WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE SWEET LOVE – remember these lyrics?
Oh hey there lovers and fellow artists! Tis Valentine’s day today and I’m perfectly sure you’re all overwhelmed with what to post, how to word, and most likely which styled-shoot or real-wedding images to share with your audience. Most likely, I’ll be doing quite the same, soon as I finish writing, but first I’d like to take the opportunity and honor the day with a loving gesture towards our community. There have been many times some of you have asked me for the best input on how to get your wedding photography published on blogs and magazines, and I feel there is no time like the present to share. Please know, this is definitely not gospel, rather a perspective and experience-based heart-to-heart.
Think of yourself as a wedding magazine or wedding blog editor. Your medium receives tons (I mean it) of gorgeous-looking real weddings and countless (nah, zillions of) styled-shoots every month. With such a wealth of material received it’s only natural that you seek out to feature : the most inspiring / the most beautiful / the most original /the most influential / the most powerful / the most conceptualized / the most emotive/ the most transformative / the most statement-making / the most seamlessly curated experiences.
Noticed I underlined the last word in the previous sentence? This is no link my friends. No matter what else, to a blog or a magazine experiences are the most valuable and precious point. (More on that later).
Changing your perspective means that you will be able to distance yourself from your work and be more mindful towards every bride, groom, broom, groode, brim’s needs (another hint for you, more on that later as well).
Changing your perspective means that you will be able to tell whether what you are sending out there really does the magazine or the blog service. And what is their service? To offer new ideas, to revisit classics, to pour inspiration, to create buzz, to make waves. Why? Because that is the reason behind running a blog in the first place.
Now that you’ve began thinking like an editor it is time to see what kind of blog you are running (and therefore, when you switch back to your wedding photographer /planner side where to submit).
To see what kind of blog you run answer these questions in your mind: Is your blog/zine aimed at destination couples? DIY? Luxury weddings? And who does it address? The LGBT community? The everyday couple? The luxury couple? The non-conformist? Finally, what style of imagery does your blog accept? Darker? Moody? Caramel-toned? Fine Art? Film? What kind of vendors does your blog endorse? Photographers? Planners? Florists? Wedding designers? Wedding fashion? Do you regularly feature wedding material from these vendors? Do these vendors pay to be featured? Do you publish non-membership posts? What do you look for in a creator submitting in order for them to be excluded from the list of “those who have to pay to get featured” ?
Owning and running a wedding blog, you see, comes with tons of decisions like that, with which your photography-taking skills have nothing to do. Once you have done this kind of math you’ll be able to do the switch back to your submitting photographer self and know whether you’re a good fit for a specific platform.
Let me tell you I’ve been through this hard practice so many times before perfecting the art of being a hundred percent realistic about the work I send out . BUT knowing exactly what kind of material blogs will receive from you is essential to save you time, and resources. Not to mention, this kind of intelligence will land you with a publication 99% of the times.
Why it’s not always easy: When we’ve spent countless hours curating, editing, re-framing, cleaning out possible visual distractions, and a hundred more tasks to ensure we deliver one beautiful gallery to each couple, we start growing fond feelings about this work. It’s not work anymore, it’s a child of labor and love. Hence, it is harder for us not to think of it as something special.
Please, do not get me wrong. Every wedding is special, every client is dear, and most of them are so dear, we would love to surprise them beautifully with that cherry on top “your wedding was so amazing, a blog chose it for the front page!” BUT- feelings aside, a wedding blog/zine works strictly on what is in demand, what is the next big thing, what is excitingly fresh, and what is packed with one amazing experience after the next. It’s their job!
If you have practiced step 2 diligently then you will see that being realistic about the work you send is a life (and a time) saver. Instead of spending hours sending work that doesn’t fit like a glove to their requisites, you already know from the start that some works, no matter how dear to us, are not publication material. Not because the images aren’t good enough -heck they may be brilliant- but because other elements are missing. Or because some blogs have had enough of that thing.
Last year, and because of the C-19 crisis, blogs were inundated with the most staggering number of styled-shoots ever! Everyone was having a styled-shoot someplace because there were less weddings in 2020. Smaller businesses decided to upgrade their services – hence they needed new material – aka styled-shoots. Bigger businesses decided to show something extraordinary – aka styled shoots. Venues were not occupied throughout the entire summer – aka styled shoots. And new venues and businesses opened because there was a shift of the winds – aka styled shoots. Were you a blog editor you would be on Xanax by mid-January. And since things became way more optimistic for 22, and 23 and there was a revival in traveling, you’ve guessed it… more styled shoots. And this time real weddings too! Larger than life- plusher – lavisher and more unapologetically pretty than ever. The chances to be featured through a styled-shoot shortened in lieu of real-life events happening in an effort to breathe optimism and courage into the industry. They wanted to see great stories of romance, love and strength more than just pretty things. And when it came to pretty things, they wanted to see off-the-charts visual candy.
My point is when you see your own work (and that of a wedding planner /designer) through the eyes of an editor, clarify, and go pragmatic on what people will see then getting featured becomes easier. Speaking of being pragmatic…
Knowing what is happening around the globe, being part of humanity’s movements and resonating are major aspects of every artist’s world. As wedding photographers, much like every other artist out there, we have a very significant platform that doesn’t only speak of beauty and charm, but also about diversity, ecology, empowerment, just to name a few. Our sensitivities are important, and many-a-time a chance to make a statement.
But using imagery as clickbait -although a very common practice in the media and often a means to get noticed – should not be a goal. If your brand naturally supports a cause, an ideology, a movement then by all means state it and speak to people about it with the images you submit. Blogs will love you for it. But just -say- sending out a shoot with two grooms in hope that editors will adore the fact that it is different… well let me tell you, it is not.
BUT what will feel different in every good sense is how you word your work and how you address the readers with your images. Remember that bride, groom, broom, groode, underlined sentence? That was what I meant.
This is by far the hardest to put in words. Being inclusive has to do with many factors. First it means not excluding any of the parties, or groups involved at a real wedding or a styled shoot. Their opinions, thoughts, and emotions matter, because that is what real couples want to read about. They WANT to read about how a botanical designer came up with the concept, they WANT to find out more about how a celebration was realized under odd circumstances, they WANT to know about who did what and how, and they WANT to get inspired.
Therefore the images you create (and send) should not only contain parts of what happened where, who wore what, when, and why, but all these should be absolutely gorgeous looking! This is the exclusive part. Exclude anything that doesn’t tell the story any more (duplicates are a nightmare, I know). Exclude aesthetics that don’t speak the language of the blog you are aiming for. Include the joy, the fun, the panache. Know that when something is left unsaid it remains unsaid. Readers can never “guess” what certain images mean or what the story is behind them. And be exclusive about the blogs you send out your work to.
I definitely don’t mean having a Christmas tree in the background of an “Elegant summer wedding at the Hamptons”. But an editor will notice the difference between autumn and summer florals in your images, or if that dress your protagonist is wearing is spring 2017, instead of summer 2022. Not that it matters at all, as long as you are honest about things and your images resonate with the season, the descriptions, the headlines, and the feel you mean to evoke. I’ve once had an editorial published four years after the shoot took place. It didn’t matter as there was no date on the stationery, the color palette, the concept, the details, the venue, the descriptions, and the time all felt right. This was a great lesson for me, stating obviously, timing is everything even in getting your work published. And it never hurts to try and send a past work either!
Which means before you decide to press share and submit you need to know that what you are sharing is something the blog has not posted three weeks ago. Yes, it is a fast world, yes, people forget what they saw, and yes, not all people are hooked on a blog’s every post. This is why there is not only one “blush wedding ideas” article out there. And that is why, in view of the upcoming Spring, we see the most beautiful floral weddings ever early in March.
Nope, blogs are not the Miranda Priestl-ies to your botanical wedding images.
But unless your images depict something actually groundbreaking, or offer something fresh instead of what the blog you submit to has been posting for the last two months, your chances to get published are not high. On April 2020 a very illustrious blog came definitive about the overwhelming number of pink weddings they received, by letting photographers know through their guidelines page: “Please reffer from sending any blush/ or pink wedding ideas”.
Part of doing that homework is of course to:
Right from an editor’s mouth: I’m always surprised to find out some photographers never read our guidelines and have never read our blog… For every blog – just like with every wedding photographer out there- there is a specific target audience. And reading the blog hardly means spending a few minutes skimming through their latest features.
Being a blog’s intentional reader will help you understand what their material is all about, what keeps their audience engaged, and what grabs the editor’s and the readers’ attention. It will also inform you greatly on the winning points, the style they are seeking, how important details, and edits are to them. Finally you will get familiar with who are the editors and what they wish to communicate through their platform.
Guidelines are not a decorative element. They actually carry precious information. Be intentional about them as what works for one may mean a completely different process for another. Do they wish you to send a link to your gallery? A specific number of images? A text with headlines? A curated text? The couple’s own words?
Again, go into an editor’s shoes and think receiving 600 images from a gorgeous wedding when they only ask for 120. Now they need to spend a significant amount of time choosing because you neglected their guidelines. They won’t.
Anything from duplicate images to duplicate submissions (to other blogs) is a no-go. Why? Simply because no editor will ever appreciate a photographer who has put them through the trouble of curating and writing a feature only to find out another blog is getting to publish the wedding. Yikes.
Many photographers -great ones to boot- start getting all glittery when it comes to approaching blog editors. Some have confided they fear of rejection, others don’t really know how to start conversation, some put off their submissions because they are not certain if what they have is good enough, and several more think of editors as Judge Judy.
Let me tell you how far from reality this is by mentioning I got to exchange regular emails with one of the greatest US fashion magazine editors ever, and to no surprise she is the kindest, most down-to-earth, most obliging person I’ve ever had the pleasure to talk to (and she runs a colossus).
If you are honest, kind, open, and confident know this for certain, every blogger, or magazine editor will get to reply to you sooner or later. First, because they’ve been where you are “aching to get noticed”, second because they are passionate about what goes into their publications, and third because discovering new talent is always refreshing! That doesn’t mean you get to get featured right away, but if you are willing to open up conversation, if you are frank and willing to get some guidance and tips, you’ll end up, more than getting featured, building something. Which is way more valuable and time-proof.
When a blog turns down a wedding feature they do not mean to downsize your work, so do not get disappointed. Wedding blogs would not exist without the photographers’ (and videographers’) works, and even the poshest ones keep several photographers and creators under consideration for future publications. If you’ve received a negative reply, contact the editor again and ask for some feedback when they see fit. Or perhaps they’d be interested in keeping some of your images for collective inspirational posts like the ones seen on MSW!
Last but not least
reading blogs, and discussing with editors in mind, and shoot intentionally. Keep educating yourself, be it through magazine reading, fashion watching, workshop attending (not only newbies attend workshops), nurturing your signature vision, photography, and path. A magazine feature or a blog publication is a beautiful thing, and something to keep your creative juices running, but the real deal of the journey is your dream clients. These are the ones you are here to serve!
Wishing you all happy Valentine’s!