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5 Things to Keep in Mind When Photographing a Destination Wedding

Marianne Stenger
12th June 2019

The number of couples having overseas weddings is on the rise. If you’ve been asked to photograph a destination wedding, you’re probably feeling both excited and a bit apprehensive.

There are different reasons why a couple might want to tie the knot overseas, from wanting a more exotic location to limiting the guest list in order to save money. Whatever the case may be, photographing a destination wedding brings some additional challenges such as navigating an unfamiliar country, transporting equipment, and figuring out how much to charge.

With that said, it’s also well worth the extra effort, as it can help you expand your portfolio, give you more creative freedom, and is bound to be an unforgettable experience.

So whether you’re completely new to destination wedding photography or need a quick refresher before an upcoming job, here are some important things to keep in mind.

1. Calculate your costs

Figuring out how much to charge for destination wedding photography can be tricky because there are so many hidden costs and things you may not need to consider when you’re shooting a wedding in your hometown.

In addition to your normal rates and fees for wedding photography, you should calculate how much time you will spend travelling to your destination and make an estimate of how much you will spend on things like visas, flights and rental cars, as well as meals and accommodation on your shoot days.

Depending on the size of the wedding, you may also need a second shooter or photographer’s assistant, and this person’s costs will also need to be covered.

2. Thoroughly research your destination

Having a clear understanding of both the location you’ll be travelling to and the venue where the wedding will be held is important for a few reasons.

Firstly, you need to know what kind of weather to expect and what sort of lighting conditions you’ll be working in. This will help you pack the right gear and protective casings, and also make sure you’re aware of any venue restrictions or potential safety hazards.

Secondly, researching the venue will help you to identify ideal photography spots and put together a shot list. For example, you’ll want to have a few different options at or near the venue for shooting must-have photos such as the family group shots and bride and groom portraits.

3. Take steps to protect yourself and your gear

Once you’ve researched your destination, you’ll be in a better position to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your gear.

Since you’ll be travelling with thousands of pounds worth of photography equipment, start by checking whether your insurance policy covers professional use while you’re abroad. You may need to purchase an additional policy that includes general liability insurance and will cover your camera or other equipment in case it’s damaged, lost or stolen.

Another important step you should take towards protecting yourself is to draft a destination wedding contract. It should outline what was agreed up and include specific clauses that will protect both you and your clients should anything go wrong.

4. Create a gear checklist

Creating a gear checklist before you go will help you make sure you bring all the necessary equipment and essential backups.

If you’re accustomed to shooting weddings, you probably already know what to bring in terms of cameras, lenses, tripods, speed lights, diffusers, memory cards and batteries. But creating a checklist can give you a clear overview of what you need to bring and what you might be able to hire at your destination.

A checklist can also come in handy at the end of your trip, because you’ll be able to check each item off the list as you pack it away and make sure nothing is missing or damaged. Also, keep in mind that it’s best to bring your essential gear as carry on. This way, even if your luggage goes missing, you’ll be able to shoot the wedding as planned.

5. Arrive ahead of time

If possible, you should plan to arrive at the venue a day or two before the actual wedding, as this will give you time to get acclimatised and meet the main people you’ll be working with.

Arriving ahead of time also means you’ll have a chance to scope out the area, get a few test shots at the wedding venue, and purchase any last-minute items you may have forgotten such as power converters or extra cables.

Finally, remember that shooting a destination wedding isn’t something most photographers get to do every day, so have fun with it and take the above precautions to make sure it will be memorable for all the right reasons.

Looking for more tips and advice on how to photograph a wedding, set your prices, and manage client expectations? Be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Wedding Photography.