Elopement Photographer Courses – Which One Is Best?

March 3, 2021

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The elopement industry is a rapidly growing market, and in the last couple of years there have been a few elopement photographer courses launched for photographers looking to niche into this area of wedding photography.

Since I only offer workshops and 1:1 coaching, and don’t run an online course myself, I decided to do a comparison of the two major online elopement photographer courses. I’ve taken both of them so in this post I’ll break down the pros and cons of each one, as well as who each one is best suited for.

Who Sells Online Elopement Photographer Courses?

It’s a bit of a David & Goliath story when you look at the two leaders in the elopement photography course online space.

Adventure Instead Academy is the education branch of the powerhouse elopement brand Adventure Instead founded by Maddie Mae. If you’ve heard of adventure elopements, you’ve heard of Maddie Mae. She’s a marketing wiz and has built a brand that is known worldwide. She created a business that grew to a point that she was able to expand and hire a team of photographers and admin support to work under the Adventure Instead brand, allowing her to travel the world photographing couples in epic locations.

Boss It BRAVE is the brainchild of Steph Zakas, an elopement photographer from the US who has built a thriving elopement brand based out of Iceland. Steph is living proof that you don’t need a huge social following or have a large support team working for you to build a hugely successful business. Even though she does shoot destination elopements, her brand really stands out in the competitive market in Iceland. What differentiates her in my eyes is that she’s created a brand that knows what it stands for, and isn’t afraid to offer something different to what everyone else is doing. And she’s booking her clients consistently at packages from $10k upwards.

Elope It BRAVE Course – Boss It BRAVE by Steph Zakas

Course Overview

When so many photographers will willingly shoot in Iceland for free, how has Steph Zakas built an elopement photography business that consistently books clients at rates that are more than double most of her competitors? One of Steph’s “superpowers” as she calls it is knowing how to create a brand around her strengths that speaks to the desires of her ideal clients. In the course she focuses on how you can turn your existing skills and knowledge into a thriving elopement brand that stands out from the crowded “sea of generic”.

How long does the course take?

Elope it BRAVE has 27 video modules, averaging around 11 minutes in length.

Favourite things about the Elope It BRAVE course

Not everyone who wants to shoot elopements wants to shoot only elopements, or solely adventure elopements and Steph addresses this in this course. She champions creating a brand that is unique to you and your “superpowers” and every part of the course is about guiding you through a process that will help you focus what you can offer that will make you stand out from your competition. This isn’t a prescriptive formula but encourages you to build your brand, marketing and workflows based on your strengths and on who your ideal client is.

Least favourite things about this course

One of the unique selling points for this course is Steph’s alternative approach at creating elopement packages and pricing based on selling a bespoke service rather than a preconceived package. I would have loved to have gained a little more insight into how she creates and sells bespoke packages for up to $20k to her clients rather than having a fixed packages structure. Having only ever offered packages based on the amount of time spent with a client, it’s hard to imagine creating packages in any other way.

Pros

  • Videos are short and to-the-point
  • Puts more weight on how to create a brand that is in alignment with your values
  • Encourages independent thinking with the help of a framework rather than a “do what I did” approach

Cons

  • Currently no workbook
  • Not professionally filmed
  • Doesn’t give you all the answers – you’ll have to figure some stuff out for yourself

Who would benefit most from taking this course?

Whilst new photographers will still learn a lot from this course, I think this course is ideal for photographers who have already been in business for a few years, have a basic knowledge of websites and marketing but who are looking to add more focus on smaller weddings and elopements to their existing brand or start to niche down. The things that you’ll learn in the course can be applied to any kind of business niche.

Course price

The course costs $1700 USD for lifetime access.

> Learn more about Elope It Brave

Final Thoughts

If you want to create a brand that is unique without having to completely start from scratch, stand out from your competition and focus on delivering a high value service that consistently books your ideal clients, then this is the course for you.

How to sign up

>> Learn more and sign up here: Elope It BRAVE <<

Elopement Photographer Course – Adventure Instead Academy

Course Overview

The Elopement Photographer Course by Maddie Mae from Adventure Instead is a ‘how to build a photography business 101’ course with everything you need to know to go from zero to getting booked.

How long does the course take?

The course is made up of 26 videos, most averaging around 30 minutes in length. The course comes with a 90-day action plan and workbook.

Favourite things about the Elopement Photographer Course

When I was first starting out as a photographer, I was learning as I went, putting the pieces together on how to build a business. This course is a blueprint on how to build an elopement photography business from scratch, based on the experiences of one of the most well-known elopement photographers in the industry. If you are new to photography and business, and you are overwhelmed with where to start, just follow Maddie’s 90-day action plan.

Least favourite things about this course

As someone with an existing elopement business (and short attention span), I often found myself losing concentration in the long videos as Maddie talks a lot about her own experiences and story. While this might be interesting for someone new to photography and elopements, for me I wanted the videos to be more to-the-point. Maddie clearly knows a lot about marketing, sales and buyer psychology, and what she teaches in many of the modules, such as how to price elopements, the sales process and workflows clearly work well for Maddie Mae’s business model. But I didn’t feel that she addresses the fact this way of working may not work for everyone depending on how they want to run their business or who their target market is.

Pros

  • No previous knowledge required
  • Workbook and checklists
  • Professionally filmed & edited
  • Lots of bonus resources

Cons

  • Videos could be shorter and more to the point
  • Mainly focuses on marketing
  • Heavily focused on the adventure elopement niche

Who would benefit most from taking this course?

Whilst I did learn a few tips and tricks from Maddie’s workflows in this course that I integrated into my business, as an already established photographer, I didn’t need to cover so much that I didn’t already know. I would therefore say that this course would benefit photographers who are early in their career, don’t have an existing knowledge of marketing, and are particularly interested in the adventure elopement niche as their primary focus.

Course price

The course costs $2400 USD for lifetime access.

Final Thoughts

If you want to know exactly how Maddie’s business is built and you want to create a very similar business model, this course can help you do that.

How to sign up

Learn more and sign up here: Adventure Instead: Elopement Photographer Course

Adventure Instead Academy vs Boss it Brave – A Cookie Analogy

Let’s compare these courses as if they are both recipes for cookies.

In my opinion, the Adventure Instead Academy course is like a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. You’ll get the ingredients list and the method that tells you how to bake them. Everyone follows the same recipe, and most people come out at the end with a pretty similar result. Some people might make some small changes to the recipe to suit their taste, but the recipe is there as a complete recipe for anyone that wants to follow it exactly as it is. If you’ve never baked cookies before, this is definitely the easiest option as you can’t really go wrong. There is a chance many others will have baked the same cookies as you, so your cookies may not stand out from the crowd as much as you may want, but at least you’ll have cookies which is more than what you started with.

Elope it BRAVE, on the other hand, is more like being given a method for baking the cookies but instead of getting a full ingredients list, you’re given a few basics that you need and except this time you have to choose the flavours you want. Some people may still choose to bake chocolate chip cookies, but some people might choose to make rum raisin while others could end up with gluten-free almond and raspberry cookies. Everyone will have cookies at the end, but they will all have very different cookies, and each will stand out for their own distinct flavour choices.

Which Course Should I Buy?

Both of these online courses are excellent, and both have their own strengths and weaknesses. So much depends on your existing experience, where you are in your photography journey and what you goals are for your business. If you decide to purchase an online course to help build your elopement photography business, it should be one that aligns with your own business goals and values.

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