7 Dos and Don’ts of Getting Published

January 6th, 2016

Meet the Author

Alison Bernstein
Alison Bernstein is a new media executive with more than 20 years of experience in lifestyle, pregnancy, parenting, and weddings. She’s held positions in product, marketing, business development and content development. Alison is currently the Vice President of Photography Marketplace for XO Group, envisioning the role photography plays in a content-driven marketplace and building products that connect photos with the professional services featured in them. She is also the General Manager of Two Bright Lights, a network that connects photographers, event planners and vendors with over 500 publishers across the country and around the world. Prior to this role, Alison was the Vice President of Product for XO Group, leading business and product development for the $10 million fashion and jewelry vertical, charged with growing the business and continually developing cutting-edge products for the bridal consumer. Alison has overseen syndicated partnerships with MSN, Google, AOL, and Yahoo, and has launched award-winning integrated advertising programs for sponsors including Estee Lauder, Pantene, and Four Seasons. Alison has led traffic-driving efforts through content distribution that has translated to millions of new visitors discovering The Knot, The Nest, and The Bump over the past sixteen years. Additionally, she oversees brand development projects and opportunities in entertainment for XO Group. Alison has appeared numerous times on TODAY, CBS This Morning, MSNBC and local NBC, FOX and PIX news segments across the country. Alison graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Anthropology. She resides in Westchester with her husband, three kids, and various household animals.

The 7 Dos and Don'ts of Getting Published | via the Rising Tide Society

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1. DO tag your fellow vendors

There are lots of excellent reasons to tag ALL the other stellar event professionals in your submission. Those vendors will promote you in return and you’ll grow your professional network. When the submission gets published, they’ll be automatically alerted and will share on their social networks.

But the #1 reason to tag the fellow pros that you worked with is that publishers are looking for that information! 70% of editors say that it is critical to include vendors in your submissions, and 89% say it is very important.  Nearly half of the editors we surveyed want to see 8 or more vendors tagged in an album. So grab those business cards, and get tagging!

2. DON’T over-edit your event photos

One consistent piece of advice publishers on Two Bright Lights share with new submitters is to keep the editing of photos to a minimum. Most publishers are looking for images with natural light and true colors. So keep your photo processing uniform, and be conservative with your filters. Check out previous work that has been published to that blog, magazine or website to see the style of photographs they prefer, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Dos and Don'ts of Getting Published | via RTS (Photo by Krista A. Jones)

Photo by Krista A. Jones Photography

3. DO include plenty of details

Editors want to publish the best looking photos, for sure. But they need a great story to tell too! And they don’t want to have to do all the heavy lifting. Include as much of the backstory and as many of the details as you know. If you aren’t the event or wedding planner – call them! They usually know lots of great little nuggets since they spend so much time with the party planner or the bride and groom.

Worried that you aren’t a great writer? Don’t be! The publisher will finesse the story, they just need the raw ingredients. One editor even told us they’d be thrilled with a bulleted list of details if the submitter is not a strong writer. And often it’s the details – along with great pics – that cinch the submission.

Dos and Don'ts of Getting Published | via RTS (Photo by Krista A. Jones)

Photo by Krista A. Jones Photography

4. DO brag on social media

Would you like a good excuse to crow about that fabulous wedding you just got published on ALL of your social media channels? 86% of editors are more likely to publish a photographer again if they used social media channels to promote a previous feature. Your fellow vendors will love it too, and in turn will share your post to their social media followers. Don’t forget to tag the bride and groom or party planner so their friends and family can see the publication too! We call this the “network effect” of getting published – and it starts with you!

At Two Bright Lights, we make this super easy. Once a feature gets published, you’ll receive a notification with the options for social sharing right at your fingertips. So get sharing!

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5. DON’T skimp on photos

Two Bright Lights allows you to submit up to 150 images per event in an album – don’t skimp on pics! Take advantage of this generous limit to really show off the event. The images need to tell a story, so keep them in the order of how they took place…with one exception: Be sure to use a really knockout cover image, because first impressions really do count!

We asked publishers what kind of pics they were looking for and they said: More detail shots! Think from the perspective of future brides, for instance. They use real weddings as inspiration for their own event, so the photos you choose should give them lots of new ideas.  

One detail oriented publisher shared their perfect photo formula with Two Bright Lights: 5 invitation shots, 5 shots of the venue/signage, 15 getting ready shots, 5 ring shots, 10 detail shots of the clothing/accessories, 10 first look shots, 20 couple portraits, 5 wedding party photos, 10 ceremony decor and detail shots, 15 ceremony shots, 35 reception decor and detail shots, 5 cake and dessert shots, 10 reception shots/party shots, 0 family portrait shots (unless they are really neat or important to the story of the day), 0 Food shots (unless they are really cool), 0 shots of guests (unless they are cute old people, dogs or kids). Great feedback!

Dos and Don'ts of Getting Published | via RTS (Photo by Krista A. Jones)

Photo by Krista A. Jones Photography

6. DO choose publications carefully

There’s an old adage that says “There’s a lid for every pot.” The same is true for submissions! Find the right publication for your album and avoid mass-submissions. Publishers can see where else an album has been submitted and they want to know that you think this album is perfect for them, so choose five to ten publications at most. Be sure to read the submission guidelines for each publication that you are targeting. Don’t waste your time – or theirs – by submitting to publications that are clearly not a fit.

7. DON’T forget a personal note

66% of publishers surveyed were more likely to open, review, or accept a submission that included a personalized note. It only takes a few moments, but it can be the thing that gets your submission noticed. Include a few teasers about the event, then make it specific to the publication. Why is this the perfect album for that blog, website or magazine? Make your case in your personal note.



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We’ve been using Two Bright Lights for years and LOVE them!

Great insight… particularly the “formula” that one editor shared at the end!

I just began using Two Bright Lights about 6 weeks ago. My style isn’t really “bright, airy, filn” like so many editorials we see so popular right now. But after doing some research and picking out certain publications to target, I’ve already had two weddings selected for publication and one wedding has been published twice! Two Bright Lights makes it crazy easy.

And the best editors will send a note back with some constructive feedback… such as, “details not a good fit”… or in one case, an editor mentioned that a specific wedding wasn’t a good fit, but they LOVED my work, and asked me to submit again!

Thanks, TBL for taking the intimidation and overwhelming “where do I begin?” factors away and making it so easy to share my photos.

What a great post! Thanks for sharing all this awesome info!

I love how you focus on creating a relationship by finding out what the publication has done before, and including a personalized note. Thanks Alison!

I’m not a photographer, but as a decorator, I’ll use some of these tips for submitting my work to publications! Thanks for the info!

I love this. As someone new to submitting publications, I made the grave error of accidentally submitting before I could write a personal note and found out quickly that that was not going to work. Loved reading this and took notes too!

I’ve been using Two Bright Lights for about a year now and love it! Need to use it more tho. Great post, thank you for the info… I especially love the image “formula” share by one of the publishers!

So so helpful! One question, If you’re submitting something for publication, can you post some of the images from the shoot to instagram and facebook beforehand? What about your blog? What about vendors, can they use the photos before you submit them or while you’re waiting for a response? Or are you supposed to submit the images, wait, and then post them and share with vendors once the publication is out?

    Great question! Most non-exclusive publications have no problem with you posting a few images on your social media platforms or personal blog. If you choose this route, we would suggest reserving a few of the show-stoppers for the publication to share.

    However, your strategy should change if your target is an exclusive publication (both print and online). Once you’ve submitted an album to an exclusive publication, you are agreeing that the images have not and will not be featured elsewhere until the exclusivity period has ended (which can range from 1-6 months depending on the publication). Hope this helps!

This was such a great post! Getting published is one of my 2016 goals! Thank you for the great insight!

Hello,I think I am in the free submissions ,because I can only submit 100 photos..So am I needing to sign up for something else..Ha, I guess I was a little confused. I love this blog by the way..tons of great info!!Also By submissions can only go to one magazine.Please Advise

We operate a ‘farm’ wedding venue. We have been published in a number of online publications – always through Two Bright Lights.

Great article! I love using two bright lights and this will totally help me with my submissions! I’ve had a few accepted, but I’m hoping to have more this year! I can’t wait to keep this in my “bag of tricks” while I’m photographing!!

I can certainly see how this works for the wedding industry, but that’s not where my business lies.. Does Two Bright Lights work for photographers outside of the wedding industry? Like in family and lifestyle portraits? Any suggestions/tips/advice for getting published outside the wedding industry publications? I’d love to hear your experience with this! Thanks in advance!! 🙂

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