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.