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The year 2020 has brought about widespread changes in the industry (and life). Apparently, every aspect of business continues to have residual side effects, from how weddings are planned to how those weddings are publicized. While the general rules for featuring and placing real weddings in the media haven’t necessarily changed, the process has. Knowing what matters most to publications now, in print and online, will set up the submission for success.
If you haven’t revamped your strategy for publishing your wedding photography, the start of the year is a great time to research, evaluate, and rethink how you can repackage your wedding submission to pique the interest of editors.
[Read: Shooting for Exposure: Getting Portraits into Publications, on Billboards and Gallery Walls]
1. Make your match
Think of Instagram as the newest way to interact with your favorite media. Visit the Instagram profile of the desired business and read how the business bio describes its brand with very limited space. From this point on, when it comes to figuring out how to post your wedding photography, make sure your submission matches their mission. Read stream captions to understand the voice and recurring takeaways. The more you can replicate the experience they provide to their audience, the closer you will be to getting a feature.
2. Submissions: Composition and coloring matter
As you scroll through the POS channels, take a close look at the consistency of the photographic experience. There are clues in the couple’s body language and the way details are composed. Color balance and light quality are important elements in creating a cohesive experience. Identify your key shots that match their style and reproduce the same formula to create photo editing in line with the visuals of the brand.
3. Find the one line hook
Don’t underestimate the power of a headline pitch. This is the gateway to entering the editor’s mind. With a market oversaturated with beautiful wedding submissions, it’s up to publishers to find the new stuff. So start by hooking their curiosity and describing the event in an unexpected way. Again, think about the words the publisher used to describe their brand and how you might name your event based on their style. If you need inspiration, take a look at recent headlines from the editor’s real-life wedding features. This will give you more insight into their voice, what interests them; and how to tailor your pitch to their audience.
4. The print is almost dead (So how do you post your wedding photography?)
It’s sad but true; if your dream is a print feature, be honest with yourself, there are fewer publications than two years ago, which means fewer opportunities. Do your homework to understand their editorial calendar, if there is a specific theme to support their issue, and if they feature work outside of their advertising partners. Keep in mind that they usually work three to six months before the magazine hits newsstands, so it’s not out of the question to submit fall weddings in the spring.
5. Send your wedding submission as if it were going to be printed
Even though most of the functionality will be digital, that doesn’t mean there’s a reason for it. laissez-faire. Most editorial services are now operating at a smaller capacity than before the pandemic, and sending concise information is of the utmost importance. Gather all relevant information from the couple about their dating, proposal, wedding planning and general highlights. Don’t underestimate the importance of collecting a comprehensive list of wedding professionals and fashion team, as well as providing every website and Instagram handle. Multiple replies and follow-up emails that add or correct information from your first point of contact can be confusing to follow, so be very diligent about getting it right from the start. Also, provide the publisher with “medium” resolution files. If your files are only 600 pixels wide, that’s one more high-res back-and-forth chain that can be avoided.
6. When it comes to wedding coverage, Status sales
Have you noticed how magazines across all industries are featuring more and more celebrities on the cover or how influencers continue to take center stage? There’s a reason for that: it works well! Any experience on the couple (or notable professionals), such as great social presence, or how the couple can impact their own community earns bonus points. Here too, diversity matters. While you may not control the team in place, being inclusive where you can will count when it comes to the submission process.
[Read: How Portrait Photographers are Pivoting in the Time of COVID-19]
seven. COVID-19 planning is now part of wedding planning
If you’re missing the story of how the couple had to rebook, carefully plan the catering, or how they creatively resolved a complication, then you’re missing extremely useful advice for a wide audience. Even as editors lead the way in explaining what’s happening in the events industry, it starts with couples and wedding professionals sharing how they overcame difficult scenarios. It’s great when the evidence is in the photographs, but even the text information provides editors with important details to share.
8. Party Prediction!
In the past, when photographers wanted to publish their wedding photos, magazines and blogs focused mainly on the wedding day and less on the events before and after the wedding. But as multiple events multiply, so do theme nights. If you photograph them, include these highlights in your submission materials. However, if the parties weren’t so photogenic, forgo the detail photos and just include a handful of photos showing what the couple were wearing and the scene they put on. This provides a fashion inspiration service, as well as a place idea at a minimum. If you’ve guaranteed a placement for the wedding and the publisher doesn’t want to include the other events, another publisher may be interested in featuring them. However, be very transparent to all publishers involved in feature plans, including feature robustness and expected release dates.
Rebecca Crumley is a media consultant for The Bridal Bar. Previously, she was Senior Director, Real Weddings, for The Knot Worldwide, where she worked for 16 years. The photo editor turned creative consultant and media strategist says, “Photography fuels the pitches I send and host; the articles I write; and drives the reader’s curiosity to stay engaged.