How to make detail shots work for you AND your clients – By Richard Bell Photography

The gorgeous bouquet, a yummy cake, DIY centerpieces… There’s no doubt that capturing the details of a wedding is a must when shooting for publication. Editors love to feature detail shots because they want to write posts and articles that will inspire their readers who are likely in the process of planning their big day.

While detail shots are often looked at as something that only benefits getting published, Richard Bell Photography paints a different picture. With their working being published 88 times through Two Bright Lights in 2015, they clearly know how to appeal to editors through their submissions. But, more importantly, they know how to make those detail shots work double-time. Keep reading to learn how Richard Bell Photography utilizes their detail shots in ways that will appeal to their clients AND get them published over and over again.


Why do you want to be published? How has getting published helped your business grow? Richard Bell Photography began using Two Bright Lights as part of a new marketing initiative for our business. Before TBL, we weren’t pursuing marketing and getting published in a serious way. We were big into sharing photos with fellow vendors but that was as far as we went into marketing and brand awareness. But this process of sharing our photos with vendor friends seemed to be similar to submitting so we only found it natural to begin getting our work published. After some larger changes to our company’s strategy, we worked Two Bright Lights into our workflow with the hopes of achieving our new goal of getting published.

Overall, there isn’t one main reason to explain why we want to get published. There are so many smaller reasons and we really can’t pinpoint one! But I can say that the main thing that keeps us publishing is the effect getting published has on our clients. Our couples find getting published to be so flattering and it is such a nice piece of news to present to them as their photographer. It’s notoriety that their wedding and our work is “cool” enough for publications to want their audiences to see.

Similarly, getting published helps us strengthen our vendor relationships. After an album is featured, we get to contact all of our vendor friends and say ‘hey, we got you published!’ It’s important to remember that venues, caterers, and other vendors have the power to refer us to potential clients. Getting published only gives them another reason to refer us and grow our business leads. If we bring these vendors something of value, they’re much more likely to return the favor.

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Richard Bell Photography

What do you recommend to first-time submitters? What is the one thing they need to include in a submission? Submit the photographs that showcase the event’s details- especially the details that have thought behind them. Details that have been planned out by the couple and have meaning behind them are so important to include in a submission. For example, one might consider, ‘What was the planning that went into the details of the bride’s hair piece and veil that coordinates with the groom’s tie? Or the reception tables that are named after places the bride and groom have visited?’

Not only are these details that publications want to feature but the couple will also appreciate someone else taking note of their hard work. These pieces of a wedding can really mean a lot to a couple and they will want them photographed. But it’s important to remember that they will also want them to be noticed and appreciated. A wedding is an expression of a couple and clients love when someone else takes notice of their carefully planned day. So not only are detail shots good for submission, but they’re also great for building relationships with your clients.

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Richard Bell Photography

How do you go about crafting a submission? What are some of the things you focus on when you are putting together an album and creating a submission? There are a couple of tools and methods that we use when going through our TBL workflow. The first is that we have a handful of questions that we ask the couple to answer and fill out before their wedding. This information then helps us write the album story later on. We also make sure that we have all of the vendors’ contact information so we can properly tag them and include them in our submissions.

We, of course, include a lot of detail shots and we use those in combination with our more signature shots that Richard Bell Photography is known for. Many of the pictures that we love the most and the clients love the most are not the ones that are preferred by editors. This can be a challenge when you’re being paid by the client to flatter them, but you need to prioritize getting and including those vendor shots. You need to showcase the whole look of the day in the details, fashion, decor and of course images that flatter the other vendors that also worked hard on the day.

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Richard Bell Photography

Do you have any tricks that you use when you are actually shooting a wedding to make sure that you get all of those shots that you’re going to want later on when creating a submission? Don’t forget to capture those detail shots! We like to schedule detail shots ahead of time so we don’t miss out on getting them in during the lulls of the day. It’s crucial to know what your window of time is so you can do your best to work with the event planner for those images. For example, working with the wedding planner ahead of time can allow us to have candles lit for a few minutes so we can get the best centerpiece shot.

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Richard Bell Photography

How has social media played a role in your business? Are you finding that couples are seeing your work on say Instagram and then coming wanting to book you? We definitely focus on social media. And Richard Bell Photography definitely get clients coming through our social channels. But the vast majority of our business leads come through vendor referrals. While social media helps us generate business leads, it’s most important function for us is in keeping up our relationships fellow wedding pros. Once we’re featured in a publication, I can then post about it on social media and tag everyone involved. It’s a little touch that builds a meaningful relationship with other vendors and that is where I see the main value of social media.

So let’s backtrack a little bit…how did you get started as a photographer? Richard Bell was my dad. He founded his first studio in New York back in the 80s and I sort of grew up around it. We moved to Charleston in the early 90s and that’s when Richard Bell Photography came into existence. I continued to work with him as a kid and then I went to USC Columbia and got an art degree. I came back in 2004 and took over the photography studio for my dad. A couple years later, my wife joined the studio and over the years people who have come in as assistants or second photographers have graduated and become lead photographers. We’ve kind of collected people over the years and everyone that shoots weddings at our studio is an employee of Richard Bell Photography. We don’t work with outside contractors. We are all Richard Bell Photography staff photographers.

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Richard Bell Photography

What’s something that you’ve learned when you first started out? Was there a big moment when you learned a lesson that you would like to share with new photographers starting out? As I look back over the years, I’m astounded at how long it took me to learn things! I would spend so many years doing things in a nonoptimal way and after shooting dozens of weddings I’d finally learn how to do that thing a better way. If I had just pursued education a little bit more I could have learned these things a lot faster. Things like off camera lighting, lens selection or even how to interact with clients are all lessons I could have learned quickly and efficiently through education and vendor relationships. Over the years, as I’ve gotten to meet lots of photographers I’ve learned things that’s obvious to other people but may not be obvious to me. So it’s important to take advantage of the resources that are out there because talking to other photographers could save you years of doing something inefficiently or incorrectly.

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Richard Bell Photography

What inspires you? Why do you shoot weddings? Weddings are an incredibly fun place to take pictures! When you have the clients that are on board with your style, you get to create for people who are really excited to see what you have created. And that’s actually a really hard thing to find in the art world. Weddings are a very happy and comfortable place to create art because you have an audience that is really invested in the art you’re creating. If you can build a trusting relationship with your clients it can be a freeing process to go and create compelling images that an audience will really cherish and appreciate afterward.


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 Richard Bell Photography.

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