but you’ll only want to submit 100-150 images to publications. Choose the best of the best and cut out anything that’s messy (like getting ready rooms that weren’t cleaned before photos) or not very nice looking (like those standard metal folding chairs)!
- Take Notes. About 6 weeks before the wedding day (when they’re not working with a wedding planner), I send my couples a questionnaire. It asks them about everything related to the wedding day from when they’re going to be getting ready, what time the ceremony is, to who all their vendors are. This gives me the information that I need to create their wedding day timeline as well as their publication submissions. I also take mental notes (and write them down later) throughout the wedding day so I can remember them when it comes time for submission. “What was her ‘something blue’? What was special about the cufflinks that the bride gave her groom? Why did they choose that song as their first dance song? What did the best man say in his speech that made everyone tear up?” I try to be very aware of my surroundings. I try to remember how it felt as I walked in the getting ready room, the groom’s face as he sees his bride for the first time, and when my bride said how much she adored her floral bouquet. All of these things are what makes your wedding special and unique. Remember the little things and add those into the submission. You can also take it another step farther and email your couple a few questions so you can get their own thoughts and perspective from the wedding day. Publications LOVE to hear from the couple directly!
After photographing weddings for over 6 years now, I still get rejected, so don’t get discouraged if you get a NO email. Keep trying and you WILL succeed! I can promise you that! Plus, you never know if you’ll get published until you try! Learn from the rejections and celebrate your acceptances! Your hard work and diligence will pay off. Now go out there, and start submitting! 🙂 I’m rooting for you!
Have questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below! I’d love to hear from you and to help you get your work published!