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Getting Published: It’s All In the Details

February 16th, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Style

Publication can be a wonderful thing for your business on many levels.  It can give you a chance to showcase a particularly beautiful wedding beyond the scope of your blog readership.  It can also put you on the radar of planners and event designers who may love your work enough to contact you and refer you in the future.  It can give your business a degree of credibility and longevity in an industry fraught with nightmare stories of “take the money and run” vendors.  Add to that the fact that it is exciting to open a magazine and see your work smiling up at you, and publication because a win-win for almost everyone.

The secret to publication is an easy one to learn: capture the details, and capture them well.  After all, why do brides, stylists, and planners pick up a wedding magazine or scroll through a style blog?  Most of the time they are looking for inspiration.  You may have the best close-up shot of a bride and groom ever, but unless that shot is of Brad and Angelina or Kate and William you aren’t going to sell that wedding to any blogs or magazines unless you have supporting details.

In this post, I’m going to go through ten steps that can lead to publication.  This is a recipe that has worked well for me, and I’m confident that it can work for you, too!

1) Know Your Details.  The ground work for publication usually starts before you even take out your camera at an event.  Know who your vendors are and what they are providing.  Find out the story behind the details and if there are any details that might not appear at the event itself (gift bags, invitations, save the dates, etc).  Encourage the couple to bring a set of additional details to the wedding with them so that you can capture them.  Also, make sure that you arrive early enough and/or leave yourself enough time to capture absolutely everything. Whether the details are hand-made etsy creations or custom details whipped up by an expensive designer, they all serve to make the wedding unique and publishable.

2) Over-Shoot Your Details.  Shoot your details horizontally AND vertically.  Choose different lenses, focal lengths, and apertures.  Shoot them from different angles and be aware of the background and the light.  Magazines have limited space and options for layouts- make it easy for them to choose your wedding by providing many details from many different angles and in both orientations.

3) Don’t Forget the Venue.  Detail shots of the venue can also sell your wedding.  Don’t forget to show off the venue(s) from several different angles in different light.  I once had a wedding published that included three almost-identical shots of the venue: one in the morning (when I arrived), one during the ceremony that included the ceremony itself, and one in the evening with an inky blue sky and lights blazing from the windows.  Great shots of the venue not only endear you to the publisher, but they also make venue owners very happy.

4) Give a Sense of Place to Your Photographs.  Close-up shots are great, but don’t forget the environmental shots as well.  Show the couple against the mountain backdrop or on the beach in Cabo- include environmental keys that are indicative of and/or specific to the location.

5) Don’t Kill the Ambient Light.  Whether you are adding fill light to a scene or you are lighting a reception, don’t kill the ambient light.  Let the warmth of the candle glow into your photographs or highlight the purple up-lighting during the first dance.  Lighting not only sets the mood of the reception, but it can also be a great selling point for your wedding.  Make sure that your shutter speed is low enough and/or your strobe power is low enough to let the ambient into the shot.  (Do you have trouble with reception lighting?  ShootStyle has a series of workshops to help you learn how to light your receptions.)

6) Remember the Food!  Whether your couple chooses to have cute sliders, fun cocktails, a cappuccino bar or a dessert table, the food and beverages at a wedding can provide you with some fabulous details!

7) Feature the Unique.  If your event has something unique (well, few things are unique at this stage- I should say if it has something that not every wedding has…) like a canine ring-bearer, fireworks, or a pinata, be sure to include several photographs of the event/detail in your submission and also mention it in your description of the event.

8) Don’t Post Your Photographs All Over the Internet.  Many publications (both print and internet) want exclusivity.  That is, they don’t want the photographs unless they are showing up for the first time on their pages.  Many will let you submit if you have posted on your own blog, but some won’t.  Know the rules and follow them.  I know that it is tempting to share images from a favorite wedding on forums, facebook, twitter, etc, but hold back until you know what you are going to do with the images.  Even if a publication tells you that you can post to your own blog, proceed with caution- some style blogs will lift the wedding from your website and “feature it” without your permission, thereby killing your chances with other publications.

9) Choose Your Publication Wisely.  If you are new to the publication game, you will most likely be submitting your images yourself.  As you become known to editors, they will keep an eye on your work and will start asking your for particular weddings.  However, in the beginning most photographers will need to do the grunt work on their own.  What should you look for in a publication?  Make sure that it fits your wedding.  If you photographed a beautiful country wedding on hay bales, then you may not have much luck getting that published in a magazine that features NYC weddings.  Most magazines and style blogs have a niche- make sure you know what it is before you submit your work.  ALSO, you should choose a publication that your brides/planners/stylists are frequenting.  If you work out of the northeast exclusively, having your images published in an Australian magazine might not bring you any more business.

10) Try and Try Again.  Editors will occasionally give you feedback on weddings- not enough details, etc.  Listen to the feedback and learn from it.  Keep perusing the publications that you are targeting- you will learn about their style and the kind of work that they like to feature.

Have fun and enjoy the beauty at every event!    ~Michelle

Post by Maine Wedding Photographer Michelle Turner.

About Michelle Turner

Michelle Turner has written 19 post in this blog.

Michelle is a professional wedding photographer who splits time between Maine and Puerto Vallarta.

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