Image Attraction: 5 Elements of Powerful Photo Submissions
A Richard Photo Lab guest blog post by our friend Jacqueline Tobin, Editor-in-Chief of Rangefinder
Image by Caroline Tran, one of Rangefinder's 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography in 2012
Want to get my attention? Go on then, punch me in the gut—HARD. But not with your fists… with your vision and creativity! When I look at an image, I want it to take my breath away.
I often get asked what it is about an image that makes me respond a certain way. What do I look for when I’m scouting for our next Rf 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography, choosing images submitted for Rangefinder’s monthly print issue, or judging the WPPI Print Competition? Much of it is innate, but I also have a series of elements I always look for.
These key components will be considered by most any publication/award in the wedding photography industry.
5 ELEMENTS OF POWERFUL IMAGE SUBMISSIONS:
It’s one thing to capture an emotional moment but another to actually stir emotion in your viewer upon seeing that moment.
Is your body of work cohesive, does it convey your signature style? In order to answer in the positive, you must first figure out what your signature style is. As far as I’m concerned, not having one is still a style, and there’s still a thread to be woven throughout your work.
Image by Eric Kelley, one of Rangefinder's 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography in 2013
3. EDITORIAL QUALITY
Does it look good on the printed page or in a gallery presentation? Every time I judge our 30 Rising Stars submissions, the first thing I say to myself about a potential winner’s body of work is, “This looks like a 30 Rising Star image; I can see it printed on a page in the Rangefinder issue’s gallery.”
4. QUIRKY SENSE OF HUMOR
This isn’t expected every time, but if you are going for offbeat, then go all the way!
5. FEARLESS EXPERIMENTATION
Be bold—take a chance and experiment! Instead of another shot with a wedding dress hanging from a tree or a hotel window, how about trying something completely different? I saw one image where the dress was dangling from a bridge; another featured the dress on a mannequin, taking on its own life.
Image by Leslee Mitchell, one of Rangefinder's 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography in 2014
When you’re confident that you’ve mastered these elements in your images themselves, you’ve got to make your work work for you. Here’s a few how-tos for getting your photography seen (and remembered by publishers and brides)!
HOW TO GET AN EDITOR’S ATTENTION:
- Tag publications on social media (you can even reach out and ask to do a social takeover!).
- Submit work to blogs (like Rangefinder’s Wedding of the Week and Photo of the Day—email email@example.com).
- Be on the grid—have email addresses visible and years in business readily available. While contact forms are a great way to screen your clients, they deter editors from trying to track you down. Every website or social media profile you have should list an email address or other easy way to contact you.
HOW TO GET PUBLISHED
- Do research on your favorite magazine or blog’s aesthetic style before you submit. Many magazines want mostly details shots, others will prefer portraits, and others still want every moment of the day.
- Pitch story ideas, send printed promos we can post on our office walls, and keep in touch (don’t call every day, but a follow-up email or two is okay).
- Be aware of a magazine cover’s logo and format when submitting cover image candidates.
Image by Free the Bird, one of Rangefinder's 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography in 2015
HOW TO CREATE YOUR PORTFOLIO SUBMISSION FOR RANGEFINDER’S 30 RISING STARS:
- Cultivate a consistent look that’s yours, and yours alone (i.e., get going on that signature style). It’s okay to be inspired by other work, but consider how you take a typical wedding shot—like the ring shot—and make it your own.
- Be mindful of including variety -- detail shots, getting ready, food, reception etc.
- Strategically develop your overall composition—be your own best editor and ask yourself as you go through your submissions, “Which one of these images is not like the others?” Then toss it!
- Submissions should have sentimental and storytelling elements throughout.
Jacqueline Tobin has been the editor-in-chief of Rangefinder Magazine for three years. Prior to that, she worked at Rangefinder’s sister publication, Photo District News, for 27 years. Jacqueline is a nominator and judge for the annual Rf 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography competition, as well as a judge for WPPI’s First and Second Half Member’s Only competition, and for the live WPPI Print Competition in Vegas.