FAQ : Design, Photography + Publishing a Wedding


The conversation occurred on a sandy beach in the Cayman Islands. As I spoke with wedding designer, Calder Clark, and Southern Weddings Magazine Editor, Lara Casey, I realized we expressed similar sentiment, but came from different angles. The story: A wedding designer spends forever and a day creating a spectacular wedding. Then the photographer doesn’t pay attention to the timeline and misses his opportunity to get the detail photos. Then the magazine editor is left with a lackluster wedding submission because the detail photos are…well…lackluster. When they truly could have been spectacular.

What went wrong? And could this situation been avoided?

Calder, Lara, and I collaborated on the following blog post to offer insight as to best prepare yourself for the ideal approach if you (the photographer) and the bride are interested in submitting the wedding for magazine publication. This is merely just three girls offering our opinion. Of course, there are hundreds of ways to get it done right, but if you’d like to join our conversation, you’re more than welcome to. The comment box is yours at the end.

Rockstar photographer? That’s you. Wedding Designer in the mix? I’m in. Together: a shoo-in for the glossy mag? Hardly.

We know you’re gonna nail the first waltz and the sugary wedge of cake. But what about a shot of the entire stationery suite? Not without a plan, Stan.

Rewind, and let’s have a little pow-wow. I’ve been slaving over the details for a year. Now, the exhaustive agenda is in place and I have sky-high expectations that you’ll clone yourself and be in 4 places at once. Obviously, we need to chat.

Do we want the same thing?
I’d love to see this in a magazine, would you? I have painstaking details ready to shoot; all I need is your talent on site to capture.
How can we capture the details without destroying the fabric of the evening?
I’m armed with the timeline and you have a second shooter. How can we put our heads together to serve the bride (first and foremost) and snag the pretty little nuances before night falls?

Here’s a gameplan:

Be aggressive about being collaborative
Team up with the planner to hash out the agenda and detail shot lists. The wedding is designed for flow, but you can talk us through where your editorial prep-work fits in best.
Share your second shooter
Divide and conquer to cover all your bases. Perhaps, you can stop by to take tight shots and then retreat to the bride while your second shooter stays behind to capture the broader scope.
Think like a commercial photographer
Surfaces, props, lighting, juxtaposition: all of them matter. I can gather her old, new, borrowed, and blue if you can shoot it in the afternoon light on a reclaimed wood console.

In a nutshell? Communicate and anticipate together……then capture. Better yet, hear it from a world class photographer next.

I’ll keep this short. The only thing I need from a wedding planner is time. I just need time. I recently had a conversation with a planner and explained that there was no way I could capture the bridal party, the family (immediate and extended), the cocktail hour, the bride+groom, and reception details in the 55 minutes she allotted in the schedule.

Having the conversation opened the doors for open communication, got us on the same page, and she happily reworked the schedule to accommodate my requests. At the end of the day, the planner and I are on the same team…creating conversations in advance help ensure we work together for seamless execution, which creates a stronger wedding submission.

And, of course, I’ll take this chance to remind brides of the benefits of having a First Look. Oh, com’on…you know I wasn’t going to talk about the best thing on the wedding day besides the First Kiss! 😉

For more on this subject from an editorial perspective, here’s the ever talented Lara Casey…

Brides, if your first sentence to your planner or photographer is “Which magazines will you be submitting me to?” then, Houston, we have a problem. Planners, if in your first consultation with a bride you are talking glossies, it’s time to refocus. Photographers, If you miss an important moment because you are getting a detail shot that will look great in a spread, back up. Marriage is sacred. Photographers are paid the big bucks because they are artists hired to capture sacred moments for the couple and their family to treasure… Not for press. Having said that, yes, you are running a business. Yes, press can aid said business. I happen to publish a magazine and, like any editor, I want your best work in its pages. If you choose to submit your work, there is a way to do it well… and lots of ways to shoot yourself in the foot.

After countless conversations with fellow editors, it’s clear that, while our submission requirements may be vastly different, we share much of the same perspective on how to do it right.

What I need from the photographer is simple in concept but sometimes harder in practice. A sampling of the many things editors will thank you for:

• Rule #1 to getting published on major wedding blogs and magazines: read them. Know what they want, style, image format, who they target. Do your research and follow the rules. Every publication has a unique system for submissions. I repeat: follow the rules. Check FAQ pages before asking a question.
• Use Two Bright Lights. It is the solution to most submissions woes. You create great images, Two Bright Lights gives you the tools to get them seen in the best light. We love it and use it every day to accept work for publication.
• Make sure your brides WANT to be published. Many times we have a feature done but the bride won’t return an interview. Feature lost.
• When you do submit, put your company name in the image file name. I went through 867 image submissions last week and had to have an intern spend two hours downloading and renaming files for me to sift through. Help a girl out! “amazingweddingphotographer_rad_couple.jpg” Easy.
• For editorial, don’t over-process. Trust your images and hone your craft in the camera. I can’t stress this enough. You will rarely see heavily processed images in a magazine because we need consistency. Most editors want true-to-life color to inspire brides. Clean, crisp, clear editorial images publishable.
• Photographers, study commercial and food photography to learn how to shoot details. Brides love seeing them, we love publishing them. For our brand, we love details that have meaning and they have to be realistic to inspire brides. On that note, brides, don’t create details because they’ll look great in pictures. Create them because they reflect who you are.
• Deliver. If you want to get published, be a responsible business owner and, like I always say, just make it happen. Bottom line, no matter which role you play, be a professional. Be aware of all the players’ needs. And most of all, do your job. Take care of that couple and produce, capture, design, execute, unfold that perfect love story that is just waiting to be told. Glossies are great. Love is all that really matters.

I’m doing an online intensive on how to get published on August 24th. Too much to say in a single blog post. If you read this post, send me a twitter message and I’ll give you a special discount code for registration since I love Jasmine so much. I’m always happy to answer submission and publication questions because I want your work to shine. I want that great love story to change people, to inspire and to heighten the level of quality and integrity in our industry. Selfishly, I want to be changed by the love story you tell, too. I’m a sucker for great photography.

I know for a fact we could never touch on all the aspects of publication in a single post, so this is just the start of the conversation. We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.

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  1. Tammie

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks so much ladies – as a photographer who is wanting to get her brides published, this was definitely timely information & very much appreciated 🙂

  2. luvsick media

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Great article! I look forward to the follow up on Aug. 24th.

  3. Romonia I.

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Great post and so very true about details getting overlooked. Very informative!! I love details!! 😉
    Besides the ceremony, I love seeing the reception details, wedding details, etc! Thanks for the post! Have a great Friday!!

  4. Cindy Streams

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Very insightful! I love hearing the different perspectives. This was extremely helpful. Thanks!!!

  5. Desi Baytan

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Great blog post! Lara, thanks for the pointers on how to get published. I just recently had very similar conversations with blog editors who share your point of view. Jasmin, couldn’t agree more on the first look; there is actually more time to savor the moments than seeing each other down the aisle, not to mention more time to spend with friends and family during cocktail hour.


    July 30th, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    also a thought…all major vendors (photog, planner, floral designer) should get on the same page about the submission and where it is being sent to…they should also somewhat collaborate on which images get sent…i cannot tell you how many blog posts i have seen go up (or magazine spreads published) where i feel like there were better shots of the florals than the ones that were sent…and then it sucks because i feel like i know my work looked better than that and the photog HAS the pics to prove it! they just submitted ones that, in my opinion, weren’t the strongest…we all have different ideas on which pics are the best…a little pow-wow would be nice every once in a while instead of the photog just rushing into a submission and not consulting with the planner/designer first…i know that this added step takes time but isn’t it worth in in order to not burn bridges?! i mean often times these planners and designers are the ones referring the job to the photog in the first place…so it would be a nice gesture for the photog to consult w/ them a bit before sending it off…

  7. Dallas

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Jasmine, Calder, and Lara, thank you so much for this wonderfully written and very helpful post. It is clear here (not that there were any doubt) that you three are foremost experts on this subject. Thanks for taking the time to share this information with us!

  8. Katey

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Wow, there is so much great information in this post, I had to read it twice. Thank you so much for this input!

  9. Sarah Danaher

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Very, very helpful! Thanks for posting!

  10. Hitching Post PR

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Calder & Lara – Great perspective and points. Jasmine – Bravo (as usual) to another great Blog.

  11. Dana Fiorito

    July 30th, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Nik and I were just talking about magazine submissions. We live in a small Northern Canadian town where wedding planners are hard to come by. Should we be working more with the bride and groom and treating them as we would the planner?

  12. Nate Henderson

    July 30th, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Loved the post, especially from Lara’s POV; the wedding is about the marriage. Thanks for your words Jasmine; if we all had some time…!

  13. Feuza

    July 30th, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I need to read and reread, thanks so much for the insights, very helpful

  14. charlotte

    July 30th, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    What a great post, Jasmine! Thank you so much for sharing this expert advice! I love how Calder suggested thinking like a commercial photog and how Lara reminded us to remember that the wedding is about the marriage. A balance of both + clear communication with the wedding designer = a perfect formula for success. 🙂

  15. Audrey Smit

    July 30th, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    oohh how I loved this post J*! How you work with wedding vendors before and at weddings was pretty high up in my #1000 questions for the workshop……so super timely information for me! Can’t wait for more 🙂

  16. Brit Tucker

    July 30th, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Thanks to all three of you for sharing. Lara’s point about marriage and brides is such a solid one (as are all of the others). I think if a wedding is truly magazine-worthy, all parties must really work together, but keep that mindset of what this event really is – a wedding and a marriage. Not just a PR opportunity. Great tips ladies!!

  17. Melissa

    July 30th, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    This is so great of you ladies to put your heads together and share your different perspectives. I’m curious if any of you has advice on weddings where there simply aren’t a lot of details or the details don’t show a lot of personalization? Thanks much!

  18. Emily Heizer Photography

    July 30th, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks for putting this all together ladies… Calder Clark’s comments seem pretty off to me. What experienced photographer goes off a shot list? Do you really need a list to tell you that it’s important to get pictures of the centerpieces at the reception? Really? And sharing work with a second shooter, sure… but why would I waste time walking back and forth between two sites to get the little details and leave my 2nd shooter the task of the broad shots? That’s a poor use of time; a total waste. A well written schedule allows me the time to stick my head into the reception area and power through all of those shots in 10 or 15 minutes while the bride has hair clipped in front of her face and isn’t really camera-ready yet. Hmmm. Great information though, always wonderful to hear the different perspectives from different "geniuses" in the industry. 😉

  19. Linda Sherrill

    July 31st, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Thanks for the insight! Always learn something new on your blog!

  20. s h e r r y

    July 31st, 2010 at 5:43 am

    Thank you lovely ladies for sharing!

  21. Peyton Cooke

    July 31st, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Thank you for this post! Very helpful! 🙂 I’m liking these FAQ’s! It’s my own Jasmine Star College of Photography/Business/Being Rad. 😀

  22. Hugo Tepe

    July 31st, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Mrs. J*
    You are a Diamond in the rough. I can’t begin to express what a blessing, how helpful, and inspiring your work and your blog info is. Thank You sooo much

  23. Melissa Papaj Photography

    July 31st, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for such awesome advice! I will keep all of those things in mind while shooting weddings 🙂

  24. Lara

    July 31st, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Hi Melissa – I get asked that a lot re: "What if the wedding has no details?" I’m sure Jasmine can answer better from a photographer’s perspective on how to pull great detail shots out of very little design, but something to keep in mind is that not every wedding is publishable. It’s important to keep that in mind with submissions. Don’t submit everything… just your very best and what’s appropriate for the needs/brand of that particular publication or blog. Some people submit hundreds of images to us (many terrible that they would never deliver to a client) on the "off chance" that we will like ONE. All I end up remembering is the 100’s of terrible ones. Quality control is part of great brand development and successful submissions. So, again, not everything is publishable. Don’t be disappointed if you show up to a wedding and there are no flowers/place cards/pretty details. You still have the most important ingredient: two people in love.

  25. Karen Stott

    August 1st, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Wow! You totally did it again, and brought me brilliant information at the exact time I needed it. Thank you Lara & Jasmine for your insight on this topic. Blessings to you both.

  26. Ali

    August 1st, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    That link to the how to get published doesn’t work.

  27. Stacy Reeves

    August 1st, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    This is why cocktail hours are CRUCIAL. If there’s not a "holding area" for the guests between the ceremony and reception, there’s just no way a photographer is going to get a solid collection of detail shots before the guests start flooding in. Every time I look at a schedule, if I don’t see a cocktail hour, I’m super bummed because I know that more than likely I won’t be getting enough details to make it publishable, no matter how beautiful it is.

    I’m really glad Lara pointed out that details are pretty unimportant, in the grand scheme of things. Sure, we as vendors love to have them, and the brides enjoy them too, but not at the expense of capturing great moments and emotional interaction between people. We have to always keep that in mind when we’re prioritizing our time on the wedding day, and not let our love of getting published override the bride’s wishes.

  28. Jacque Dee

    August 1st, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    So…I’m one of the blog-stalkers you talk about. But, I’m coming out!! Hi 🙂 …..information was great here, i’m an aspiring wedding videographer cautiously seeing if this is the direction i shall go. one day i hope to collaborate with other wonderful people as yourself, calder clark and lara casey – cheers!

  29. Cathy Crawley

    August 2nd, 2010 at 3:31 am

    What a brilliant post! I wish wedding planners were the ‘norm’ in Australia but on the up side we normally get loads of time between the ceremony and reception. If only our brides cottoned onto the details like the US ones did, I am trying to get that going though 😉 Thanks for always being open and inspiring J*!

  30. roggersmith

    August 2nd, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    A wedding in bay area is always so much exciting for the couples. But bay area wedding photography has to be unique. Its approach has to be creative and documentary. And there has to be a natural approach in bay area wedding photography to the capture and editing of the photos to build a strong connection with the bride and grooms.

  31. Truc

    August 3rd, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Such an informative post. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Fotograaf Amersfoort

    August 26th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Very nice


    Patrick from the Netherlands

  33. Andrew J. Filipowicz

    August 28th, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Hi girls, just s quick thanks to you all for this post. Got me thinking about more than just getting published. Inspiration is everywhere!

    Jasmine, thanks for giving back,..all the time.

    Best wishes to you all,

  34. runa

    May 10th, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Very useful post.Thanks for sharing.