How to hire a photographer for your destination wedding
Whether you’re saying “yes” on the beach or on a mountaintop, you need the right photographer to capture those dreamy memories. But how do you hire a photographer for your destination wedding if you don’t know the local market?
According to destination wedding photographer Bethel Ann Clark, it’s like hiring a local wedding photographer, but there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. “It’s important to have a connection with your photographer first and foremost,” says Clark. “It can also be surprisingly affordable, which many couples don’t realize. If I had known how affordable a destination wedding could be, I would have done it myself!
Meet the expert
- Bethel Ann Clark is a veteran wedding photographer based in Pennsylvania. She has photographed weddings all over the world.
Keep reading to learn more about how to hire the right destination wedding photographer for your wedding.
How to Find a Destination Wedding Photographer
Finding a wedding photographer in your hometown isn’t difficult – many couples ask for recommendations from friends and family – but what if you don’t know anyone who got married in the destination your choice ? Clark says you have two options: hire a photographer from your destination or find a destination photographer closer to you who is willing to travel. Either works, but the latter can help you build a connection with your photographer, which will ultimately put you at ease on the big day.
Find a photographer who travels frequently
“Both options are acceptable, but sometimes it’s harder to connect with a photographer who’s overseas,” she says. “If you’re looking for a destination photographer who’s willing to travel, make sure they really love to travel and do it a lot. Look at their Instagram stories or their blog. If they have travel experience, they will be able to think quickly and find solutions for you when things go wrong, because when it comes to travel, things inevitably go wrong.
“It’s ideal if they’ve photographed there, because they’ll get some useful ideas,” she says. “But if you really like their work and connect with them as a person, just make sure they have travel experience with at least one similar place so you know they understand the logistics and the potential problems.”
Turn to social media
So how do you find that destination wedding photographer? Start on Instagram and browse hashtags like #destinationweddingphotographer, or search destination wedding photography on Pinterest to see which wedding photography styles resonate best with you. Then, gather your list and head over to their websites. Browse their previous wedding galleries, learn a bit more about the photographers, set up calls or in-person meetings, and see which one you click best with.
Destination Wedding Photographer Cost
The short and obvious answer to the cost of a wedding photographer varies, but the general rule of thumb is that it includes the typical cost of the wedding photographer, plus flights, two nights of accommodation, meals, and transportation. For most wedding photographers, typical prices are between $3,000 and $6,000; so just add the estimated travel prices for your specific destination to get a general idea.
Faraway weddings can seem glamorous and luxurious, but Clark says destination wedding photography isn’t always as expensive as it seems. She’s a budget traveler at heart, and like many other travel enthusiasts, including destination wedding photographers, she’s always on the lookout for deals to help her clients save money, too.
“Prices will depend on who you hire and where your wedding is, but for someone like me, I like to travel as cheaply as possible,” she said. “Also, destination weddings, in general, can be cheaper than expected. You usually have fewer people present, so you save money in areas like catering. Or, if you’ve been planning a big wedding, you’ve probably already budgeted for that price point anyway.
Let the photographer book their own travel and send receipts for reimbursement – they may have an airline or flight route preference depending on the gear. Just be sure to set a budget cap based on average prices before they buy to avoid any problems.
Things to consider when hiring
When interviewing potential destination wedding photographers, here are some important things to keep in mind.
Make sure they’re not looking for a free trip
It’s important to make sure your destination wedding photographer has experience with travel, but Clark says to keep an eye out for photographers who use destination weddings solely for the free travel. “A lot of photographers try to stand out in destination wedding photography, but some just want it for travel or to add to their portfolio. Their hearts aren’t in the right place,” she says. someone who cares about your marriage first and foremost. You want to get married in this beautiful place, but at the end of the day, you get married. That’s why you are here!
Pay attention to their captions and blog content
This red flag is a little harder to spot. If the photographer shares past trips on their blog and Instagram, they tick that travel experience box, right? Yes, Clark said, but it really depends on the tone. “Look at their Instagram captions or their blog content. Do they brag about the places they’ve visited or explain why weddings in those places were magical? ” she says. “Look for the photographer who is more interested in moments and less in flashy images. Meaningful captions about the wedding, not just the destination, are a good sign.
Make sure they can work in the desired destination
Another mistake couples make when hiring a destination wedding photographer? Make sure the photographer can actually work in your destination. Clark says she’s never had a problem working in places like Europe or even India, but the rules vary and it’s something you should clarify before signing a contract.
“Every place is different, but for me, I know I can’t legally work in Canada, so I don’t host weddings there,” she says. There are loopholes and roundabout ways to do it, but it’s a hassle and not worth it, in his opinion. Most destination wedding venues or planners will have information based on past experience, so you can gather this information from them before you begin your search for a destination wedding photographer.
Clark says photography permits in the United States are stricter than most overseas destinations, but that’s something your photographer should research and help you navigate. That said, she recommends taking a step back before you even have the permit discussion to make sure your photographer understands your unique interests as a couple. It’s easy for destination wedding photographers to get caught up in the most iconic beauty and photo spots in the destination, but it really comes down to what you, as a couple, want most.
“Your photographer will help you scout out locations, but make sure they choose locations based on who you and your partner are, and not just whether or not the backdrop will be beautiful,” Clark says. “I like to ask my couples where they feel most peaceful and inspired, and I choose the location based on those criteria.”