As a wedding photographer in the 21st century, you have a much bigger audience than others in your profession did decades ago, taking portraits and group shots for private wedding albums.
Today, successfully marketing yourself as a wedding photographer usually means including your work in online portfolios on your website and social feeds. That’s a great business plan, but you’re probably reading this because you’re looking for more.
Most wedding photographers have an end goal in mind, and here are two questions we get asked the most:
- First, how to submit wedding photos for publication?
- Where to submit wedding photos for publication?
The honest answer to both questions is that publishing your wedding photographs in a national print or digital outlet is a process with no guarantees of success.
But the great news is, it’s not impossible! So we’re breaking it down for you here, including answers to your specific questions below.
How Do I Submit My Wedding Photos?
Just a quick note: we’re assuming you own the copyright for your photos or you’ve obtained a signed release from your clients in states that specifically outline this legal requirement.
In every situation, it’s also professional and thoughtful to include your couple’s full names in photo submissions.
All good? Great!
Seven Considerations Before You Submit Wedding Photos for Publication
It’s not just a matter of following the rules to submit (that’s more time-consuming than anything, and we’ll get into specific examples, so you get a clear idea).
When you look online or at print pubs, you’ll see there’s no end to the possibilities for growing your wedding photography business through publication. But be aware of these critical considerations because they often ensure success rather than disappointment.
1. Know Your Brand
Do you specialize in destination wedding photography in Mexico or elopements in the Mojave desert? When you’re fully aware of your niche, it’s easier to choose pubs that cater to an audience that would identify with your work and be inclined to book your services!
Here’s an example:
Desert Wedding Magazine was formerly called Vegas Wedding Magazine.
According to their “About” page, the name change allows this pub to focus on “couples who have tied the knot in Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, Dubai, or any location throughout the world that has a desertscape.”
It gives non-Vegas-based wedding photographers more play to submit their work to the magazine and check it out because their current edition mentions the opportunity to score your work on a future cover!
2. Be Current or Ahead of the Curve
The wedding industry was heavily affected by the pandemic and will continue to be, and it forced many couples (and their wedding photographers) to adapt to new and challenging times.
Publications also adapted, and a new industry trend emerged highlighting “safety protocols.” This online piece on pandemic weddings showcased the work of 24 photographers who’d stayed current and risen to the challenge, and the exposure was international.
Staying current (or ahead of the curve) on trends is also a great way to get your wedding photography more exposure.
For instance, no one can deny that drone photography is here to stay, and adding this technology is another piece in your portfolio to highlight when submitting wedding photos to publications.
3. Be All In
Another “trend” that we wholeheartedly support is the human issue of diversity and inclusion.
Media outlets are supporting this issue and publically committing to make a change, so highlight your inclusivity (love is love, right?) when you submit wedding photos to publications.
4. Rules Are There for a Reason
Any publication worth your time and your submission of wedding photographs should offer a specific page (preferably online and current to the year/month) of submission guidelines to prepare your work for consideration.
Whether the art director’s guidelines are long or short, it’s crucial to follow these submission guidelines like rules and don’t disregard them.
Yes, it’s painstaking, but pubs can get dozens, hundreds, or thousands of submissions. So if an art director wants low-res JPEGs and you send in hi-res TIFFs, all the work you spent on the process is wasted because they’re guaranteed to reject your submission instantly.
5. Prepare to Be Exclusive
It can be good time management to prepare multiple submissions to send to a chosen list of publications (ensuring you’ve met the individual submission guidelines of each pub).
But be mindful that many pubs, particularly more prominent outlets, will claim first rights to your work.
It’s a good problem when multiple pubs want your photos! But it’s unprofessional to back out of a contract with a smaller pub if a more prominent outlet contacts you because you submitted to both.
A good solution is to carefully research your list and curate your best work of the moment in a top choice, second choice, third, and so on. Then, submit your best work to top publications and the rest to smaller pubs.
6. Honor Your Fellow Vendors
It’s a best practice to tag other vendor details (website and username on socials) in your photos. If the wedding day gets too hectic, ask the bridal couple beforehand for a contact list of all vendors.
You’ll impress editors more when the information is provided upfront because it’s less work for them!
Then, when your photo submissions get accepted, advise your fellow vendors that they’ll also be gaining exposure. It’s positive promotion for you both, and they won’t forget it!
7. Claim Your Bragging Rights
Submitting your wedding photos and getting them published is no small feat!
Do yourself and the publication a favor by tagging any photo feature on your website and socials. Cross-promotion is a big deal, particularly in digital marketing, and you’ll get more work opportunities from your efforts regardless of the publication size.
Where To Submit Wedding Photos for Publication?
Maybe you know for sure that you want to submit to Martha Stewart Weddings or Bridal Guide. We’ll get into those tips next, but check this out first.
Submitting your work anywhere requires research skills, but how deep you have to dive into finding outlets to submit to can be made easier with a few simple tips:
- Look to regional or statewide outlets first. Trying to get published in Martha Stewart when you’re just starting can be de-motivating. We’re not saying you shouldn’t shoot for the moon, but setting your sights slightly lower can prove equally fruitful for marketing your business.
- Check social media groups. These days, advertising your business “word of mouth” often means requesting an invitation to groups on social that cater to the media wedding industry.
- Research for the parent company. You may be targeting a local outlet owned by a more significant national media company. There are opportunities for your work to gain even more exposure if you find that parent company and their specific guidelines to submit.
Research Tips for Finding Submission Guidelines
We mentioned destination wedding photography in Mexico, and we’ll use that type of shoot as an example in researching outlets and finding submission guidelines. Here’s the process:
- We googled “destination wedding magazines.”
- Results included Destination I Do, and we chose that website.
- If you can’t locate the submission guidelines, google “Destination I Do + submission guidelines,” which should deliver the following result: Destination Weddings – Submission Guidelines.
You can discover most, if not all, local, statewide, and national (or international) media outlets with a quick online search. It’s best to be as specific as possible with your search terms to deliver the most valuable results.
Have fun with it!
How Do I Get Published at Martha Stewart Wedding?
The great news about getting published at a renowned media outlet like Martha Stewart is that a general question works well as a search term.
We used the search term “how do I get published at Martha Stewart Wedding + 2022” (it’s always a good idea to include the year to ensure you get current results), and this article was the featured snippet.
Although it’s dated October 2019, it appears to be the most current information on how to submit to Martha Stewart Weddings, whether you’re a photographer or a bridal couple, although it doesn’t provide all the necessary details.
It’s always a good idea to be armed with as much info as possible when you want to submit to a prominent media outlet, so here’s a link to the 2021 Media Kit for the Martha Stewart brand to check out.
How Do I Submit to Bridal Guide Magazine?
Bridal Guide is another outlet on the radar for wedding photographers and bridal couples alike. We used the question above as a search term and added the year to be current, and we got this result.
There are a few things on their submission page that set Bridal Guide apart:
- They accept your wedding photo submissions for two areas of their magazine.
- You can submit photos for their Real Weddings gallery.
- You can also submit to their Photo of the Day feature, which spotlights a different (and preferably inspirational) wedding image on the site’s home page every day.
- Bridal Guide is interested in “all aspects” of a wedding day, from candid moments to portraits and detailed shots.
Bridal Guide also specifies two options on how to submit wedding photos. It’s a good idea to investigate this further (particularly the option to submit through Two Bright Lights) and choose the option that works best for you:
- You can submit to Bridal Guide through Two Bright Lights.
- You can email your submission to [email protected] in a zip file or through a file transfer site (Dropbox, Hightail, or SendSpace are examples).
Additional Details on Two Bright Lights
Wedding Pioneer is not affiliated with Two Bright Lights, but it appears to be a site worth investigating by photographers in any industry.
Under their “About Us” section, Two Bright Lights describes itself as an “all-in-one tool” to simplify the process of submitting your photos to editors at “hundreds of publications.” In addition, they aim to connect photographers and creatives with publications and help them gain more exposure.
You may find that you can handle the submission process independently, but it may be worth your time to check out!