Tips for Photographers: How to Book Destination Weddings
Only a few years ago we DREAMED of being able to travel for work, but we lived in a small town with our two small kids, didn’t have a budget to travel, and didn’t know HOW THE HECK to break into the destination wedding photography market. Now it’s one of our most frequently asked questions, and something we get asked to teach in our mentor sessions and workshops all. the. time. How do you do it? how do you go from never shooting a destination wedding, to travelling all over the world, in just a few years?
1. Travel on your own dime.
But what if you don’t have the money? the time? the childcare?
Nobody does when they’re just starting out, but if you really want it, you’ll make it happen!
Think about it for a sec: if a couple wants to get married in Iceland, are they going to hire the little small town photographer in the mid-west who has never travelled before, or are they going to hire a photographer who they know travels, and is comfortable + reliable shooting in new places they may have never been to before?
Most likely they’re going to trust + want to book the photographer who travels often, over the photographer who has never travelled before.
You don’t have to travel far right off the bat, just get outside of your own home town! Do mini-roadtrips with friends, explore your province or state, and then when you’re able to, branch out even further!
If this all sounds too overwhelming or daunting, re-assess if and why you really want to be a destination photographer. While it’s an incredible part of the job, it’s also not for the faint of heart, and can be exhausting, overwhelming, and stressful, if you don’t already LOVE travelling.
I’m gonna tell it to you straight: don’t become a travel photographer if you don’t like to travel. period.
2. Show what you want to shoot, & shoot what you want to show!
Once you have some trips booked, start reaching out to couples in that area and set up some styled shoots! Styled shoots don’t always have to be “styled!” Reach out to a cute couple, scout/choose an incredible location that inspires you, and send them some guidance and tips for what you’d like them to wear! (If you’re not already coaching your clients on what to wear, start! it’s a huge game changer + they SO appreciate the guidance on what photographs best. We send all of our couples a Pinterest board for inspiration, along with a Style Guide)
If you’re wanting to book mainly elopements + weddings, reach out to a local dress designer + florist + collaborate on a shoot! OR (I’ve done this multiple times) buy a white flowy dress online, forage for wildflowers + style your own shoot entirely.
Once you’re travelling on your own, shooting with rad couples in locations that inspire you, you’ve got all the tools you need, and now it’s time to share them!!
3. Location tags & hashtags.
Instagram is one of the most powerful marketing tools available for photographers right now. Use it! Start sharing your very best photos and tagging the location where you shot at, ANNND locations that you’d love to go! One main way that couples find their photographer is through location-specific hashtags and location tags, so start harnessing those to your benefit.
For example: If you want to shoot a wedding in New Zealand, and you just did a couples session in Oregon that kind-of looks like it could have been taken in New Zealand, use both the New Zealand location tag and #newzealandweddingphotographer. (Use this at your discretion, obviously if you did a shoot in Saskatchewan, you’re probably not going to tag Banff, as it doesn’t look the same at all. But you COULD tag #albertaweddingphotographer or something along those lines. Bottom Line: Use hashtags and location tags that actually match your photo.)
4. Talk about how you love to travel.
This is almost as important as having the travel photos to show. You also want to share your heart on WHY you love to travel, and where that love of travelling came from! Talk about upcoming trip plans, or reminisce + blog about past trips + shoots you did while travelling.
Back to that simple rule: you’ll book whatever you’re showing! So the more that you’re putting it out there that you travel, the more you’ll start getting inquiries for different destinations!
5. Make connections all over the world.
Once you’re already travelling + building your portfolio for destination work, reach out to wedding planners, florists or venues in those countries and let them know how much you love their work, and how over-the-moon you’d be to work with them, and shoot a wedding there! If it’s a good fit, often times the wedding planner will refer you to their couples and eventually you’ll start getting inquiries for there!
Genuinely care about the team you work with! If you shoot an incredible destination wedding, share the gallery with all of the vendors involved, and thank them for making the day that much better! They’ll usually be so grateful for the photos that they’ll share them, and then brides + grooms considering that destination will see your work! (We’ve had SO MANY wedding inquiries for Tulum after shooting our first wedding there last May, all thanks to the incredible team there sharing our photos + recommending us to their couples!) ALWAYS love on the vendors you work with, and cultivate genuine connections within the industry, and over time your inquiries will organically multiply 10 fold because of it!
When you put all 5 of those tips into action, the inquiries for destination work will quickly follow!
Remember, don’t wait for destination weddings to fall in your lap! if you don’t travel, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to start getting inquiries for destination work. (it happens, but it’s rare!)
Once you start travelling on your own, setting up your own shoots while you’re travelling (build that portfolio, yo!) hashtagging and location tagging the crap outta those bomb images you took, share your heart behind why you love to travel, and reach out to other creatives in the industry all around the globe, you’ll start seeing results almost immediately.
Now we’d love to hear your thoughts!
Does this ignite your passion to travel, and inspire you to make it happen? Photogs who are already travelling, are there any tips you think we missed?
Based on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of BC, we are Sean + Kaylyn, husband + wife photo + film team who love to laugh loud, travel the world, and play with our 2 hilarious little mini-me's Cohen + Isla.
We believe that marriage is a lifelong adventure with your best friend, (we’ve been married for 10 years!) and we want to capture your love story naturally and genuinely, with no stiff awkward poses, just a FUN date day filled with exploring together, sipping craft beer as the sun goes down, and taking epic photos along the way!
The west coast is home, but we’re available for travel worldwide.