Rebecca Crumley is the Photo Director at TheKnot.com and sifts through thousands of images daily to bring you the best ideas and photography in the world of weddings.
Originally from Richmond, VA, Rebecca calls Brooklyn, NY home and is lucky enough to work at The Knot's headquarters in Soho. (I've visited several times and it's a hive of amazingly talented and busy people.)
Rebecca is also a photographer (has a degree in Communication Arts/Photography) and draws on her photographic knowledge daily.
Here is our interview, for you:
01. What is the best thing about your job? What is the most challenging?
Two best things! First, the simple fact that my job as photo director at TheKnot.com is to look at photos all day. It's so inspiring to see how photographers approach their shoots and the creativity that comes out of it. Second, I love the relationships I've developed. I'm lucky enough to have friends in every city through the weddings we've featured. It's very humbling to think how many talented people I have met through TheKnot.com.
The challenging part is the volume and always thinking three steps ahead. I've learned it's important to budget your time wisely and to be ready for anything to land on my lap at any given point.
I also have to admit how exciting it is telling photographers we plan to feature their work. Sometimes you can really feel the excitement through email, and it's so satisfying to know we can help businesses with that editorial exposure. I love finding new photographers and spreading the love!
02. I'm sure you've gotten lots of ideas for your own future wedding. Is it something you think about or are you tired of the whole business?
After six years of photo editing weddings, I'm surprisingly not tired of weddings at all! But at the same time, if I found myself engaged tomorrow, I'd be really overwhelmed with what to do. I suppose my first step is to find that dream husband of mine... then I'll worry about the wedding!
03. What are your recent favorite finds for weddings?
I think it's all in a personalized venue and incredible environment. As a guest at a wedding, I love being taken somewhere that I wouldn't normally get to see and experience. One of my dear friends married earlier this year and in lieu of a fancy rehearsal dinner, she rented a large house in the country for a few days -with a pool, area for campfire, animals on the property. It was so charming and the time that we had together for a few days will always be one of my favorite memories -especially having time with our generation, the parents and the new babies from friends. Another friend married in her parents' village in Greece a few years ago. I never would have imagined I'd be part of such a unique and cultural experience. The fact that we as her best friends all got to be there together was incredible.
From Rebecca: Photos from a day-after shoot in Hawaii. Environmental portraits win me over, period. Dramatic settings make for insanely awesome photos. photos © Stephanie Williams
04. Describe the sweetest (or most outrageous) wedding you've seen so far.
Honestly, they are all on the same level to me. A lot of money to one person is pocket change to others. I'm just looking at photos, what makes a wedding sweet is the moment of the day! I do contribute to the Wedding Obsessions blog. We highlight an idea that impresses us and new wedding news. It's fun writing for the brides, so this is where we call out the "wow" factors that matter to us.
It's not outrageous to say 15,000 easily. I'll scroll through blogs like slot machines roll out! I also like to joke that one day the Olympic committee will add a new category: The Pictage Olympics.. in which, I tend to compete.
06. What makes a great photo submission?
Taking the time to send the right photos. The average submission sends too many shots of the couple, and not enough of what we're actually looking for -the details! It's also really important to provide image variety, so that some shots are wide scene setters and some are clean tight product shots. Rather than just pulling random images, take the time to imagine you are designing a magazine layout and how the photos all work together. Also, each image needs to have an editorial point, so make sure every photo has something to say.
From Rebecca: Décor that doubles as favors = eco-friendly, creative, and budget-conscious.
photo © Jules Bianchi
Once I opened a submission that had a big knife in it!!! I didn't know what to think (passive-aggresive anger?!). Turns out, the photographer had mistakenly slipped it in with about 10 submissions. He said he'd been wondering where his butcher knife went!
08. What is the worst thing a vendor or photographer can do to get your attention?
Sending one image of a couple and asking if we want to see more photos. We're pretty lenient and flexible on ways to receive weddings submissions. As a vendor, take some time to do it right and provide us with the information we need. One image of a couple is a waste of time for both parties. You can find submission information here.
From Rebecca: The color red is so bold, I love seeing it in layouts and the attention to DIY. There’s also just something about the simplicity and elegance of a single-flower bouquet of dahlias. © Tanja Lippert
09. It seems the trend lately is for brides to create blog or magazine-worthy weddings for exposure. What do you think of this?
It certainly makes my job easier that brides are taking the extra attention to detail. But at the same time, I hope they're still taking the time to realize it's a special point in their lives. It isn't a media event, it's your wedding.
10. What is your typical day like?
It's all about multi-tasking! I walk to work almost every day with two important accessories: my iPod and my Blackberry. I'm pretty much at my desk from 9am - 6/7/8/9pm-ish. The time in between is some combination of photo editing, photo researching, and meetings. I'll sit at my desk and zone out to music when editing and organizing weddings. I've recently started reserving two hours a week to work on non-pressing projects. During this time, I'll do blog research, image organization, update contacts, etc. It is beneficial to continually develop efficiency.
From Rebecca: Katy & Daniel are from our winter national issue of The Knot, shot by Bonnie Berry Photography
11. Describe how you came to be a photo editor.
First, I wanted to be a photo curator. I always loved both photography and museums, so it seemed like a good combination of my two favorite things. I did some incredible internships and worked part-time for a few art galleries and world-renowned museums, but saw how the magic of it all can wear off quickly.
As I realized this, I was also working as a custom black and white printer for Dementi Studio in Richmond. They're a family-run company that's been in business for almost 100 years. The brothers that founded the company worked for the local paper and were able to retain the rights to their images over the years. Essentially, the company has thousands of vintage negatives of street intersections and historic moments in Richmond and it was my job to make archival prints of them. I enjoyed getting to know thte collection of images, and how the photos were distributed locally in Richmond. (Sidenote: I sued to get freaked out printing 11x14 images of Robert E. Lee -like his ghost was watching me as I "burned in" the blown out highlights of his white hair!) Long story short, I was able to work with them on a photo book of "then and now" scenes in Richmond and really loved the publishing experience. It's fun to collaborate on a big project then have a completed product afterward.
Also, when I was a teenager I spent a few summers in Maine and fell in love with the Maine Photographic Workshops. I really admired their structure and had dreamed of becoming one of their summer staffers. So after a few years at Dementi, I attended their annual job fair interview weekend, and low and behold was hired. I took that summer off to work as printing assistant there. It was incredibly inspiring to work alongside photographers I'd always admired and the unique opportunities (like having lunch with Arnold Newman). It opened my eyes to making your goals happen and living your life as you want it to be.
I realized that if I wanted to pursue publishing with the goal of photo editing, I had to move to New York. I wasn't immediate that things fell into place, but I've been so happy to be a part of the team at The Knot. It is such a progressive company and has grown in many ways in my time here. It's exciting to see your colleagues on national TV, your CEO ring the NASDAQ bell, and the loyalty from the community generated on TheKnot.com.
From Rebecca: My most recent favorite cake! I stumbled on last week and found a way to sneak it into one of our upcoming issues of The Knot. Cakes can make or break a wedding submission for us. They make such a strong visual element in a layout. So many of the details are floral or stationery-based, so a beautiful cake goes a long way in a photo editor’s eyes!
12. If you hadn't become a photo editor, what would you be?
In another life, I would love to be an archeologist. I remember a field trip visiting Alexandria, Virginia. An archeologist told us how she found George Washington's toothbrush and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Plus, I think it would be fun to dig in dirt every day. Or also in the exhibits department of a museum -your job would be to decide which paintings go where and how to incorporate signage. I love the vinyl lettering they use!
Thank you so much, Rebecca! I appreciate all your hard work so I can look at quality magazines and websites. Dear Readers: please leave a sweet comment below.
* I want to point out that whenever Rebecca uses the term "editing," she is not referring to photoshopping, color correcting, etc. "Editing" outside of the portrait world refers to choosing images: "I like this one... I don't like that one."
** Rebecca's headshot is by Mel Barlow.
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