Before I sound too confident in myself, let’s start with a quick story. Last September, I attended my very first styled shoot. I showed up 10 minutes late, but fortunately I arrived when the planner was still going over the rules, so I didn’t miss any shooting time. At the end of her spiel, she excitedly encouraged us to all submit our photos for publications. As grins and chatter broke out around me at the news, I felt a bit crestfallen. Someone like me had to worry about being published, too? I had just launched my photography business a few months prior, and I was neck-deep trying to learn everything, and now I had to think about getting my work out there on an even bigger scale. I knew top photographers published their work, but apparently this was another task for me to juggle as well.
Fast forward to now, when I just celebrated my first official publication. My husband, mom, and a few close friends cheered me on when I first received the news, but now I get to share it with everyone! And, I have two more publications set to release this summer! They aren’t the coveted The Knot or Style Me Pretty, but you can bet that’s where I have my sights set now. So how did I do it? It may have been partly luck, but for the factors that I can control, I’m about to let you in on everything I did.
1. Curate Your Work to Show the Best of the Best First
This is something that I learned from who I consider my photography mom and dad, Amy and Jordan Demos. They teach that whenever we display our work, whether it be on social media, or in an online gallery for clients, we need to put the best of the best first (and in the case of social media, only show the best of the best). Why? Because then it gets clients excited about your work. It shows them your value. And, if you’re already used to doing this, you’re actually super prepared to submit your work to an online publication!
When I deliver client galleries, they get a “Christine’s Favorites” folder that pops up right away. They see what I decided is the best first, and they quickly fall in love with their work. I also deliver a full gallery that includes horizontals, verticals, and all the little things they can hope for–but we all know that while many images are deliverable, some are more artistic and strong than others.
When I went to submit pictures, I had already done the hard work of curating–I just simply uploaded my “Christine’s Favorites” images to Two Bright Lights. This brings me to my second point:
2. Subscribe to a Platform that Connects You to Publishers, Like Two Bright Lights
There are others out there, but Two Bright Lights is the company that was recommended to me, and I think they’re user friendly! You can try them out for free, but after a few submissions, you will need to pay to play. For me, the cost was worth it–for less than $200 a year, if I got published, other companies would be helping me with my marketing!
If you’re already savvy enough to set up an online client gallery, Two Bright Lights will be an absolute breeze for you! You upload your pictures, you can add a description (I just copy and paste my blog write ups), and then you’re ready to select publishers! You can choose to apply to an exclusive publisher (can only apply to one publisher at a time) or non-exclusive publisher (you can apply to several publishers at once). Two Bright Lights alerts you to who they think will be the best match, but you can choose anyone you want! Just be sure to read the descriptions to make sure your content is what the editor generally accepts, otherwise you’re wasting your time and theirs!
3. Press Submit
Two Bright Lights lets you submit to 5 publications at a whack for non-exclusive work, but you can go back and submit more immediately. When I first tried, I only submitted 5, and I got accepted by Tacari Weddings within 2 weeks! That’s where the luck factors in.
Once I got a taste, I went back and submitted LOTS of my work from the past year, using this process; that’s how I was able to secure 2 more publications. I did get submission happy, and I sent albums out to many publishers at the same time. Some publishers turned down my work and cited this as the reason. So, you may want to refrain from submitting to more than 5 at a time, but your strategy is really up to you! Two Bright Lights automatically sends you emails whenever there’s a status change with a submission, so you would easily be able to go and resubmit an album to new publications without blasting it out to everyone at the same time.
I hope you come away from this realizing that you aren’t far off from your own publications! This process isn’t as daunting as I first believed. I can’t wait to achieve my next publishing goals, and I hope your work is right there next to mine.