On Tuesday, Justin & I were SO lucky to be invited as two of the featured guest speakers at the Two Bright Lights workshop that is going around the country right now! We have been using TBL for years now as a way to streamline our submissions workflow to magazines & blogs and have everything in one place and we absolutely LOVE it!
So we were super honored when they invited us in to speak not only to the photographer's point of view on getting published more & what shots to go for, but also from the publications side of things now that we are also editors with our own two wedding blogs The Black Tie Bride & The Well Groomed Groom. Those two blogs have just exploded in ways we could have never imagined this year, and they are becoming a bigger & bigger part of who we are now! The other day I was introduced first as the Editor in Chief of The Black Tie Bride, and that was SO crazy since for so long I've been introduced as a wedding photographer first! It is definitely an exciting season for us & we are SO excited to see where it all goes from here! We're just super grateful for all of it and I think it's crazy the places that life takes you!
But anyway, back to the event! :) I think it was such a cool place to be in, to be able to see both sides of things at once. Both to know the shots that we, as editors, are looking for, but also to know as photographers all the challenges that go in to getting those shots. For example, some of the other editors who were speaking (there were some AMAZING other folks there that night including Bridget Clegg from The Knot, Kunbi Odubogun from Aisle Perfect, Maggie Lord from Rustic Wedding Chic, and Ragan Kensington from Two Bright Lights ) had mentioned that they love room shots before the guests get in there & pictures of the escort cards before any of them are taken! We totally agree! And we also understand, as photographers, how tough those shots can be to get if the room isn't finished until a minute before guests are let in or the escort card table is left visible to guests before the ceremony (what IS it with guests wanting to grab those cards up as soon as possible?!)
So it was really fun to both speak to what editors are looking for & also to give some practical tips from the photography side of things on how to get them! I've included 5 of my favorite things we went over below & we hope it helps both in approaching the day AND getting you featured more! And if you haven't been submitting to publications yet because you feel like you just don't have the time, definitely check out Two Bright Lights as a way to streamline everything!
1. Match your Messenger Rather than tying yourself in knots and pretending that you & your work are something that they aren't just to get published somewhere, instead figure out who you are and what you want your work to stand for and then submit to wedding publications that fall in line with THAT! Remember that one of the best advantages of getting published is that it will send brides your way, but if you are constantly trying to get published somewhere that doesn't really stand for what you want your work to stand for, then they aren't going to be sending you YOUR kind of brides. List three words you want your work to be known for & then seek out the wedding publications where you would use those same three words to describe them!
2. Think of your submission as an overall collective first. I can tell you from the editor's point of view that I am ALWAYS getting my first impression of a submission by looking at the overall gallery as a collective (kind of like a pinterest board) in thumbnail view. That means that even if you have a couple of killer individual images in there, it's still most likely not going to get accepted unless I feel like overall this is a really strong submission. So what makes a strong overall collective? a) make sure you tell an overarching story of the day and give me extra coverage of emotional/candid moments, details, and portraits of the couple. b) make sure that the images as a collective are processed in the same, clean way. We see it all the time where none of the black & whites match because a slightly different action was used on each one or where the color balance is all over the place. Consistency is key. And c) don't water down your submission with sub-par images just to show more. Curate your work & show your best stuff! More is not always better and in fact if, as I glance through that overall collective, I see too many images that are a no then it waters down that whole submission and makes it very unlikely that it will be accepted.
3. Remove Visual Noise. Bridget in particular did a GREAT job of talking about this and showing examples of how a clean background makes for a much stronger image! Remember that magazines in particular & sometimes blogs are looking for images with clean negative space so that they have the potential of adding copy (text) to them. Also we're just more attracted to clean, simple images because they aren't as confusing or distracting. So that means having the time to get in there and take out distracting elements like the salt & pepper shakers, butter, or waiter trays in the background. In general, try to shoot straight across the details so that the background falls off even more with shallow depth of field. And don't forget to shoot both collectives of the details (i.e. an entire table top), but also clean, individual shots of details such as an individual shot of the centerpiece without the table number, an individual shot of the table number, an individual shot of the menu. That's because the editor might love everything about the table except for one component & having those individual options will still allow them to be able to feature the whole wedding!
4. Make time to shoot & style the details. But as a photographer, I know what you're thinking! "I usually get five minutes to shoot the details, when am I going to have time to do all that?" The answer is Justin & I have learned to make time by educating our brides early and letting them know that we need about 45 minutes to shoot the details and that if getting published is a priority for them, this is a must! And then we also work to educate them about keeping guests out of the reception until cocktail hour is over. We even have a place on our "info sheet" where we ask "Will the reception area be closed off to guests during cocktail hour" and then in parentheses (so we can get great shots of all those details before they come in!) Just this one simple change has made a WORLD of difference in us getting time to shoot the details the way we want to! You can find our info sheet by clicking HERE & feel free to use it for your own couples too!
5. Avoid stiff or cheesy posing. Finally, as I was writing this talk I had sort of an "a-ha" moment about something that influences editors that they might not even be aware of and that is stiff, cheesy posing. For us at The Black Tie Bride, this is definitely something we filter out because we are photographers ourselves and one of our guiding words is "authentic." But I think across the board, editors are paying more attention to the posing than anyone would think because they've come to realize that the really good photographers out there (who are getting & submitting the really good weddings they want to be featuring) tend to have the much or authentic, organic posing going for them. There have been a number of weddings that we have turned down at the BTB because even though the wedding was a very elegant day at an iconic venue, the whole day felt cheesy because of how the posing was handled. It makes a HUGE difference! So when in doubt go for more authentic, natural looking poses and the best way to do that is to add MOVEMENT into what you're asking them to do.
As always, we hope that helped! Feel free to leave any questions (or just say HI) in the comments below!
Over the summer we had the absolute honor of working on this *dream* of a styled shoot on a sailboat in Maine with an incredible line up of creatives led by the amazing Sarah Goodwin of Daisies & Pearls! And today we are so excited to finally get to share it with you!!
But first, absolutely NONE of this would have been possible without the creative genius of these amazing people:
Guest Post on Lace and Loyalty: You Wash, I'll Dry
**Recently we had the HUGE honor of being asked by our friends at Lace and Loyalty (a beautiful wedding blog with a focus on building strong marriages) to write a guest post on our own marriage & what we've learned. Well today it went live and we would LOVE for you to head on over & read it. I've included a little excerpt below, but to see the full post be sure to click HERE.
"If you were to go to our website right now or sit down across from us in a cafe, with your hands holding a steaming cup of coffee, and set out to get to know us better… here is what I would tell you. There is a part on our about page, a mere couple of paragraphs at best, that essentially sums up who we are and who we always hope to be in our marriage. It says:
“He picks up our new Crate & Barrel Rococo stripe dish towel and snaps it lovingly in the general direction of my backside. My posterior. Derriere if you prefer.
You wash, and I’ll dry.
But ever since the “You wash, I’ll dry” line made it into first our about page, then our promo video, and then into the talks we’ve been giving at photo conferences all over the world, we have had more than our share of skeptics.
We’ve had people ask us, “I mean seriously, don’t you two have a dishwasher yet?” (Funny enough, we actually don’t. But it’s on our wish list when we do our new kitchen!).
And we’ve had people say, “I mean honestly, do you really expect us to believe that you guys actually LIKE doing dishes that much?”
To which I always say: you’re missing the point.
“You wash, I’ll dry” isn’t at all about suddenly loving all the hard and not so fun things in life simply because you’re married. It’s about how when you take on the tough things together (both the real and the metaphorical dirty dishes here), hard times somehow feel cut in half. And the joyful ones are doubled. It’s about how four hands can build a lot more together than two can alone. And it’s about being a helpmate to each other, even when the thing you’re facing isn’t so fun.
But most of all, “You wash, I’ll dry” is about always being on the same team."
To read the rest of the post & what we've learned about being on the same team, head on over HERE to read the rest of the article on the Lace and Loyalty blog!
One of the things that we have come to love the most about the teaching side of our business is that we have gotten the chance (and honestly the complete honor) to see other photographers really grow and reach new level after new level over the past few years. I think what's been one of the coolest things about all of this is that people are very rarely ever just doing one thing with us (which we know as teachers is one of the absolute highest compliments we could ever get & we're SO grateful for that). They might start with a lighting workshop, but then they are coming back for a mentoring session or to attend a Walk Through. And a lot of times, we're seeing people even come back and take a lighting intensive again or to do a second repeat of Walk Through. Because what happens is that they are taking away something different from it each time they do it, and both of those workshops just have SO much information in them that they can really grow with people over time as they are reaching different levels in their photography & businesses. So what that means, is that we might have first met some of these photographers four or five years ago when they were first getting started, but we have gotten the chance to keep track with them and watch their businesses absolutely explode over time. It has been amazing to watch! And honestly, it makes those six & twelve hour days at the workshops SO worth it!
So that got us thinking that it would be so awesome to have a type of session devoted just to those alums who are ready to take it (whatever "it" might be for them at the moment!) to the next level! A type of one hour power session they could do with us for a focused, intense brainstorming session on whatever their next BIG What's Next is for them, whether that be something with their business, brand, lighting, pricing, positioning, teaching, going full time, bringing on associates, starting a second business, or whatever crazy, amazing things they are dreaming up next! This would be a session that can be done over Skype, so they don't have to travel to CT again and can be very specific to whatever level they are ready to work on next! And with that, the "What's Next Sessions" were born!
**The What's Next Sessions will be $350 for a one-hour power mentoring session done over Skype (or can be in person if you're local!) and can be about whatever specific, unique to you & where you are topics that you want! These sessions are limited to our J&M alums, and you must have done a prior workshop or mentoring session with us to be eligible. We are going to start by opening up six sessions for the rest of the year & to be one of the first six click HERE to reserve your spot!!
And speaking of power alums, our two most recent mentoring sessions were ones we got to do with photographers we have been SO lucky to watch do amazing things the past few years! Kerri first came to a J&M Lighting Intensive and then the What's Next One Day Getaway we did last winter, and I can tell you this girl is ready to set the world on fire! I LOVED the things that were on her heart at her session, and I can already tell that so many people's lives are going to be impacted by the work she is doing! And Amy has taken two Lighting Intensives with us and is now traveling the world shooting for Richard Branson! We obviously don't take credit for that :) but I know that whatever he throws at her, this girl is definitely going to know how to light it! When we sat down with her, she told us about some HUGE big, hairy audacious dreams for where she wants this business of hers to go. And so we went to work, together, and came up with ten next steps to get her there. So much about chasing a big scary dream is about putting it into actionable next steps....and we LOVE helping people do just that!
If you have a big, scary dream that you are tired of waiting on, we would love to be the ones to give you that next BIG healthy shove into action!
Around this time seven years ago, I was getting my hair done when a bellman brought a grande Starbucks up to the suite where me & my (nine!) girls were getting ready. On the side, written in a familiar handwriting were the words "I love you a latte."
And right then, for the one millionth time, I was reminded of how I was- and continue to be- the luckiest girl on the planet.
See I started to type right there, "I was reminded of how I was making the best decision ever," but the truth is marrying Justin was never really a decision. At least no more than the earth decides to rotate around the sun or we decide to let gravity have a pull on us or two magnets decide to snap together with a force that makes it impossible to pull them apart.
The truth is, I was born to love this boy. As if it's coded in me, right down to my DNA.
Every part of me is happy just to be in his orbit. His is the kind of gravity that pulls you in and makes you feel rooted, but still lets you know what it is to fly. And the forces that snapped us together to begin with seven years ago, just get stronger over time. I'm pulled to him. Anchored to him, like a ship that's safe in the storm. And sometimes when we sit on the couch together and I press the side of my face against his, I get what the magnet was going through.
It's like you always want to know what it is to be just a little bit closer.
I know a love like ours is rare in this world. I get that. And I know that not everyone gets to have it. So that is why with every breath in me I am grateful. So, so, so grateful. And that makes me feel like the luckiest girl on the planet.
With all the gravity and orbiting and forces greater than us that entails.
Here's to the first seven of seventy.
Love you more,
**After seeing my friend Katelyn's anniversary recap for her & Michael (theirs was on 10-10), I thought it would be fun to go back through some of our favorite photos from our wedding day! Photo credit goes to our own wedding photographer David Jay, second shooter Becker, and our friend Amanda who also grabbed some fun shots!