I see all of these photographers out there shooting gorgeous weddings in incredible spots and I really think that it might be for me. I want to start shooting destination weddings but I have absolutely no clue how I should charge for them or where to begin! How does one “break” into shooting destination weddings? Do you do a few for free to get your name out there? HELP!
A (Wannabe) Weary Traveler
Oh, my sweet friend, as someone who was once bit by the travel bug, I am right along side you! I want you to pull that passport out and fill it with as many stamps as you can muster! This question gets asked a lot, so I first want to tell you that you aren’t alone, not in the least. My view on this has shifted over the past few years as I’ve spent days (into weeks) living at airports, sleeping on planes, and navigating new cities with overfilled gear bags. Here are my three things you might not know about weddings that require travel…
Your client should cover your travel expenses:
This might seem like a no brainer, but one of the biggest things people struggle with is where to begin. You might be tempted to just have them cover your travel (and skip your normal rates and fees) but here’s my question to you: is a wedding in Iceland any less work than a wedding in Wisconsin? The answer should be: no.
When I charge for travel weddings, it is my normal rates/packages + the expenses of travel. Why? Because my rates are profitable, my services and experience is the same no matter where I am, and I value my time out of the office.
Here’s what to consider:
Whenever I travel for work, I make sure these things are covered for me (and I promise I am not a diva, this is just standard!) Flight, accommodations for two nights, a few of the meals, and transportation. I always arrive the day before the event (as early as possible in case of any flight issues) and then stay the night of the wedding. Should I choose to extend the trip or stay a few days for vacation, that’s on my dime. You also don’t want to forget things like rental cars, cab fees, airport parking fees etc.
PRO TIP: Always book your own travel and then send the receipt. You want to be in control of your flights and make sure you don’t have any crazy layovers or something that might not be conducive to you doing your job well!
Here’s what you might not know:
While destination weddings look totally glamorous and you’re imagining shooting a couple on a mountaintop or in front of a waterfall, destination weddings are a LOT of work. That’s why I cringe when people discount their prices to get them. You are out of the office for multiple days (which means you’re likely behind in your work,) you’re away from your family, you’re hauling tens of thousands of dollars of gear in your bag through the airport, you’re at the mercy of flights (that sometimes don’t leave on time), you may need to apply for work visa’s and you’re shooting in a place you are highly unfamiliar with.
Are they amazing? YES, without a doubt, but you absolutely shouldn’t discount the fact that they are still work (heck, a lot more work than a normal wedding) and you need to be profitable as a business owner.
Why I choose more local over travel:
I’ve taken a shift in my business to get away from destination weddings and get back to more local events. Why? Because I love to sleep in my own bed after a long day and have breakfast with Drew. I would rather travel for leisure than try to pack light stands and gear into a single bag that I can carry on my back. I would hate to worry about customs or getting caught shooting somewhere I shouldn’t be and as the CEO of my business, I sure as heck want to make sure that I am running a profitable business (no matter where that business takes place!)
Destination weddings are exceptional, beautiful, incredible events and getting to shoot in some incredible spots in the world is a true blessing! I generally take 1-2 destination weddings per year. If it’s something you are seriously interested in, go for it! Share a post about places you’re dying to shoot or express your desire to travel. The more you put that out into the universe, the more it will come back to you. Just make sure that whatever you decide to charge, it is paying you for your time and talent!
If you aren’t sure if your prices are profitable, click here to get my profitable pricing guide that will tell you exactly what you need to charge to reach your income goals!