I’m not ashamed to admit I have an obsession with wedding photographer Jasmine Star. Ever since I’ve come across her work and her blog, her wisdom has kept me going in my quest to set up as a wedding planner and continue posting on this blog. It also helps that Jasmine is a terribly down to earth person who will tirelessly reply to her followers’ questions via her blog and via email. She is real, human, genuine and exceptionally generous.
Just over two weeks ago I sat in front of my computer from Friday to Sunday, 5pm to midnight, to follow Jasmine‘s course on Creative Live ‘Getting Published. Shooting an Editorial Wedding‘. Incredibly I was not one bit upset to be spending my weekend in front of the computer. In fact, I felt so much more refreshed and determined by the end of it, that I selfishly wished Jasmine would do this every month (sorry Jasmine!).
Below is the aim of the course as described on the Creative Live website:
This three-day event will be packed with how-to and tips for wedding photographers. In addition to lighting, posing, and technique, Jasmine will photograph a bride and groom, and a gorgeous wedding set up that’ll facilitate a live demonstration how to photograph wedding details, elements, and moments with an editorial flair. The course will also address how Jasmine successfully submits her work for national publication and include discussions with editors on how photographers can approach a wedding day to maximize their publication opportunities. Be prepared for a smashing good time as Jasmine dissects her photography, online marketing, and teaches you how to create a fabulous experience.
As a blogger and a planner I feel this course has given me a better grasp of how wedding photographers like to work, how to collaborate on a shoot, what top wedding bloggers and magazines look for in editorial submissions, and how to turn a wedding that may not be most useful for my portfolio into something positive that I could be proud to show others.
I’ve written below some of the other lessons I’ve learnt during those three days – please forgive me if they feel random and disjointed, but I couldn’t possibly write everything down, so here are just a few key points:
♥ Strong photographers are stylists: Whenever you take pictures of details, at a wedding or at a styled shoot, use your initiative if needed and move things around (on a table, for instance) to make them look their best and ensure the shot feels editorial. This is a really important, I thought, because not all of us get a chance to shoot or organise weddings with perfect or super creative details. It happens, particularly at the beginning of our careers, that you get involved in low-budget weddings, which, with all the best intentions, may feel unsuitable for our portfolio; however attention to details and a little styling on our part could give that extra touch that will allow you to proudly showcase that wedding (for more on this watch the section ‘Shooting what you have Vs. Shooting what you want‘).
♥ Work those styled shoots: Soooo much to say about this section! The most valuable information I gathered from Jasmine was the importance of 1. working with a team of people that you can relate to from a professional point of view i.e. we are at a similar point in our career, or our prices are at the same level, etc., 2. ensuring the creative team is on the same page and share the same goals, 3. creating something that hasn’t been done before so as to increase editorial appeal.
♥ Over-communicating is better than not communicating: I am exactly like that! Within limits I like to explain things in detail and I actually get frustrated when replies are succinct and show that they have been written in a hurry. In your dealing with a creative team, taking time to communicate clearly with them will help you make sure that there are no misunderstandings and that you’re all working towards the same objective. I, for one, have just learnt the value of this by overcommunicating with one of the suppliers I was working with for a shoot, which resulted in us realising that we weren’t working towards the same goal. This has saved us time in the long run and has allowed us to depart in an amicable way.
♥ Submitting a shoot or real wedding to a blog: for this section Jasmine invited Summer Watkins from Grey Likes Wedding to share insights into what wedding bloggers generally require when it comes to submissions.
– Exclusivity: Featuring a wedding that has already appeared on another blog is a big no no, so if you have a shoot or a wedding you want to submit to a specific blogger, then go for that blogger only and allow sufficient time for them to reply. If the shoot is time sensitive / seasonal, then feel free to follow up with the blogger if you haven’t heard from them within a couple of weeks, but whatever you do, ensure that you inform the blogger if you have had the shoot featured somewhere else.
– Real weddings and styled shoots are blogged as a way to inspire couples, so it is important that details shots are included. Summer provided an approx ratio as an indication of what they expect to receive: 70-20-10, that is 70% still life / details, 20% portraits, 10% emotional moment. I wouldn’t call this the golden ration, but it certainly gives a good indication of how important details are.
– Consistent editing, preferably bright, clean and colourful images.
– Know your blogs! Ensure that your wedding is the right fit for the audience and the specific blog you have chosen to approach. Be attentive, organised (i.e. label your pictures properly!), and selective.
– Be polite and respond to emails… And on this point, I will have a little ‘whinge’ – I receive submissions via TwoBrightLights which is a great tool, albeit a bit impersonal. I often reply to submissions by putting them on hold and explaining what I would need in order to accept it; however more often than not I get no reply AT ALL, not even an acknowledgement. I find this disrespectful and a complete waste of time on both sides, so please, please, please do acknowledge bloggers’ emails and if you have found another blog who is happy to publish your wedding, do let us know.
♥ When you plan to submit a wedding to a magazine or blog, prepare a questionnaire for the couple to fill in so that you can provide as many details to the editor as possible. If there are lots of DIY details, it’s so much nicer if we can include in the feature the couple’s own feedback on how they have come up with the theme and how they went about DIY’ing some of the details.
I’d love to keep writing and adding my own impressions and lessons learnt, but I honestly feel that the best way for you to benefit from this course is to download it. If you think this might be for you, have a look at the course outline on Jasmine’s blog, where you will be able to see if/what portions of the course apply to you specifically.
I genuinely think this course is not just for photographers. If you are a wedding supplier who gets involved in styled shoots, then do consider the option of downloading it if you have the budget (currently at $149). If nothing else, you will gain a better grasp of how to cooperate with a creative team on a shoot and what you should consider when submitting a wedding / styled shoot to online & print publications, which in turn could lead to more client enquiries.
And last but not least, thank you Jasmine for allowing me to share your images on my humble, little blog – I truly appreciate your kindness and generosity in sharing your knowledge with us, and the fact that you remain approachable despite being so popular. You being the way you are teaches us the biggest lesson of all – humility. I hope that I will be able to repay you somehow for your support and that when, or actually IF, my business ever takes off, people will feel as at ease and comfortable with approaching me as you make me feel today.