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« An Aloha to Film | Main | How do I Choose My Photographer? »
Wednesday
Jan272010

Destination Photographer 101

As I embark today on a journey to Hawaii, it's a reminder that what I've taken for granted as home, is also one of the most popular wedding destinations in the world, with over 25,000 weddings taking place each year. May and June are the most popular months to get married. September and October follow and the average number of guests at a destination wedding in Hawaii is 47...yet I digress...

Often times it's a tricky concept just how to hire a photographer for a destination wedding. Do you hire the wedding site's photographer, do you fly someone in, do you hire someone local to the area, or do you just give Uncle Henry the ole point and shoot and crown him king for the day...

Once you have decided that photography is important enough to you to fly someone in, remember that the usual concept of photography being 10-15% of your budget should go right out the proverbial window. Destination weddings are usually smaller, however the photographer is not working just one day. He or she is traveling as well, so figure that the photographer is going to be considering this upon offering you his quote. Then, add on travel and accommodations for the photographer, transportation and per diem. This is where the brain can garner a hernia...

Even though your wedding may only have 40 people with a buffet reception, expect your photographer to request his fee for a full day of wedding services at their full day rate. Remember, this is for an established destination photographer. Of course there are ways to be economically conservative such as hiring an up and coming photographer who wishes to build their book and experience, and this can be wonderful as well. Just make sure they understand fully the logistics of flying with equipment. They should also be aware that usual equipment insurers do not cover internationally, and an extra policy will need to be secured.

On average, it costs a photographer around $2000 to fly to a wedding with three nights accommodations and lost work days at home. This includes taxi, food, but this is only if they do not bring an assistant. If they are bringing an assistant, it will cost them at least an extra $1500 for their travel, pay, and this is if they share the same room (this is why my hubby is my assistant much of the time ;0). This is a very rough estimate, but helps you wrap your mind around the logistics.

Of course these costs go up once you go international as this necessitates extra travel days and accommodations, etc.

Ask your photographer if they can compile an estimate specifically for your wedding location/destination which includes:

Air, transportation, accommodations at or near your wedding site, wedding day shooting fee, welcome dinner shooting fee, their assistant's air and rate for working the day of the wedding, as well as meals.

It's really important that your photographer fly out to your location at least 2 nights prior to your wedding. This is to ensure that they are able to scout the site location the day before the wedding! You want them comfortable with the surroundings, selecting portrait locales, they should visit the wedding location at the exact time the wedding is going to held so they are aware of the lighting. Coming in early also ensures your photographer has a cushion in case of flight cancellations or delays. So, essentially, you are looking at 3 nights hotel accommodations minimum.

Allow the photographer to make their own arrangements for travel, etc. out of the fee they are charging you. With everything on your plate, the last thing you want to be doing is worrying about where they want to fly out of, what time they want to fly, which hotel they want to stay at....Just give them the exact airport to fly in to, the hotel you and your guests are staying at and a less expensive option nearby, and the rest is gravy. With a solid destination photographer, they have done this many, many times before and is simply second nature to us.

Keep in mind that as complicated as some of this sounds, some of us simply love to travel, to bond with our clients over these experiences, and all the minute financial details are obliterated with one fell swoop of set destination packages.

Hawaii: boom! One price.

Europe: boom! Another price.

Mexico: boom! You get the picture...

Now, remember that when you have a destination wedding, it is not just a wedding anymore....it is an event which your family and friends have traveled, left work, and used their heart-earned dollars to jo
in you, and this is their vacation too...!!!!! I get so excited when I visit a new place as well, even if I'm working, I'm like a kid at Christmas. Everyone is relaxed and happy, life is good. Ask your photographer if they can prepare a slide-show of 30-40 of the images that you could have within the week to email to your friends and family while the momentum is still kickin'. Everyone wants to relive those vacation moments as quickly as possible to share with their loved ones as soon as they get home, so keep this in mind and communicate with your photographer as to his/her abilities to fulfill not only your needs, but those of your guests as well; if your photographer has an online link from which your guests will order photos later, ask them if they can release the link to you early so you can send it to your guests prior to the wedding. With my online lab, Pictage, the client's guests can preregister, so they are notified as soon as the bride releases her link to the public. This way she doesn't have to worry about emailing everyone at once!

It's such an exciting time, and destination weddings are truly unique and special. With every destination I've done, it's felt as though camp just ended and it was time to leave Neverland...





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