Last week I attended Unveiled, a seminar in London on trends in the business of wedding photography, sponsored by the British Journal of Photography. Speakers included Catherine Westwood, editor of Wedding Magazine; Lisa Devlin, BJP’s 2010 wedding photographer of the year; Hugo Burnand, official photographer of the Royal Wedding’ and Alexis Cuddyre, bride-to-be and blogger/founder of OMG I’m Getting Married. The event was held in the Hasselblad studio in Shoreditch, which meant we got the opportunity to play around with some awesomely expensive cameras for a bit during the middle part of the day; the images here of lovely model Arina (wearing a dress from Luella’s Boudoir) were all shot on a Hasselblad HD-40 with 80mm lens.
Mark had somewhat unexpectedly had to run off to Turkey for his work with the International Committee for Sports for the Deaf and was still gone this day, so it turned out that little 3-month-old Oliver had to make the trip up to London to attend the day’s festivities along with me. He was a super little trooper, barely making a peep all day despite the length of it and the heat in the studio on the hottest, stuffiest day of the year so far, and everyone from the BJP and the other attendees were so lovely in making us feel welcome, in helping me keep him happy and in helping keep an eye on him so I could shoot the pictures that you see here.
The editor of Wedding, Catherine Westwood, had a list of extremely useful dos and don’ts for photographers and/or brides wishing to have weddings featured in the magazine. Once you’re ready, submit to Westwood using the contact info here; she accepts images in all sorts of forms, including print, CD/DVD, flash drive, email or via link to an online set.
1. Submit pictures in colour, with a consistent colour scheme or finish.
2. Submit pictures taken during daylight hours with as much natural light as possible.
3. Do submit pictures of an attractive bride and groom. Obviously “attractive” is subjective; I think everyone is attractive on their wedding day, whether conventionally so or not, and if the photographer has done his/her job, this will shine through in the pictures.
4. Do edit your pictures down to the strongest selection; send in a selection of approximately 30 representative images.
5. Do send a contact sheet with the images (this can be in digital or print form; the print module in Lightroom makes it dead easy to create one of these) so that the editors can get a feel at a glance for how they will look next to one another in a magazine layout. Westwood says she initially looks at thumbnails before moving on to check out bigger versions of the pictures.
6. Do submit a few pictures of the bride with bridesmaids and the groom with groomsmen.
7. Do submit lots of detail shots: flowers, invitations, place cards, favors, cakes, table decorations, place settings, sweets etc. The details are what Wedding’s readers are looking for – these provide inspiration for their own wedding planning.
8. Do be sure that the bride would be willing to be interviewed for the magazine, and that the couple would be happy to have their photographs published. Do this before you submit.
1. Don’t submit nighttime pictures; or more importantly, don’t submit a mix of daytime and nighttime shots. Consistency is key here; Westwood explained that sending in a mix of day and night shots tends to look like it contains pictures taken at different events.
2. Don’t submit pictures in black-and-white, cyanotype, selective colouring or sepia tone or a mix of images in colour and black-and-white .
3. Don’t submit pictures taken with a fish-eye lens.
4. Don’t submit pictures taken on a diagonal angle.
5. Don’t submit pictures of the guests. As one of my fellow attendees at Unveiled noted, essentially, you are shooting two different weddings or for two totally different audiences; you’re shooting all of your people pics for the couple and their loved ones while you’re shooting lots of detail, decoration and setting shots for the mag and its readers.
6. Don’t submit pictures of savoury foods. Westwood says that these very rarely photograph well (at least, not without some major food styling).
7. Don’t submit the same pictures to other publications while they are under consideration at the magazine. Wedding is aware that you want to get your work out there so aims to give you an answer quickly so that you can go on to make other submissions if necessary. I think Westwood said you could expect a reply within a month’s time. (My memory is a bit hazy on that time frame, but I believe that’s right. If anyone knows differently please feel free to correct me.)
8. Don’t submit pictures of the groom holding flowers. No mixing of the gender roles in this heterosexual fantasyland… which relates to the next don’t:
9. Don’t submit pictures of same-sex partnerships. When someone asked whether Wedding featured pictures of partnerships, Westwood’s answer was “Controversially, no.” She explained that the reasoning behind that decision was that the same-sex partnership market wasn’t big enough; the target market for Wedding was brides in heterosexual couples and that they might feature pictures of partnerships in a magazine dedicated to same-sex partnerships in a sort of separate-but-equal deal (hello, eHarmony and Brown v. Board of Education). Yet I think this reasoning is based on a false economy / faulty logic.
There’s no reason that straight brides couldn’t look at a gay wedding and be just as inspired by the details for planning their own event, nor that a gay couple couldn’t look at a feature on a straight couple and be inspired by their event ideas. It seems crazy to have to point out the painfully obvious in this day and age- that the sexual orientation of the bride[s] and/or groom[s] are irrelevant to their choices of orchids vs wildflowers, cupcakes vs layer cake, raffia vs silk etc. The best way to change this kind of policy, however, is if it’s made clear to the magazine that readers want to see a diverse range of couples, straight AND gay, and that they don’t wish gay couples to be relegated to some Other wedding ghetto. So anyway, if you think that Wedding magazine should let go of this Dark Ages policy, let them know.
Fortunately, Alexis Cuddyre of OMG I’m Getting Married has no such restrictions. She is happy to feature couples of all orientations and she added a few additional pieces of good advice to the above about getting your pictures published on a wedding blog. Alexis advised that you:
Do submit engagement pictures that show a clear narrative; this can be achieved by writing a little script or story with the couple before the shoot.
Don’t send high-resolution photos or large files of any kind that take a long time to load.
Anyway, that’s the gist of what I remember. Overall I hope that’s useful info. If you submit pictures to Wedding magazine or OMG I’m Getting Married, if you get featured OR if you get in touch with Wedding to protest their policy on featuring hetero couples only, do let me know! Finally, what do you think about Wedding‘s straights-only policy? If you were looking for wedding inspiration, would the sexual orientation of the couple pictured in a magazine’s wedding photos be relevant to you?