FAQ : How To Get a Wedding Published

Personal

So the story goes like this: During my first year of business, I was contacted by a fabulous bride. Nicole found my work and decided to book online after reading my blog and discovering we went to college together (though she graduated a couple years after me). Shortly after shooting her wedding, I received amazing news that she earned the position of assistant editor at Inside Weddings Magazine. I was beyond proud of her and we sent a flurry of emails back and forth with giddy excitement. I know I say this too often, but–really–I love my brides.

A couple months later, I shot Kasey and Nick’s wedding in Seattle. Nicole–being the fabulous J* Bride that she is–still followed my blog (10,000 bonus cool points for her!)–so she dropped a line and suggested I submit the wedding for publication in Inside Weddings Magazine. There were no guarantees of publication, but she felt it’d be a good fit for the winter issue. Lo and behold, when I received news the wedding was published, I was through the roof with excitement!!

Since then, I’ve received emails from photographers asking how they can get published. Embarrassingly, I’m the first to admit, I’m no expert…in fact, I really don’t have the best of suggestions. A bit ago, I was struck with the idea I should contact Inside Wedding Magazine’s Senior Editor, Marilyn Oliviera, and pass along the questions I’m commonly asked. Nervously, I emailed her…with the tonality of Oliver Twist asking for more soup. I totally didn’t think she’d respond (due to her busy schedule and uber fab life), but she carved out time for blog readers and I’m incredibly thankful.

Photo Credit: Jay Lawrence Goldman

*What’s the best piece of advice you can offer when submitting a wedding for publication?
When submitting to a magazine, send a lot of detail shots of the wedding. Often I’ll receive dozens and dozens of beautiful images of people, and while they’re lovely to look at, what I really need to see more of is the event itself. Amazing floral arrangements, unique decor, creative tabletop — these are the things that give brides inspiration for their own weddings and end up composing most of a feature.

*What’s one thing to avoid when submitting a wedding for publication?
Don’t send more than one or two weddings at a time unless you already have a relationship with the editor and/or you’ve been specifically asked to do so. I’ve received as many as 20 (20!) disks at a time from a single submitter, and it’s just too much time to devote to a single person. Narrow it down to your very best work on the most beautiful events, and submit those.

*What’s something you wish everyone did when submitting a wedding for publication?
I wish everyone would include the following information with their submissions: the wedding date; the wedding location; and the couple’s names and contact info. When and where a wedding took place are both important components of the consideration process, and once a wedding is selected, the editor will need to contact the bride and groom to get the process rolling. It may seem like basic info, but sometimes I’ll get a disk with absolutely no references at all — just a CD with a photographer’s name on it — and I have to hunt down the additional information before I can consider the wedding.

*How many images should a photographer include when submitting a wedding for publication? What’s too many?
I personally prefer around 100-150 of the best images — lots of detail shots! — that cover everything from the bride and groom getting ready to dancing at the reception. That might be a lot for other editors, but I find that it holds up the process to have to ask for additional images to review and then wait for the photos to arrive. Anything over 250 tends to be too many — I find myself sifting through a lot of people shots and images that all look the same. Whatever you do, do not send all of the photos for an entire wedding — make sure you edit for fantastic shots and key parts of the event, and send the best images you have.

*How do you prefer receiving wedding submissions? Like, do you like contact sheets? A cover letter? A Q+A from the bride regarding the wedding details? What kind of CD case do you prefer? Etc.
A disk that is clearly labeled with the photographer’s name, the couple’s name, and the wedding date and location (Lisa Smith & Don Jones — 12/21/08 — Miami, FL — Photos by Jasmine Star) is like gold to me; if it gets separated from its cover sheet, I can pick it up and know exactly what it is and where it came from immediately. Including a short cover letter is fine, and a full or partial vendor list is even better. Inside Weddings’ submission policy requires that a member of our Editor’s Circle make the submission, so we have a specific form that we distribute. If you aren’t a member, you can contact an Editor’s Circle member that also participated in the wedding for the form that allows you to submit the images on their behalf. Also, If there is a unique angle to the wedding or an interesting story re: the couple and/or how they met, by all means include it.

*Will editors feature a wedding that has been previously featured on a wedding blog? This is actually a topic that has come up a few times, and it really depends on the situation. If a short feature was published on the photographer’s own blog, that isn’t really a problem — we understand that photogs want their best work to be seen. When a wedding has been picked up by multiple blogs and broadcast across the internet, however, that’s a problem. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to produce and publish a single wedding feature, and we have to make difficult decisions about which events to feature because of the space limitations of a print publication. Devoting pages to an event that ends up making the blog rounds before the magazine hits newsstands is extremely frustrating and rather unfair to the other photographers whose work was in the running and had to be passed upon. Other publications may feel differently, but if you’re looking to have a particular event published in print, a good rule of thumb is to do a round of print submissions and then make the weddings that were not picked up available to the web.

*What images do you wish were included in submissions, but hardly ever appear?
Again (and I can’t repeat this enough), detail images. I would venture that approximately 80% of the submissions I receive require me to ask for additional detail shots. Keep in mind that Inside Weddings devotes multiple pages to each and every real wedding that we feature — it’s one of the aspects that sets us apart from other publications. There have to be enough amazing details for us to fill six-to-ten pages with photos. Oh, and I love photos of the father of the bride’s first glimpse of his daughter, and of children looking fascinated, bored, or full of joy.

*Do you prefer working with wedding publicists? For someone who doesn’t have a publicist, do you recommend hiring one?
Wedding publicists can be a great resource for photographers — they may have relationships in place within the industry that are invaluable, and taking the coordination aspects off of a photographer’s hands can be extremely helpful. We certainly don’t mind working with publicists that are courteous professionals, and welcome the relationships — just make sure that the person you choose to represent you comes highly recommended, has a good track record, and is someone whose personality and level of professionalism will help rather than hinder your goals.

*Should the same wedding be submitted to multiple magazines for publication? Why or why not? What’s happened when the same wedding wanted to get picked up by multiple magazines?
If you have your heart set on one particular magazine, it makes sense to submit to them first; however, increasing your chances of getting a wedding picked up by submitting it to multiple publications is completely fair. What you don’t want to do is to confirm with one magazine and then change your mind, or tell more than one publication that they can run the same wedding. If your first choice hasn’t gotten back to you and someone else wants it, you can check in for a status update before confirming with the second title.

*When submitting a wedding, who should the package be addressed to?
The Editor-in-Chief typically isn’t the best person for submissions. Some publications will have a “Weddings Editor” or an editor of another designation that is clearly linked to real weddings, but when in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to call and inquire.
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