I often get asked by other photographers about how to go about getting published in magazines or on wedding blogs. I am SO not the expert at getting published - I still have a goal on my 101 in 1001 list regarding developing a system for publication submissions - but I thought I could share a few things I have discovered along my journey.

Getting real weddings published in magazines or on wedding blogs can be great exposure. It can build buzz for your brand, get your work in front of potential clients and industry professionals and can be a low-cost form of marketing. Initially, many of my opportunities for getting my work published dropped in my lap but since discovering how helpful it can be, I've made an effort to learn more about publication submissions and make them a regular part of my workflow. If you're interested in seeing some of the places my work has been published, click here to go to the press section of the website.

First, there are such a multitude of publications out there, so it is important to do your research. Go to your local book store and buy some wedding magazines. Maybe start at the local level by researching the publications in your area. Look at the real weddings in their pages and make notes of what they look for. What types of weddings do they publish? What kind of photos? I've found that most publications want details, scene setting shots and a few portraits of the bride and groom. So don't send them getting ready shots, family portraits or photos of guests. Being very targeted with the weddings that you send to publications based on the style of the wedding and the type of photos you send can really help you stand out. If you send in a wedding that does not match the publication, not only will it not be picked up and featured, the editors will think of you as someone who doesn't do their research.

Once you've decided which publications you are interested in pursuing, look online to find out what their submission requirements and deadlines are. If you can't find them listed, email the editor or photo editor. When you email the editor, also ask if they are open to featuring weddings from non-advertisers. Each publication has a different policy on this issue. It's good to find out if you have to advertise with them in order to be featured so that you don't waste your time. Also ask if they require exclusive rights when publishing a wedding. Many publications require that a wedding they feature not be featured in any other magazine or blog. Some are non-exclusive though, meaning they are ok with you also submitting the wedding elsewhere. In order to stay organized with all the info you collect, try putting together a spread sheet detailing all of the above for various publications. We're in the process of putting together a publication spreadsheet for Melissa Jill Photography right now. It's a lot of work but will help tremendously if you want to make a habit of submitting to publications over time.

Use Two Bright Lights.
Two Bright Lights is an amazing tool that links photographers, vendors and editors and streamlines the publication submission process. If you haven't heard of them or looked at their website, my #1 tip for you is to do so. TBL allows photographers to submit real weddings to over 100 top magazines and blogs throughout the country electronically and provides editors an easy way to filter through the thousands of submissions and respond. That's right! If you submit through TBL you WILL hear back from the editor even if the wedding is not a good fit for their publication. Since many top publications are exclusive this solves so many issues because then we as photographers are freed up to submit to another publication if the editor responds that the wedding is not a good fit. It's a beautiful thing. Click here to see which magazines and blogs are accessible through TBL.

Two Bright Lights is a great place to start if you want to begin to submit real weddings. It guides you through the steps so that all the information that editors need is supplied. But if you want to submit to a publication that is not one of TBL's editorial partners, the key is to make it as easy as possible for them to feature your work. Put everything at their fingertips: a list of vendors that worked on the event, contact information for the bride & groom, the name of the dress designer, a CD of high res. images, printed thumbnails they can scan without having to open the disc, even a write-up that tells the story of the wedding! Present all of this in a clean, professional and clearly branded way.

I had a designer help me develop a custom publication submission kit that I use when submitting to publications that are not on Two Bright Lights. It includes a cover letter with all of the pertinent info related to the wedding, a CD of high res images (between 50-100) and pages of thumbnails that correspond to the images on the disc.
If you really want to stand out, send your publication kit via FedEx - it gives weight to your submission and it will end up on the editor's desk rather than in the pile in the mail room.

Beyond these practical tips I would say, be consistent and perseverant. Don't give up if your first submission isn't accepted. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. And like anything that you want to do consistently over time, make publication submissions a regular part of your workflow. Put anything you want to do for every wedding on your wedding workflow checklist. If you know you have a great wedding coming up with amazing details, talk to the bride and wedding planner about where they would like to see it published and come up with a plan together.

What to do next?

1. Write down any concrete goals you want to implement from this post

2. Check out Two Bright Lights and if you sign up make sure to tell them Melissa Jill sent you!

3. If you found this post helpful, share it with your friends by clicking on the retweet or facebook buttons below. And click here to learn about other resources I offer photographers!
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