Destination Wedding Photography: Top Tips & Tricks

Is your couple planning a white Winterland wedding in Iceland or a tropical beach wedding in Barbados? If your answer is yes, then don’t forget to make the necessary preparations for your travel and photography. Between booking a destination wedding, preparing to photograph in another location, getting on a plane, and photographing your couple’s wedding, there’s ultimately a lot of planning that goes into documenting a destination wedding. From keeping the destination country’s general laws and COVID restrictions in mind to packing the right equipment – this blog offers a basic checklist of things you can do once you book a destination wedding photography gig.

12 Destination Wedding Photography Tips

a couple standing by a lake in their wedding dress holding umbrellas while it is rainingImage Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @melissafechapmanphotography

1. Calculate Your Expenses

Although your couple will most likely be paying for your travel and accommodation, knowing the amount will help you in terms of pricing your destination wedding photography package. Discuss this with your couple and get a rough idea about how much they will be spending on you. Also, consider whether it’s peak or off-season for weddings in the chosen destination. If it’s the latter, then you could also offer a discount. However, this is not mandatory.

Related Read: 4 Quick Tips To Booking Destination Weddings

2. Apply For a Work Visa (If Needed)

Many countries demand work visas from professionals visiting for work. So if you have booked an international wedding photography assignment, apply for a work visa or any other permit you may require well on time. You never know how long it can take for the visa to get approved, so it’s best if you don’t take any risks when it comes to travel documents.

3. Make Copies of Your ID and Passport

Get copies of your passport and IDs ready. Make a separate set and pack those in a different bag than the one with your originals. Leave a set at home, and email the copies to yourself to use if you misplace them while traveling. Better safe than sorry!

4. Medical Check

Infographic stating apply for visas, research medical requirements and check venue restrictions ahead

If required, get a COVID test and keep the original report and its copy in your bag. If possible, get yourself vaccinated for COVID as well as any other country-specific vaccinations you may require for certain destinations, especially those with a prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases. Prepare a first aid box with all the necessary medicines. To be extra safe, ensure that it’s legal to bring those medicines into the destination country.

5. Check for Venue Restrictions

Some venues don’t allow photographers that are not on their preferred list. You could verify this with your couple or check whether their chosen wedding venue has any such rules in place. Additionally, if you have access to any photographs, familiarize yourself with the venue to get an idea about how you will be documenting the wedding.

6. Check Your Insurance

You might have liability or equipment insurance at home, but many such policies only protect you in your own country. Ask your insurance agent for information on extending your cover internationally or buy new insurance that would cover you in your new destination.

7. Create a List of Your Equipment

Make a list of all the photography gear you are packing. Write down their serial numbers as this will help you file your insurance claim, in case you have to. Also, get your gear registered online to keep it organized. This could also increase the chances of it being returned to you if it goes missing. Registering your equipment online will also help you at customs.

Suggested Read: The Complete Wedding Photography Equipment Guide

8. Pack Your Gear Carefully

Infographic stating pack your gear carefully and keep essential equipment in a carry-on

Never pack your most important photography gear in your check-in luggage. If it gets lost during transit or there’s a delay, you could miss documenting some not-to-be-missed pre-wedding photographs or even the whole wedding. Consider packing your main equipment such as two camera bodies, lenses, memory cards, chargers, power converters, and spare batteries in a camera travel bag that you can carry with you inside the airplane.

You can pack your non-essential gear such as tripods, external flashes, light modifiers, and any other cables in your luggage. Though these items might be essential for photography, you would still be able to take photos if they don’t reach you on time.

Related Read: Turning A Gear Bag Catastrophe Into Award-Winning Photos

9. Make Your Travel Arrangements

Your clients may not be aware of the arrangements you’d need for your equipment, so discuss the possibility of making your own travel arrangements. You could tell them that you would feel more confident about the safety of your gear simply by making the travel arrangements yourself. Additionally, while it may take up more of your time, arranging your travel will also allow you to gain more travel miles.

10. Enable International Calling

Get international calling activated on your network. This will not only be cost-effective but would also ensure smoother communication with your friends and family back home and even your couple. A poor network can be problematic for communication in a foreign country and might create unnecessary hurdles in executing your photography plans.

11. Research the Destination & Unique Photo Spots

Infographic stating research the destination ahead of time and prepare a shot wish list

Even before you begin packing your bags or making any other travel-related arrangements, read as much as you can about your couple’s wedding destination. For inspiration, look for images online. Reach the destination a couple of days before the wedding to eliminate chances of any surprises on the final day. Scout the wedding site a day before and look for perfect wedding photo spots.

12. Prepare a Plan to Stay Connected With the Couple

After you book a destination wedding, sit with the couple or email them your plan of action. Discuss your arrival, shoot schedule, and exchange alternative contact information with them. If your primary phone services don’t work in the destination country by any chance, you must have a plan to still stay connected with your couple. Changes in the wedding photography plan may go on till the wedding day, so it’s best to be available to your couple at all times.

Suggested Read: How To Help Your Couples Plan Their Destination Wedding During The Pandemic

More Quick Tips For Destination Wedding Photographers

Researching, packing smart, and preparing your travel documents well in advance are undoubtedly important for destination weddings but don’t forget to focus on the task at hand – taking beautiful photographs. Below are a few things that will make it easier for you to settle into the role of a destination wedding photographer.

  1. Try to showcase the destination’s beauty in your images to a maximum. That’s what the couple is excited about and would want to show all their friends and family too.
  2. Share your destination wedding photography on social media to get recognition in the genre and book more destination weddings.
  3. Create a website or a section on your website dedicated to destination wedding photography.
  4. Blog about your destination weddings and try to get them featured on popular wedding websites such as The Knot or the WeddingWire.

Make Your Clients Experience the Best!

Infographic stating keep your client experience top notch

While the thought of a destination wedding is enticing for you as a wedding photographer, you must remember that there is a lot of planning that goes into it. Your couple spends a lot of time (and in most cases, money) planning their destination wedding. So it’s your job to ensure that you get stunning photographs of the wedding and the location and make sure that everything goes according to plan. So, keep all your documents ready, keep your equipment safe, and try to do your location and venue research before you get there.

Further Read: How To Have The Most Profitable Wedding Season As A Photographer

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing tips with you to help you grow your wedding photography business. We also offer professional photo editing services to aid your business growth. If you want to learn more about our services, check out our pricing plans.

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