Destination Wedding Photographers Share Tips
Interested in adding destination wedding photography to your offerings? Wedding photography is tricky enough—you have to deal with emotional clients, lots of moving parts and very tight schedules. "Destination" weddings add even more unique challenges to the mix, but two PPA photographers share some of their strategies for success.
Building awareness of your destination photography services comes down to good communication, both online and word of mouth. "The best thing I did to build my business was to network. Most of my inquiries come from referrals," notes Kenny Kim, an internationally traveled destination wedding photographer. He even invests in staying a few extra days at the various locations so he can network and cultivate relationships with the locals.
Jessica Frey, a wedding photographer and military wife who has traveled across the U.S. for shoots, also suggests building relationships with vendors at the various locations. "I'm now listed as a featured vendor at two of my previous destination wedding venues, even though I'm not local," she says.
Along with networking, don't forget the simple action of letting prospects know you travel. Jessica's website contact form states clearly: "I love to travel and would be honored to travel to wherever you are getting married!" She also says to specify international or domestic availability on your website, social media pages, blog and everyday conversations about your business. For instance, while shooting a wedding in Mackinac Island, MI, she found that the guests were amazed she had flown in from California. So she mentioned that she loved visiting their state…and that she'd be honored to return anytime.
Another big challenge in shooting destination weddings is the fact that every location has different rules and restrictions. Going international for a wedding can even mean getting a visa or work permit before entering the country, as Kenny has experienced. "You even have to research the type of plane you'll be taking so that you can pack your gear properly and safely," he adds. After all, the last thing you want to do is stress out your bride if something goes wrong. That's why Kenny expects and plans for the worst-case scenarios. "Having a backup plan is key to making sure everything goes smoothly."
Since you often don't meet a destination wedding couple until the day before (or day of) the big event, creating the necessary rapport requires special effort. Kenny and Jessica both use videos on their websites as a type of first introduction, and they use Skype to meet clients face to face (virtually). "Normally, when I actually meet them for the first time, clients treat me like an old friend they haven't seen in a long time," says Kenny about the effect of good communication.
Jessica adds that it's important to maintain that contact during the days leading up to the wedding. She makes a point of texting or emailing her bride that her plane arrived safely and telling her to call if she needs anything.
When at the locale, Kenny holds an engagement session (if possible) to help build up the relationship and trust. He and Jessica like to attend the rehearsal dinner and other organized activities, too, because it tends to lead to a more relaxed atmosphere on the wedding day. "The more time I spend with the wedding party, the better I get to know them and know who the other important members are," explains Kenny. "This educates me on who I should be focused on capturing during the wedding day." (Plus, he knows their names!)
And That's Just the Beginning
From the correct pricing to balancing your schedules and workflow, there are a lot of steps to take to create a successful business in this field. And remember that destination weddings require extra days away from your home and family. So is it for you?
"I know that photographing destination weddings looks and sounds dreamy," says Kenny. "But the reality is that it requires a lot of time and effort. Careful planning and good time management are essential in becoming a successful destination wedding photographer."
Do you have any tips of your own to share? Add them to the comments below.
Learn more from Kenny Kim of Kenny Kim Photography by joining him on his photo workshop trip to Italy—the PhotoVenture Tour—November 6 – 12, 2012! http://photoventuretours.com
Learn more from Jessica Frey of Jessica Frey Photography at http://jessicafreyphotography.com/.
ALL IMAGES © KENNY KIM PHOTOGRAPHY