As seasoned wedding photographers, with over 20 years of combined experience, the Riverland Studios team is privy to industry knowledge that newcomers only dream of. They’ve documented hundreds of weddings, creating a wildly successful photography business located in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina.
While Riverland Studios’ work is a big hit with potential clients they’ve also won over the hearts of editors landing over 125 published features in 2015 alone. Over time, they’ve learned what it takes to inspire and excite future brides and grooms while also crafting high-quality submissions to grow their business leads. So what’s the secret to their success? Well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out!
What makes for submission success? What would you recommend to a first-time submitter? “There are a few elements that make a submission successful. The first is to really research the publications in which you want to be featured and examine the types of photography that they’re already featuring. This includes the aesthetic of the image retouching as well as how things are photographed. This will be something to keep in your mind when photographing a portrait session or wedding.
It is also extremely important to provide information beyond the photos. For example, any special moments like a touching first look or a unique family tradition should always be included in an album story. Being able to share details about the couple like their proposal story or their inspiration for the wedding design is not something that should be overlooked. Pairing great photographs with relevant details and written content is what makes a submission stand out from the rest.”
Why do you want to be published? How has getting published helped your business? “Being published is amazing for several reasons. One reason is that we hope the beautiful portraits and weddings from our couples help inspire others planning a wedding. From wedding design to candid moments, we want people to be excited about their upcoming big day and seeing photos of other couples’ experiences is something that resonates with that audience.
We also know how hard wedding vendors work in order to help their couples’ once-in-a-lifetime event come true! So, a small part of us wants to brag on that a little bit. We enjoy showing the world what this team of wedding vendors created and getting our photos published helps us accomplish that goal.”
What do you wish you knew when you were just starting out as a wedding photographer? “This could be a book! But the main things were more on the business side of the profession. Artists just want to embrace their art and want the people we share it with to love it. There are a lot of components to the business side that novice photographers aren’t usually prepared for, anything from legal (contracts, business licenses, sales tax, etc.) to developing great customer service (answering emails within 24hrs, providing questionnaires to couples in order to know them better and know what images are most important to them, etc.). So, yes, we’re artists but as soon as you make it a profession and business there are other skill sets needed in order to be successful and have happy clients.”
What about your work inspires you? “What inspires us is the love of life’s unique and impermanent moments. We know how much we cherish our family photos and how a collection of photographs can preserve the history of a family. This is at the heart of what we do and why we feel it is a privilege to photograph a couple’s wedding.”
What is one unexpected thing you’ve learned since you began working as a photographer? “It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been doing this, we always learn something unexpected every year! One thing in particular, is the struggle with the business side of photography and developing great customer service. As artists, these important pieces don’t always come naturally but some of these things can be learned and cultivated through experience. What is consistent is that our profession is always adapting and changing, especially within the industry. Digital photography altered this profession indefinitely. And tools like Pinterest finally created a visual way for clients to better articulate what they love about certain images. So, every several years something new develops. It’s part of our job to adapt in meaningful ways in order to stay relevant but to also provide the best in photography and service to our clients.”
How do you use social media to enhance your brand? And how do you share your published features? “Social media is a great tool to share our current work and featured weddings. Like anything else, it is constantly changing and we have to figure out how best to reach people and what type of content our audiences want to see.
And while social media can take a lot of work, it does create a more frequent communication with people and potential clients. It allows us to share what we’re up to so they can better understand our photographic philosophy and hopefully enjoy and be inspired by our work! But when we are featured in a publication, we make sure to share it on our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages as well as Pinterest and LinkedIn.”
Give us some of your pro shooting and editing tips! “The easiest tip to give for hobbyists is to not take a photo like a tourist. What we mean by this is don’t just stand where you are and simply put the camera to your face to snap a picture. You need to get lower or higher, find patterns, layer objects within an image, fine beautiful light or colors. The more hypersensitive you are to the elements around you, the easier it will be to craft a photo.
As for editing, avoid altering reality. Everyone loves Photoshop these days and unfortunately, there are clients that hope that we can create a whole new “them” in post-production. But we simply do not do that and do not want to any time in the near future. We’re about capturing authentic moments and chronicling as accurate of a visual story as possible.”
Only 40% of wedding professionals get published – join them in becoming a submissions rockstar! Two Bright Lights makes it fast and easy to get published and costs less than $15/month. In just three quick steps, you can submit your work to more than 400 magazines, blogs and websites, including The Knot, POPSUGAR, Brit + Co, MunaLuchi Bride, Every Last Detail and more. So what are you waiting for? Sign-up today at twobrightlights.com
Photos courtesy of Riverland Studios.