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When I started my journey as a wedding photographer, I thought that being paid to travel somewhere and photograph a destination wedding would be just about as awesome as it could get. It was my dream to become a destination wedding photographer, and it’s a dream I know that a lot of you share.
Within my first year of business, I’d booked my first destination wedding, and now I shoot a number of them each year. I often hear photographers asking in online communities how they can get in to the market, so here are my top 5 tips based on my experiences:
How To Book Destination Weddings
Referrals Are Your Best Friend
Getting a referral, whatever stage you are in your business, is amazing. My first destination wedding booking was a referral from a previous local wedding. I’d developed a great relationship with the couple both before and on the wedding day itself. The sister of the groom was already engaged, saw the relationship I had with the couple, how I worked on the day and loved the pictures that I delivered. So a month after that wedding, I got an email from her asking if I would consider flying with them to capture their destination wedding. Of course I said YES! No matter how stressful a wedding day is, how challenging a guest can be or how tired you are, always try to remember that you are a walking advertisement for your business, long before anyone sees the pictures, and always treat everyone with kindness and respect. People notice.
Make It Easy For Couples To Book You
Have you ever looked at a menu or price list and just been overwhelmed by all the options? One of the biggest challenges a couple planning their wedding faces is overwhelm. I’ve found that having a pricing brochure that includes my travel fee as part of the package amount makes it much simpler for the couple. They can see exactly what they need to pay you, and know that you’ll take care of all of your travel arrangements without worrying about how much extra it will cost.
Blog About Your Own Adventures
A number of my destination wedding bookings have come after I’ve blogged about my own travels. With a good knowledge of SEO, you can turn your holiday photos into 2 or 3 informative blog posts about destination weddings in the location you’ve just visited.
Should You Shoot For Free?
We’ve all done it, myself included. A referral in a Facebook group or a “Bucket List” section on your website. In the desperation to book a dream location, we offer our services for free in return for our expenses being covered. But here’s the thing. Most of us are aware of the phrase “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. And people can be wary of that. Unless a couple is super budget conscious, they might view the person with the high prices as being of a higher quality, so by offering your services on the cheap, you might be giving them the impression that you aren’t worth that higher price tag. By offering lower rates or just charging travel only, you are also opening yourself up to couples who don’t value what you are offering them. This can quickly lead to you feeling like you’ve been taken advantage of.
In my own experience, any time I’ve discounted for a destination, I’ve come away feeling like I haven’t got what I wanted from the situation, often resenting my decision and not having the images I wanted to share.
Build A Destination Portfolio
A lot of people are familiar with the phrase “Show what you want to shoot”. If you want to shoot something other than local church weddings, you need to show on your portfolio that you can do that. I’ve said above that I don’t think you should shoot a destination wedding for free. As well as the reasons above, if you are shooting a real wedding for free, you’ve got no creative control over how the day looks. And if you are donating your time, you want to to know that you’re going to have pictures that you want to show. Here are some of the best ways you can build a destination portfolio without working for free:
– Connect with local photographers and do a “shoot swap”
– Connect with local vendors for a styled shoot
– Approach a random couple who you think would be a good fit and offer them a free mini shoot
– Attend destination workshops or portfolio building shoots
– Perfect the “self-timer tripod selfie”
> Find out how you can get cheap dresses for styled shoots
If you want to build your destination portfolio, come to the Austria Alps Retreat. Join us for hiking, learning and portfolio building in the stunning Tyrolean countryside.