One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is about how to submit your work to a magazine or blog. How do you do? Which one do you submit to? What if no one ever replies to you? I've been very fortunate and grateful that my wedding photography has been published in several print magazines, online magazines and numerous blogs. My work has also been featured on magazine covers, published in books, and I photographed an entire wedding book (Weddings In Color) as well. With my years of submission experience, I thought I'd take some of the guess work out of submissions and share some of my best practices to help you create the best submission so you can to potentially get featured.
Why should you submit your wedding to a Blog or Magazine? One of the best benefits of having your work featured in print or online is to showcase your work, your vendors work and your clients vision. Most of my couples love when their wedding is featured and all of the vendors appreciate the recognition. It's sort of a "job well done" moment for everyone involved once the feature is live online or printed. Second, the SEO is an incredible marketing tool for you, your vendors, and venues. The more links back to your site means the more opportunities for new people will find you. The venue and vendors also get a great return for their work and when they show their services to new potential clients, they will be using your images to do so. Last, Social Proof that you are good photographer and editors/publishers think so as well. Your couples will see your work in more places other than your own website, blog and instagram account. What's the old saying? You have to see something 7 times before you remember it, so the more times you are featured online or in print, they will remember your name when looking for a wedding photographer.
How to Submit your Wedding Photography to a Blog or Magazine
No. 1 - Curate Your Images - Most magazines or blogs want up to 100 images per submission ONLY. This means that you have to be super selective about which images you include in your submission. You can tailor each submission to the specific publication by focusing on which images they might like to see included. Speaking for myself, I only include up to 100 of my BEST images from each wedding, engagement or styled shoot. I look at each image individually and ask myself if I were to be judged on this one image alone, would I be ok with this photo to represent my entire portfolio. If I don't, then it doesn't make the submission. You have to be harsh with your choices because a smaller and stronger submission will have a better chance of being selected vs. 100 "just ok" images that don't represent your artist ability.
No. 2 - Get Your Specs Right! - In most cases, the online publication or magazine will have a FAQ or Submissions page where you can find out exactly what specifications they are looking for regarding image count, size and how to submit. Once you know what they will (or won't accept) you should start to curate your images. Be sure to include every single vendor you worked with inside your submission. You don't want to accidentally forget to mention someone who worked really hard on the event.
*PRO TIP* - I created Lightroom Export Presets for each publication I regularly submit to thus saving me time and energy per submission. I put in all their image specifications, save my preset and export my images. Super easy and very fast!
No. 3 - Make Sure Your Style Matches the Publication - I cannot stress this enough but if your photography style isn't a match for the magazine you are submitting too, chances are you will not be accepted. I highly recommend that you do your research and figure out which publications you would like to be featured in and see if your style would fit their esthetic. Like minds think a like and like images will most likely get accepted on a blog that features similar style imagery. Once you've figured out your ideal publication and curated your submission, in time you will have more accepted features than rejections.
No. 4 - How to Submit Your Images - Again, this information is most likely clearly stated in the FAQ or Submissions section on their website or masthead of the magazine however you do have a few options:
Submit directly to the publication via their website or blog.
Contact the editors directly and send your images via online gallery or Dropbox (or similar service).
*PRO TIP* If you do this method, please make sure your galleries and Dropbox folders do NOT have a password on them. You want the editors to easily gain access to your images and quickly review the photos at a glance. You do not want to hinder their ability to view your work.
Use a third-party software application such as Two Bright Lights or Matchology. This is a subscription bases services that allows you to upload your images and submit to multiple blogs and magazines from one central location. It can save you time in the long run because you will not have to fill out the vendor information or re-upload the images because all of that information is already in online. The Knot owns Two Bright Lights so they want all their submissions to go through that system and Matchology is a great tool for more localized niche blogs which is perfect for targeting your audience.
No. 5 - Following Up and Being NICE! - After you have successfully submitted your wedding, engagement session or styled shoot for consideration, it's a waiting game. Usually on the FAQ page, the publication will tell you how long it will be until you hear from them. Most places are between 4-6 weeks but some outlets never reply. They receive so many submissions that it would be impossible to get back to everyone. I know, it's a bummer but it does happen. What I like to do is follow up in two week intervals to the editors via email. I will send a polite email simply following up on my submission and asking if any decisions have been made. It's short and sweet and ALWAYS nice. I cannot stress this enough! DO NOT BE MEAN PEOPLE!! The editors are the gate keepers to their online / print world and you do not want to piss them off. You will never get a reply if you are rude or following up to the point where they have moved your email into their SPAM folder the very moment it comes pops up. (just kidding!!) When you are nice, you can follow up and not be annoying and they will remember that. Even if you were rejected, maybe that editor will remember your work for another feature and reach out to use one of your images some where else. It happens ALL the time so if you start burning bridges now, it's not going to get any better along the road.
No. 6 - Don't Take It Personally - Nobody likes rejection and it can truly sting when it's about your photography. Believe me, I would know! It happens all the time but that's ok because it might sting for a few hours (a day at the most!) but I do not take it personally. I just move on to the next publication and try again. It could be that the blog just featured a wedding very similar to yours, or you style didn't match, or it just wasn't a fit and hey, that's ok! If you want, you can ask the editor why they rejected your work and if they had any advice to share. This information and feedback is INVALUABLE, if they reply to you. Not all will, but some do! Gaining access into an editors insight is going to help you with your next submission, your next shoot and your next wedding to make it even better than before.
BONUS: I received a couple of questions about how I style my flat lay detail photos for weddings and submissions. While I'm no expert, I do love taking the time to style these photos to tell a cohesive narrative of my couples wedding day. The bonus? Publications LOVE these type of photos that clearly and beautiful showcase the couples details of the day.
One of the best resources I can recommend on learning how to style your own flat lay photos is the online course by wedding photographer Rebecca Yale. I purchased her course earlier this year and it's over 5 hours of incredible information and demonstration videos. You can find out more about the course here and use the code KERSHNER10 at check out so she knows you found her course through my site :) It's worth the investment and I cannot recommend it enough!
I hope this was helpful and encourages you to submit your work to be considered for publication. With a little effort and time, you'll be getting more Yes's than No's in no time! Have any questions you'd like me to answer? Please leave it in the comments below. I can't wait to hear from you!