Chapter 7: Destination Weddings
Today, travelling the world shooting weddings in exotic mindblowing locations has become the industry's standard version of ultimate success. I was under this spell for years!
If your life circumstances suit a destination wedding photographer lifestyle then I wish you all the best.
And while I am totally on board with offering a reduced price to get your first destination wedding in your portfolio so you can market yourself as such, my personal opinion is that the trend of continuously swapping shooting a wedding in a far-away location purely for the plane tickets massively devalues what we do. I once saw a guy on Instagram who was clearly very very talented, and who openly in his bio declared that he shot weddings all over the globe in return for airfare and accommodation. I completely get the desire to travel! I feel that pull too! And while I have often spent my full payment for a wedding on taking a few extra days or weeks to explore that area or country, I have charged for both travel expenses to and from the wedding as well as my shoot fee.
Back in 2012, when I was offered my first destination wedding in Texas, it felt like the chance of a lifetime. And even to this day, although I have travelled extensively since, it is still one of the most exciting adventures of my life. I never brought back a dime from shooting that wedding. Although I charged my normal rate + travel, I spent all the money on a two week roadtrip across the states with my best friend. A trip I will never forget.
Sometimes I have given a reduced price to couples where I expected alot of the lost income to be made up for in referrals from that couple, and I never got a single new client out of it. Other times I have charged my normal rate and the couple has sent every one of their marrying friends my way! You can't always tell in advance who will be the ones to rave about you. There are also the rare occasions where you sense a couple is SO kind and so good and genuinely won't be able to come up with the money, where their gratitude for you lowering your price and the enthusiasm with which they enter the collaboration makes it the most beautiful experience.
But if this is something you dream of, I encourage you to go back to your notes from the Know Yourself chapter. Does your life fit with a life on the road? Are you willing to give up what it takes to travel for extensive periods of time? Do you thrive always being on the go, or do you actually need a stable base?
Be realistic! And really search your heart.
Also don't count on building your entire business on destination weddings. See them as a treat, a perk of the job, and give your local or domestic clients the exact same love and attention that you would give a couple getting married in that far-away exotic place where you have always dreamed of going.