Getting Published with Two Bright Lights

Marketing is hard work. It’s a necessary part of business, of course, and most photographers know that. However, sometimes figuring out the “how” and “where” of marketing gets in the way of the actual marketing.

That’s where Two Bright Lights fits into the busy photographer’s schedule. As a platform that connects thousands of event professionals with over 400 publishers and editors, Two Bright Lights may be your answer to marketing success. We sat down with Alison Bernstein (General Manager) and Meghan Brown (Manager) to ask them some questions about getting published.

 

What do publishers look for in a set of images? What gives one photographer an edge over another?

It’s most important to tell a story about an event from a perspective that makes it relatable to the audience. You need amazing detail shots, close-ups of the food, the flowers, and the decor. Photos of the venue are crucial. Despite what many people think, you only need a handful of images of the people themselves — just enough to let the viewer connect to their story. “Pinnable” photos are important!

However, the images are only one part. Every submission needs vendor information (so editors can reference the right people)– that’s absolutely imperative. The editorial content is also super important. Publishers need the story about how the couple met, what their lives are like, where their inspiration came from to create that type of wedding, etc. The story is just as important as the photos themselves.

Let’s be honest. Not every wedding is exceptionally Pinterest-y. What do you do then?

We have a lot of photographers who actually get published when the event itself was a little bland! They create the opportunity, even when the wedding is slim on publish-worthy details. Our advice is to bring lights, set up shots that look beautiful, even if you have to make them yourself. Take photos of the flowering plants outside or look for things that may not appear unique to the naked eye, but really are. If you know the colors of the wedding, bring ribbon to accent the things you’re shooting. Photographers who are motivated can be highly successful.

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What’s the best way to organize / upload the images?

Each album that’s submitted can have up to 150 images. Use them all! The more photographers that use ShootProof, the better: make an album in ShootProof that has 150 images from each event, then integrate your account with Two Bright Lights.

Always keep the photos in the order they occurred; you don’t want photos of the bride and groom leaving the wedding to be the first ones a potential publisher sees. Include an ABUNDANCE of detail shots. The albums you submit for publishing shouldn’t necessarily be the same images you sent to the couple; remember your audience.

What’s the demand like for published photos?

There are 400 active publications on Two Bright Lights, and we do an annual review to be sure they’re actively accepting submissions. There are thousands of albums of photos submitted and accepted each month. Of course, it varies over time, but these publishers are constantly looking for fresh work.  We’re also continuously thinking about how to make submissions even more tailored for the right publication so that we’re streamlining the process for photographers.

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So, what types of photographs get published most? 

Wedding imagery is the most in-demand from the publications; the second would be family and baby portraits. But there’s a need for maternity pictures, engagements, events like 1st birthday parties, or christenings, or Sweet 16s. These events often have the same details as weddings (vendors supplying different goods, a fancy venue, etc.).  Some of our editors even look for lifestyle images and interior design. The shoots don’t always have to be real, either; styled shoots are up-and-coming and people love them!

Who’s responsible for making sure these photos can legally be published?

The photographer uploads the photos to our service and takes responsibility for having the appropriate copyrights and model releases. The publisher isn’t responsible for an additional check, so photographers would need to be sure they have the proper documentation to allow the photos to be published.

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Why should photographers “give away” their images? They’ve always been told not to shoot “for exposure.”

Photographers who submit their work to be published through Two Bright Lights have a need to market themselves, which is different for, say, commercial photographers, whose client IS the publisher.  These photographers’ clients are moms, brides, wedding planners — the people planning the events– and they’ve already been paid for those photos! They are using publishing to build their brand and need to use social media to get the word out about who they are and what they do. Many times, they are finding the need to pay for advertising. Getting published, then, grows their brand in an organic way; it’s amping the power of their personal brand.

When a potential bride Googles a photographer and sees they’ve been featured in three online publications, it gives them credibility. It gives social proof to the work that they do, and especially in this day and age, that’s important. In some cases, being published gets a photographer discovered! Features on blogs and other online publications live on forever; it becomes a marketing vehicle that never goes away.

I don’t know. It still sounds like it might not work.

Here’s when publishing this way DOESN’T work.  It doesn’t work if the photographer and the vendors aren’t properly credited, or if there is no link to the photographer’s website and contact form.  We don’t put up with that; Two Bright Lights has clear terms of service for both parties, and they both are required to respect the needs of the other party.

We have a power user who has been published over 150 times just through Two Bright Lights; she explains how anytime someone searches “Utah Photographer,” her name comes up. A potential client clicks on ANY of those publications, falls in love with what she sees, and already that client is determined to have THAT photographer as her own. In this day and age, it’s hard to manage a business quietly. You have to be social, you have to come up in searches, you have to be visible– millennial brides are coming to expect it.

That makes sense! Any tips for first-timers?

Tons! Put in a little bit of work up front by going to the publications’ websites. Look at the types of work they publish, the caliber of the images, the style they look for. There’s that saying, “there’s a lid for every pot.” Find the publishers that are looking for images that match your vibe. Always include a personal note about the story of the event or the shoot, like you would create a cover letter for a job interview. Make the editors’ jobs as easy as possible to select you.

If you use ShootProof, submitting to Two Bright Lights simply becomes a quick step in your workflow, since you’re not having to find photos, go and upload them, etc. It really becomes quite easy to get your images up for consideration for publication. Win-win for everyone!

 

Ready to give Two Bright Lights a try? Save 10% on annual subscription with promo code SHOOTPROOFTBLOffer valid on new or upgraded annual memberships. Expires 12/31/16.

Get hooked up! Create a gallery now for submission to Two Bright Lights.