How to Get Published Through Storytelling
I fell in love with Julie and Aaron from the beginning. I knew Julie in high school and we went on a mission trip together a few years ago! You may have read about how they visited a nursing home or how he now wears her grandfather's wedding ring on Instagram. Every part of their wedding day was touched with one meaningful detail or another and it was all wrapped up with stories of legacy.
I considered reaching out to a local or national magazine for this story! I was actually in the process of creating my submission when I realized that the best thing for this wedding - for this story - was to be seen as many times as possible. So I submitted to one of my very favorites: Style Me Pretty! They picked up the wedding within 24 hours for the front page and I'm excited for you to see every last bit of it in their article today!
Now let me tell you about how I approached this submission because it wasn't full of the typical submission photos!
Improvise if you are missing certain elements
Julie gave away her bouquet during her reception. I mean, who does that?! If I was the 90-year-old woman who received that bouquet, I would have cried! Since Julie and Aaron opted for the hour-long sunset session after the reception, I didn't have many photos of just the bride and groom with the bouquet.
As soon as she gave away the bouquet, I started thinking through alternatives. Could we borrow the bouquet from the 90-year-old woman who couldn't have been happier to receive the bouquet? Probably so! But she left before the reception was over. I decided to use a few of the reception props (frames, lantern, etc) to create a variety of couple photos.
Find the story behind the missing details and tell it! I didn't leave the editor wondering about the bouquet - I decided to let the SMP team know that Julie gave it away. I'm not sure I will ever get over how sweet that is!
Related: 3 Ways to Get an Editor's Attention
Ask the bride to write their story
I always send my couples a few questions to fill out before their wedding! The questions are designed so that I learn the most I can about their story, their wedding, and the beautiful details that touch both. I love including this in my submissions because other brides love seeing this information!
I always read the questions out loud to Isaac so that we can remember the hearts of the people we are serving. Those questions shape how I approach my bridal detail photos, couple photos - really, every photo I take!
Don't be afraid to leave out unnecessary details
The reception took place in a quaint church in my hometown, but I didn't see it as the main event. I knew that if SMP decided to publish the wedding, that they would want to tell the story about Julie and Aaron visiting the nursing home. And I was right!
Because I had a limited number of photos - I only submit 100-120 images - I decided to cut the reception out of the submission. I knew it was a risky move and it was probably just a one-time thing, but I felt like it was a stronger submission if the nursing home visit took the place of the reception. I can't imagine that I will ever cut reception images again - this was a one-time thing. If you cut reception images, your submission might be automatically declined.
Tell the story as if you were there, but include details for people who weren't
If you were at Julie and Aaron's wedding, you know that people cried. You know that they spent their whole wedding day honoring other marriages. The best way I can communicate that to an editor through words is to explain what they are seeing in the photographs.
I told SMP that Julie and Aaron did their grand exit and headed straight to the nursing home. As a photographer, it would be easy to forget to write that part of the story. It might seem obvious that they visited a nursing home. But if an editor is going to share that part of the story, they need to be sure that they are sharing the right story!