Travel is a huge part of my job, last year I made the flight to Mexico 11 times (by year I mean the winter season). That is just Cancun – that doesn’t include the trips to Jamaica, Louisiana or the flight from Cancun to Cabo. I travel a TON. I LOVE shooting destination weddings and it has become a huge part of the JFY image – which leads me to the topic of this blog post! I get asked so often about pricing, booking and the logistics of destination weddings. So at first I was going to do a video blog, but then I realized I would rather sit in my PJ’s, no makeup or hair done and just write it out. So here goes.
What many photographers and fans don’t realize is that the vast majority I would say 85% of my destination weddings I have photographed by myself. Only recently have I started bringing fellow photographers with me to second shoot. Destination weddings are by no means a vacation and are more work than a regular wedding at home in Canada. How can that be? Well I am not accustomed to working in 45 degree heat. The sun rises and sets in different areas, you are limited to the resort the day of your wedding and you are forced to make do with whatever you are given. It is not always easy to cram 12 people into a group setting, take photos on the beach without getting a speedo in the background, or help a bride not faint due to heat.
I photograph about 5-10 destination weddings a year, and I started off being the ‘affordable destination wedding photographer’. I priced myself incredibly cheap, and just wanted my travel covered, essentially I gave all my shooting and editing time for free. This is how I started as I have a strong belief in portfolio building before commanding a large value for your work. I photographed 6 weddings at a low budget. I loved it. I love traveling by myself and I enjoyed the time to recharge each and every week during my off days. Charging such a low amount is not for everyone, you need to take into account if you will be losing business while you are away, do you need child care, do you have to take time off work from a day job, are you paying your second photographer? There are many variables that can only be decided by you, the person being hired to photograph. When I started I had no financial loss or gain – I broke even. I saw the value in building my portfolio so I worked for very cheap and strived to give my clients the absolute best.
You need to show clients that you are worth being brought all the way from Canada. Bottom line on pricing: price what you feel is fair for the time you are putting in.
To consider when pricing:
Are you losing money? (child care, not booking sessions)
Will the positives outweigh the negatives?
Will this help my portfolio?
Show your potential clientele that you can work in a variety of lighting situations, that you can shoot under extremely limited time, that you are organized and have back up plans.
The logistics of shooting a wedding are hard – the sun is going to set so quickly on you – it is your responsibility as a photographer to know this. You need to have an action plan for your couple or you risk the potential of have 60 minutes for all of your bridal shots. You need to think about weight limits for flights and the gear you are taking. Become familiar with rules and regulations of the country you’re photographing in. Where are you going to go when it rains? What lenses should you bring? You are going to need to bring lighting equipment, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT.
What you may forget to bring but will need:
Batteries – be weary as they can be confiscated at customs so don’t bring too many.
Cleaning kit – sand will get into everything, be sure to clean your equipment.
Zip Lock Bags – the humidity will fog your lenses which can be a real damper if you’re trying to take photos
Power Converter – check into the power outlets that you’re going to have at your resort, you may not be able to plug your battery charger directly into the wall
List of Serial Numbers for you gear – don’t risk losing your gear, or customs wondering where you purchased it
Diffuser/Reflector – comes in handy for those incredibly sunny days
Destination weddings are not easy. They can be very stressful. Be prepared for pure and utter exhaustion, followed by an insane rush of inspiration.