6 Reasons Why Your Work is Not Getting Published

Jenny Tenney Photography

You’ve put a lot of time and effort into crafting your submissions to blogs, magazines and websites. So when you receive the “not a fit” notification, you’re left wondering “What did I do wrong?”  We’ve got the answers! Check out the 6 most common reasons why you’re not getting published.

1. Seriously: Enough with the portraits already!

Real wedding or event features are there to serve as inspiration for future brides, grooms and party planners. Editors want to use your images to help their readers imagine what their own events could be like and how they can personalize elements in a creative way. To do that they need images of the flowers, the cake, the tables, the dresses, and every other detail imaginable, as well as a few different establishing shots of the ceremony venue and the reception venue. So repeat after us: I will create my submission with DETAILS, DETAILS, and MORE DETAILS! Was there a donut dessert bar? Did the bride make a bouquet out of brooches? Was there an amazing architectural ceiling at the venue? That’s what editors want to see.

When the time comes to hit submit, you should only have around 30 images with people in them – and 100 to 120 shots of everything else.


2. Wait, your album only has 49 images?!

150 images may seem like a lot, but really, it’s not. Think about it from the perspective of the editor – they want options! They need to be creative, and especially for non-exclusive publications, they want to create a feature that is unique to their publication. Even when it seems like you have added enough detail shots, add some more. Remember, that is what editors use to inspire their readers with lots of new ideas.


3. Spoiler alert!

Let’s pretend you’re watching a movie that you’ve never seen before, but for some reason it started right in the middle, then skips from there to the beginning, to the end and then back to the beginning. How frustrating would that be?! Just when you think you’re getting the story, it completely changes on you. When you’re submitting your album to an editor, it’s like they’re viewing a “movie” for the first time, and you want to help them understand the story.

With that in mind, make sure you keep your images in the order they occurred – If there was an amazing first look, make sure that is before the ceremony and even if the send-off is absolutely breathtaking, keep it at the end of the album.

Helpful hint: If there is one image that you want the editor to see first, regardless of when it occurred, make it the cover image!


4. You created this whole shoot yourself!?

We all know that it’s a BIG no-no to post a feature without crediting the photographer. So why should that be any different for the florist, the cake baker, or the planner? They worked hard on producing the event or shoot too. Plus, tagged vendors will receive publication notifications and will promote you in return, creating an even larger social reach!

70% of editors say that it is critical to include vendors in your submissions, so this is one easy step that can really help cinch the publication acceptance.


5. Your album story is a total snoozer

Nondescript album stories are something we see all the time. Remember, this is the place to share everything special about the event with the editor – They weren’t there, you were! They need to create excellent editorial content to go along with the beautiful images, so the more context and details you include, the better. Include as much of the backstory as you can: How the couple met, something that made the event or shoot really personal, something funny that happened, an especially touching moment, etc. Sometimes the images aren’t quite enough, so this added information could potentially seal the deal.

Don’t worry if you aren’t a fantastic writer! A bullet-pointed list is also fine. Just gather as much of the back story as possible to help the editor do their job.


6. You made the editor feel like last pick in gym class

While it is ultimately up to you how many publications you submit your album to, we do STRONGLY suggest you keep that to no more than 5 at a time. Editors can see where you have submitted your work, so when they notice that you submitted that album to 25 other publications, they know that you really didn’t do your research to determine which publications would be the right fit for you.

We know that researching publications can take some time, but doing that hard work upfront can lead to success in the long-run. Take a look at the publications’ most recent features, their Instagram feed and their Two Bright Lights profile pages to see the style of images they feature. Doing your research will make them feel special and put you one step ahead of the rest.

Only 40% of wedding professionals get published – join their elite ranks! 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 Jenny Tenney Photography.

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  1. So you’re saying for us to tell our clients “forget about portraits. We are going to come to your wedding and heavily photograph the details of the day, because trust us, you want to get published!”

    Yeah no.

    Enough’s enough. This photographer is going to start a movement to boycott publishers. A wedding is about the PEOPLE, not the things. Haven’t you learned what is most important in life by now?!

    Shame on you ALL.

    1. Hi there,

      Thank you for your comment and thoughtful feedback.

      We would like to clarify that Two Bright Lights would never tell photographers not to shoot a client’s portraits or other important photography in order to focus on getting detail shots for publishing. This article aims to provide photographers and vendors with tips on how to craft a submission in such a way that includes the important shots but also includes the photos that editors are looking for.

      Editors are looking for the detail shots because their content is aiming to inspire those that are in the midst of planning their special day. And we know that many of our photographers have the opportunity to take those detail shots to not only benefit their businesses but the awareness and credibility of local vendors as well. Because of this, we try to provide our users with educational resources to help them find a balance between doing what they love (photography and vendor services) while also growing their brand and client base.

      Many photographers find ways to shoot events to not only meet their clients’ needs but also work to get their photographs published to help grow their marketing and brand awareness. For example, we hear from our members that they can have moments of downtime throughout the wedding day. So we encourage photographers to shoot some detail shots in between the events of the day so they not only make the day the best it can be for the client but work for their brand as well. Additionally, some photographers may choose to bring a second shooter to make sure that the details can be shot but more importantly that the wedding couple gets total attention and focus on their day as well. There are many ways in which photographers can shoot the people of the day and the details. I’d recommend checking out some of our blog articles to learn about how other fellow photographers are making getting published work for themselves and the client.

      We here at Two Bright Lights want to help photographers get their work published in a more convenient way so that photographers and vendors can focus on doing what they love to do most, which is creating and capturing beautiful events and images. And if there is anything we can do to assist you with this, we’d be more than happy to help.

      Best wishes,
      Tessa, Social Media & Community Coordinator, Two Bright Lights

  2. Very helpful. thank you.
    when you say 5 at time (point #6)….what is the recommended length of time between the next 5 submissions for same event? (ie 3 weeks)?

  3. They’re not saying don’t shoot portraits, they’re just saying don’t submit only portraits. Yes, weddings are about people, but wedding BLOGS are about planning and the “things.” Doesn’t mean you can’t shoot a wedding for both. You just display it differently.

  4. I’ve struggled with blog submissions due to the large amount of details wanted by editors.

    As a documentary wedding photographer, I aim to highlight moments and the people within those moments. As a business owner, I aim to get exposure to attract clients who appreciate my style and approach.

    But when I submit to wedding blogs, I don’t have a chance to attract very many potential clients because most of the moments submitted get bypassed for a detail shot of a cake, stationary, place setting, etc. So while editors get a good variety of details, my potential clients aren’t going to go crazy and say, “Oh look at that cake shot! I need that photographer because he takes cake shots like nobody else.”

    I wish there were more blogs that gave equal weight to details as well as the moments that take place in among those scenes and details.

    Luckily, Two Bright Lights makes it easy to resubmit.

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