There was a time in my career, early on, when I thought I would feel “accomplished” and totally satisfied in my business if I had a wedding published in print. It was one of my BIGGEST goals and I put so much emphasis on it that when it happened, it was awesome but it didn’t make me feel like I had “arrived” as a photographer. That’s probably because getting published is not the goal of my business. My purpose as a photographer is to love and serve my clients with a great experience and deliver beautiful images that they will treasure for a lifetime. If their wedding just happens to be featured, that’s just another part of the experience that I can share with them!!
I’ve had coaching photographers sit in my office and say that if they could just be published, they would have the confidence to raise prices and move their businesses forward. This is VERY backwards. Getting published should be a RESULT of you moving your business forward…. don’t depend on that “title” to give you credibility. That’s just not fair to you or your hardwork! You could shoot the most AMAZING wedding and if that couple didn’t have anything unique or trending at their wedding, magazines are not going to give it a second glance. When I first started submitting, I didn’t understand the magazine world… at ALL. I was submitting GORGEOUS weddings and was getting ZERO responses. It didn’t register with me that all publications are looking for something NEW and inspiring! They have to give their readers something exciting and fresh to look at and so even though my weddings were beautiful, I wasn’t capturing them in a way that showcased their individuality.
Understanding what publications are looking for is one of the hardest parts of getting published. Well known wedding blogs are looking for the same thing. They want to feature weddings that will be pinned and shared like crazy!! I have learned over time that some of my most beautiful work is never really pinned or shared… it’s the UNIQUE work that is being shared and pinned. It could be a new pose I try or a bride with a beautiful hairstyle or an awesome favor idea…. those images will be pinned over just a pretty portrait any day!
So I could spend all day talking about this topic but for starters, here are some things to focus on if you’re just entering the “publishing” world:
1. Don’t let “Getting Published” become your main goal in your business. It’s great to have goals but if this is your ONLY goal and you put so much pressure on yourself to make it happen, you’ll slowly become obsessed with it and you won’t be shooting for your clients, you’ll be shooting for a publication.
2. Research! Look at what is being published now and study what editors are looking for! This will help you understand why certain things you’re submitting may not be receiving any attention. Pay attention to trends and details. The more you know, the less time you’ll waste. Different magazines and publications are looking for different things!
3. Decide how much you’re willing to give up to be published. For Martha Stewart Weddings to consider your work for a feature, they may hold on to it for up to two years and then never use it. Within that two years, you can’t show any of the images on Facebook or your blog AND your bride can’t either! It’s REALLLLLY hard to be featured in such a prestigious magazine like that but if you had a wedding that fit the bill, you would have to be willing (and your bride would have to be willing) to keep it under wraps for a long time. For me, that really doesn’t fit my business model. My blog posts drive my business and so if I started with holding every wedding that would be a possible feature, I would lose business. However, I have friends that market themselves THROUGH publishing and online features and their blog isn’t the heartbeat of their business so it works for them!
4. Be patient! This takes time and work and a little bit of luck. Make sure you realize that there are THOUSANDS of photographers with AMAZING work that will never be in print. You’re not alone and you are not LESS of a photographer because your work isn’t in Barnes and Noble.
This is just Part 1 in this “Getting Published” series… Part II will include tips for submitting AND a really embarrassing story…. so get excited. :)