How to Get Your Photography Published in a Magazine with Vanessa Joy
Many photographers like the idea of getting published in a magazine. Even having your beautiful photos featured in online publications can be exciting and daunting, especially since there are so many weddings every year with so many beautiful photographs that could be featured. Sometimes the hardest part is just organizing your photographs and doing the work required to submit to magazines.
Luckily, there are services like Two Bright Lights that make it easier to submit. However, that rejection letter isn’t the nicest thing in the world to receive, no matter how nicely “no, we don’t want your photos” is worded. Thankfully, there are ways to improve your chances of getting your photography published, and with persistence and effort, you’d be surprised how far you can go in the world of magazine wedding photography!
Print Is Not Dying, It’s Changing
Magazine publishers will have you know that print as a medium is changing: there are more localized and niche magazines than ever. If you are paying close attention to your market, you’ll see that while the industry has changed to accommodate the growth of online journalism and other publications, it isn’t gone! Don’t give up on the possibility of being published, but also don’t discount highly-popular blogs, online magazines, and other publications. They vary in their reach and shelf life, but there’s no reason to ignore the power of print.
Staff Photographers’ Loss Is Your Gain
As major magazines shift to using more freelancers and submitted work, they aren’t keeping staff photographers as often. This isn’t great, obviously, for those who want to work full-time for a magazine and for photographers as a whole. We’ve had to adapt to the ever-changing industry to keep food on our tables. However, part of adapting is thinking outside the box and taking action on the fact that many editors and art directors for magazines will see you as an opportunity to get beautiful photographs without having to arrange for their staff photographer to be on location. When you make yourself a solution to someone’s problem at the magazine, you are much more likely to get published.
Your Initiative and Storytelling Can Give You an Edge
One thing is that you won’t be as likely to be published simply by sending a pile of photographs to a magazine. If they have to spend a lot of time piecing together what to say with these photos, they may move on, no matter how stunning the photos are. If, however, you can provide copy that explains the love story depicted, the significance of the details you shot, and can make it more like an entire story and less like disconnected wedding photos, you are—again—solving a problem for the magazine editor. The more polished and complete your “story” is, the easier it is for them to quickly see it as a part of what they’re doing in their magazine.
Build a Package By Noting What Makes This Wedding Unique
One major way to stand out from the other wedding photographers hoping to be published is to keep track, as you shoot the wedding, of things that make it unique. There are a lot of similar elements in some weddings, but no wedding is exactly like another one. What you choose to emphasize will impact whether the photos you send stand out from the crowd or blend into the background. Create a well-written description of the unique story and details—that’s an extra plus.
Find a Hook: A Season, Holiday, Location, or Other Feature
Another way to “do the work” for the publication is to send photographs that are perfect for a particular hook: a wedding with a holiday theme or a great seasonally-driven wedding, all in time for their deadlines and in order to slot perfectly into their themed issues. How to know these things? Well, read the magazines! Often, they have submission guidelines that, by following, you stand out from seasonally-off submissions. It can even be a theme you suggest, like pups at weddings, or exotic animals at weddings.
Get to Know the Vendors and Be Known for Professionalism
This may seem tangential to getting your photos published, but follow us here. Sometimes, what the magazine wants is the subject of the photo, and they don’t care as much who takes it. If they ask, say, an excellent floral designer to do a photo shoot when they’re featuring her flowers in the magazine, you want to be the photographer she names! This means that at every job you are on your best behavior, not just for the bride, but for everyone who is seeing you and getting to know you. Get those business cards out and get to know your fellow vendors; it’s usually a smaller world than we think, and people talk.
Ask for Credit but Share Those Photos
Yes, it can be tempting to keep one’s photos under lock and key and charge for their use. There is a time and place for that, yes. However, when you are asked for your photos, weigh the benefits of the exposure against any worries you have having them distributed without attribution. Exposure won’t pay your bills, but it can build relationships, expand your network, and be a direct correlation to you booking new gigs.
There are plenty of ways to, say, share photos with a venue while nicely asking that they make you a preferred vendor or recommend you to future brides. Once in a while, you’ll find a photo out on the internet that wasn’t attributed (GAHHHH!!), but the ones that do have the credit given will be advertising for you, giving you exposure that can lead to publication or future jobs! Editors are out on the internet too, noticing when your Instagram or portfolio is full of great work. They can and likely will find you through your network, but only if your network is featuring your photos.
Cut the Embedded Watermark Out When Working to Get Published
One cut-and-dry tip: don’t leave an embedded watermark in photos you are submitting to get published. Editors, like everyone, are busy and will not want to email back and forth with you to get the right version without the watermark. When you are ready to submit these photos, take a step of faith and send the unwatermarked versions.
We’ll Say It Again: Cultivate Close Relationships with Sought-After Vendors
It’s similar advice, but if you take one thing from this topic, make sure it’s that your good relationships and good name matter a lot in this business. You don’t know whether a caterer has a cousin who runs the biggest bridal magazine in your area, but you do know that you have to work with this caterer today. How you react when they ask for a few photos of the food from tonight may have an impact down the road.
You can take it a step further, though. If you know from the bridal magazines that certain vendors just always seem to have their work featured, get to know them on purpose! See how you can collaborate, maybe by doing a photo shoot for them, and talk to them about how they get their work into magazines. They may be thrilled to introduce you to someone, and your path just got a lot quicker to that publication.