On Tuesday, Justin & I were SO lucky to be invited as two of the featured guest speakers at the Two Bright Lights workshop that is going around the country right now! We have been using TBL for years now as a way to streamline our submissions workflow to magazines & blogs and have everything in one place and we absolutely LOVE it!
So we were super honored when they invited us in to speak not only to the photographer’s point of view on getting published more & what shots to go for, but also from the publications side of things now that we are also editors with our own two wedding blogs The Black Tie Bride & The Well Groomed Groom. Those two blogs have just exploded in ways we could have never imagined this year, and they are becoming a bigger & bigger part of who we are now! The other day I was introduced first as the Editor in Chief of The Black Tie Bride, and that was SO crazy since for so long I’ve been introduced as a wedding photographer first! It is definitely an exciting season for us & we are SO excited to see where it all goes from here! We’re just super grateful for all of it and I think it’s crazy the places that life takes you!
But anyway, back to the event! :) I think it was such a cool place to be in, to be able to see both sides of things at once. Both to know the shots that we, as editors, are looking for, but also to know as photographers all the challenges that go in to getting those shots. For example, some of the other editors who were speaking (there were some AMAZING other folks there that night including Bridget Clegg from The Knot, Kunbi Odubogun from Aisle Perfect, Maggie Lord from Rustic Wedding Chic, and Ragan Kensington from Two Bright Lights ) had mentioned that they love room shots before the guests get in there & pictures of the escort cards before any of them are taken! We totally agree! And we also understand, as photographers, how tough those shots can be to get if the room isn’t finished until a minute before guests are let in or the escort card table is left visible to guests before the ceremony (what IS it with guests wanting to grab those cards up as soon as possible?!)
So it was really fun to both speak to what editors are looking for & also to give some practical tips from the photography side of things on how to get them! I’ve included 5 of my favorite things we went over below & we hope it helps both in approaching the day AND getting you featured more! And if you haven’t been submitting to publications yet because you feel like you just don’t have the time, definitely check out Two Bright Lights as a way to streamline everything!
1. Match your Messenger Rather than tying yourself in knots and pretending that you & your work are something that they aren’t just to get published somewhere, instead figure out who you are and what you want your work to stand for and then submit to wedding publications that fall in line with THAT! Remember that one of the best advantages of getting published is that it will send brides your way, but if you are constantly trying to get published somewhere that doesn’t really stand for what you want your work to stand for, then they aren’t going to be sending you YOUR kind of brides. List three words you want your work to be known for & then seek out the wedding publications where you would use those same three words to describe them!
2. Think of your submission as an overall collective first. I can tell you from the editor’s point of view that I am ALWAYS getting my first impression of a submission by looking at the overall gallery as a collective (kind of like a pinterest board) in thumbnail view. That means that even if you have a couple of killer individual images in there, it’s still most likely not going to get accepted unless I feel like overall this is a really strong submission. So what makes a strong overall collective? a) make sure you tell an overarching story of the day and give me extra coverage of emotional/candid moments, details, and portraits of the couple. b) make sure that the images as a collective are processed in the same, clean way. We see it all the time where none of the black & whites match because a slightly different action was used on each one or where the color balance is all over the place. Consistency is key. And c) don’t water down your submission with sub-par images just to show more. Curate your work & show your best stuff! More is not always better and in fact if, as I glance through that overall collective, I see too many images that are a no then it waters down that whole submission and makes it very unlikely that it will be accepted.
3. Remove Visual Noise. Bridget in particular did a GREAT job of talking about this and showing examples of how a clean background makes for a much stronger image! Remember that magazines in particular & sometimes blogs are looking for images with clean negative space so that they have the potential of adding copy (text) to them. Also we’re just more attracted to clean, simple images because they aren’t as confusing or distracting. So that means having the time to get in there and take out distracting elements like the salt & pepper shakers, butter, or waiter trays in the background. In general, try to shoot straight across the details so that the background falls off even more with shallow depth of field. And don’t forget to shoot both collectives of the details (i.e. an entire table top), but also clean, individual shots of details such as an individual shot of the centerpiece without the table number, an individual shot of the table number, an individual shot of the menu. That’s because the editor might love everything about the table except for one component & having those individual options will still allow them to be able to feature the whole wedding!
4. Make time to shoot & style the details. But as a photographer, I know what you’re thinking! “I usually get five minutes to shoot the details, when am I going to have time to do all that?” The answer is Justin & I have learned to make time by educating our brides early and letting them know that we need about 45 minutes to shoot the details and that if getting published is a priority for them, this is a must! And then we also work to educate them about keeping guests out of the reception until cocktail hour is over. We even have a place on our “info sheet” where we ask “Will the reception area be closed off to guests during cocktail hour” and then in parentheses (so we can get great shots of all those details before they come in!) Just this one simple change has made a WORLD of difference in us getting time to shoot the details the way we want to! You can find our info sheet by clicking HERE & feel free to use it for your own couples too!
5. Avoid stiff or cheesy posing. Finally, as I was writing this talk I had sort of an “a-ha” moment about something that influences editors that they might not even be aware of and that is stiff, cheesy posing. For us at The Black Tie Bride, this is definitely something we filter out because we are photographers ourselves and one of our guiding words is “authentic.” But I think across the board, editors are paying more attention to the posing than anyone would think because they’ve come to realize that the really good photographers out there (who are getting & submitting the really good weddings they want to be featuring) tend to have the much or authentic, organic posing going for them. There have been a number of weddings that we have turned down at the BTB because even though the wedding was a very elegant day at an iconic venue, the whole day felt cheesy because of how the posing was handled. It makes a HUGE difference! So when in doubt go for more authentic, natural looking poses and the best way to do that is to add MOVEMENT into what you’re asking them to do.
As always, we hope that helped! Feel free to leave any questions (or just say HI) in the comments below!
Have an amazing weekend you guys!