Boston & New England Wedding Photographer Deborah Zoe

Boston & North Shore Wedding Photographer creating timeless imagery for classic New England weddings with a fine art approach.

Ask Anything : Two Bright Lights

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I've fielded a lot of questions about Two Bright Lights and submissions lately so I thought I'd share my thoughts on this amazing application! Two Bright Lights is an integral part of my wedding workflow and it's one of the best time saving tools that I use!

I started using Two Bright Lights when it was first introduced several years back. I remember thinking that I had no idea what the program was or what it did exactly, but I knew I wanted to give it a try! You may be asking the same thing, what the heck is Two Bright Lights? Well, TBL is an online program that shares your images with blogs and magazines for publication for a yearly subscription fee. You can even allow vendors to see and/or download your images directly from the site as well. And don't be fooled, Two Bright Lights is MORE than just wedding blogs, so make sure to check out their editorial partners! Who knows, you could see yourself featured on all kinds of blogs!

So back to the beginning. I opened up TBL and had no idea where to start! (The format has been adjusted slightly from the beginning, but basically there is an upload area, an album/edit area, a submission area and a support area.) I uploaded some of my 2010 weddings and went to town, thinking that if I submitted everything, one would stick. (don't do this!) I was fortunate to have a few blogs pick up the weddings I shared and I was hooked. It was SO easy, SO simple and such a fast way to share my couple's weddings, my work and my name!

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Screen shot 2012-03-21 at 3.47.11 PM

Before TBL, if you wanted to submit to a wedding blog, often times you had to upload, email or worse, MAIL, 5-15 images manually, often emailing back and forth with the blog editor. This took time, a lot of time, and it often could be come a problem in your workflow. With TBL, now everything is done with the click of a button, inside an online application and all together in one viewing area. You can click through vendors to add to your event, write a description, and invite people to view your images all in minutes. And imagine the delight editors now have when going through submissions! All applicable information is at their finger tips (and you better believe this makes editors happy and certainly increases your chances of being published!) Instead of taking me several hours to submit to a publication, now it takes me about 45 minutes from upload to information to submission. (And often while the images are uploading, I am using that time to accomplish other tasks). Don't think this is just for blogs either! Many print publications now use TBL, making the whole process of submission a piece.of.cake.

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Screen shot 2012-03-21 at 4.03.30 PM

I use Two Bright Lights for two reasons: To affirm my couple's hard work in their wedding or engagement session and to expose a wider audience to my business, myself and my work. Simple as that. I absolutely LOVE sharing with couples that their wedding as been featured, and they absolutely love it too! By making it so easy to submit to publications, Two Bright Lights has helped me make this a part of my workflow for every session and wedding. Does it mean that every session gets published? No. But I've made a commitment to give every couple a great experience, and part of that experience is sharing their wedding with others and affirming their hard work!

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Screen shot 2012-03-21 at 4.15.38 PM

When I first started using Two Bright Lights, I didn't take the time to research the publications that I wanted to submit too. Instead I just picked any old blog and hit submit. I would definitely NOT recommend doing this. Instead, take the time to research and look through all of the editorial partners in TBL to see what publications are looking for and if your work or your clients wedding is a good fit. You'll waste a lot less time if you do the this simple step ahead of time. I have a Google Doc where I've written down the various publications I want to submit too under several categories (New England blogs, etc) This helps me keep track of where I've submitted before and what blogs service brides in my region of the country. Again, this simple step of pre-planning has helped make the process of submitting much easier. And when something is easy for you to do, chances are you'll do it again and again!

Remember when submitting your content that the more information you can provide to an editor the better. Vendors, background story, correct spelling of names and dates, etc. The less work that the editor has to do the better. Also, take care with the images that you select. Editors want to see details, a few portraits, environment shots, and other images that tell a complete story of a day or a session. You image selection also depends a lot on the type of blog or publication you are submitting too, so make sure to keep that in the back of your mind.

Finally, if a blog or publication has accepted your work, make sure you say thank you! This seems like such a simple thing, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life this step can quickly get overlooked. Send a thank you email, tweet or Facebook message. Retweet their tweets. Share on Facebook. Post on your client's wall. Share, share, share. And if you can send a Thank You card, even better. (A blog I submit too has sent out thank you notes to ME for sharing a client's wedding or session!!) It's the little things that make a huge difference and just another way to show your appreciation!

Two Bright Lights has helped me book weddings, reach audience I might not otherwise, as well as give my brides a great experience! It's part of my workflow that I could not live without!

If you have any more questions about Two Bright Lights or submitting your work, share them in the comments below! I'm happy to answer! Happy Blogging!

Featured: Destination Inspirations and Heart Love Weddings

Today I am off to Concord to attend an all day workshop with Justin & Mary. To say I am excited it BEYOND an understatement:) So while I am off learning all about my business I thought I'd share with you a few recent features! First up is a lovely little feature from Heart Love Weddings. On Saturday I got a little surprise in my in-box from Alexandra that she picked one of my images for the Saturday Snapshot. I am happy that this image from Josiah and Allison's Love Recaptured was picked! A favorite of mine for sure:)

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Next up is Jared and Kristen's beach-y Block Island wedding featured on Destination Inspirations! This is a GREAT resource for those brides out there planning destination weddings near and far!

Featured: Beantown Bride

Another feature for Deborah Zoe Photo clients:)! I am so excited that two couples have been recently featured on Beantown Bride recently. If you haven't check it out, Beantown Bride is a great resource for those of you planning a wedding in Massachusetts. They also have great wedding tips and advice for all your brides out there! Cynthia and Mark's Southie engagement at Castle Island was featured here.

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While Dan and Nicole's classic Cape Cod wedding was featured here.

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Thank you so much Brittany and the Beantown Bride team for sharing these couples with your readers! Enjoy!

Ask Anything: Two Bright Lights, Wedding Questionnaire, And Framing

I've received a bunch of questions lately so I thought I'd compile them into a blog post. Hopefully these questions and answers can help you! Enjoy!

Cindy asked: How do you decide what to frame and what not to frame? I have taken some pictures of a building for example and it always look like I just chopped off part of the building...how do you make it not look like that, or am I too critical of my own photos?

Well, first I think we are always WAY more critical of our own work. We know what we've put into that image, what we could have done differently. We know the mistakes that we've made and all the effort and emotion that goes into making that image. We are always pushing ourselves as photographers to be better so it's no surprise that we are often overly critical of our work. Sometimes it's a good idea to take a step back. To leave the image for a few hours or days and then come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh outlook. Often what we thought was horrible, is in fact, kind of amazing.

When your framing subjects go with your gut. Do keep in mind the rule of thirds. And do keep in mind how you truncate an arm, leg or face in a photograph. That being said throw caution to the wind and photograph the subject in a way that speaks to you. If you try to photograph the subject exactly how you think someone ELSE might photograph that same subject you'll fail. The image won't work. A successful image is one part technical skill and 99 part your own personal style. Shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Photograph that building a 100 times if that is what it takes to find the one frame that speaks to you.

Jamie and Leslie asked about Two Bright Lights: Would you mind explaining a bit how it works? How do you notify a vendor they have images up there? Do they accept styled shoots or is it only for weddings?

Let me just say that Two Bright Lights has been one of the BEST investments I have made for my business so far. Two Bright Lights is an online service that connects you and your images with wedding blogs all across the world. At a small yearly fee, the value of this service is hard to beat.

After I have blogged a wedding, I'll pick 1-100 of my favorite images from that wedding (or engagement or styled shoot) and upload them to TBL. From there I will attach any vendors (I provide the vendor information) to those images. With the email that I provide to TBL for each vendor, TBL will contact those vendors saying that I uploaded those images and will be sending them to blogs. Easy peasy! From there I can create inspiration boards or slide shows that I can send to blogs. I can pick the blogs I want to submit to, and I will often reference TBL to find what editors are currently looking for. With hardly any back work on my end, TBL is a HUGE time saver when you are looking to submit to blogs.

Emily, who is about to shoot her first wedding, asked: What's your interview process usually like?  Do you have a standard set of questions you go through with your couples?

About one to two months before the wedding date I'll email the couple to discuss their wedding day time line and also send along a questionnaire to the couple. This is an idea that I picked up from Justin & Mary and it has been one of the KEY components to a fantastic wedding day experience. I really don't know what I did before using a questionnaire like this!. It is SO helpful in figuring out what your couple is looking for from their wedding photographer and gives you an idea what the day will look like. I give them space to write down their top family formal combinations, any special details that they want me to know about, and other various information that is important to the day. If this brings up any questions, I am able to contact the couple. Come the wedding day, there are no questions, I know exactly how the day will look and I know all the little details about their day. It is SO helpful to the relationship with your clients and giving them a great experience on their wedding day.

 

The best way to quickly get in touch with me is via email: deborahzparker@mac.com. I also have a Formspring account where you can ask questions if that's more your style and of course you can always chat me up on Facebook or Twitter. Keep them coming!