Saturday, 3 March 2012

Destination wedding photography – bring a photographer or use a local one?

Once the wedding dress is put away, the guests have gone and the wedding cake has been eaten the most important left from the biggest day of your life are your photographs. Choosing the right photographer is not and easy task and for destination weddings the decision of whether to bring a photographer from abroad or hire a local adds another layer of complexity.
There are definitely pros and cons to both. The not so obvious pro for bringing a photographer from abroad is that they often have an innovative view on the venue and wedding location and often achieve more creative wedding photography results. I have photographed many destination weddings in Europe and US and as a non-local, working in a new environment, I find myself enchanged by the new surroundings, viewing each location with fresh eyes.
A more obvious advantage when you bring a photographer from your country is the opportunity to meet with them in person first, get to know their style of work if you do an engagement shoot and even have them as the photographer for the reception back home, if you have one. This will also ensure for the photos to have the same style.
The downside of bringing a destination wedding photographer is the additional travel expenses you might incur. Photographers approach on this vary so you should discuss this aspect with your photographer in advance as expenses cam vary from air travel, to hotel and to extra charge for each additional day abroad. I always try to keep my travel and accommodation expenses as low as possible in order not to burden the couple additionally. I usually book the flight as soon as the couple signs the contract in order to avoid expensive tickets in the last minute. I do not request to stay in a luxury accommodation and the couple often has preferrential rates if they have reserved a hotel for their guests. I have a lot of friends around Europe, US, Caribbean and Mexico and in the big cities like Paris, Rome, Milan, Florence, Barcelona where I can cover my own accommodation.
Despite the additional costs for travel the benefit of bringing a destination wedding photographer is greater if you plan to have a pre-wedding reception or after wedding breakfast or lunch which you would like photographed. Most photographers would usually offer a combined packaged deal which might be more cost efficient then a local photographer. I personally offer the option of after wedding photography. This could be either trash the dress photography or just some more relaxed photos after the wedding day which usually provide the opportunity for more creative photography. Most of the time I offer this additional service as part of the package which brides often view as a great trade-off for the travel expenses.
If you’re considering going with a local wedding photographer, you will likely incur minimal to no travel expenses, which is an obvious benefit. They might also know hidden photography spots or have experience working at your venue which is also a plus. In addition, a local photographer could act as a tour guide or translator, though this may not always be the case. A local photographer may not be fluent in English (or your language) which sometimes is one of the benefits of bringing a destination photographer fluent in your language. Though it is still possible to have beautiful photos even with a language barrier for me the communication with the couple and the family is an integral part of my work on the wedding day.
I personally always try to overcome the disadvantage of not being local and not knowing the area too well by arriving at the wedding location at least a day before the wedding in order to do my research not only about suitable spots for photography but also to see the lighting conditions at the time of the wedding ceremony and reception as light is vital for any professional photograper.
Another obvious disadvantage of hiring a local photographer, however, is not meeting your photographer before the wedding day. I believe one of the most important elements when selecting a wedding photographer is the bond you establish when you meet them. The wedding day is already a stressful event for most brides, especially so for destination brides, therefore knowing your photographer at an initial meeting and even better having seen their style of work at an engagement session may help relieve some of the stress. Knowing your photographer in advance is vital considering how important he is for ensuring your wedding is captured in timeless and beautiful photos. If neverthless you decide to go for a local photographer but you do not have the opportunity to travel to your wedding location to meet with him, I highly recommend to have a Skype meeting with you.
When choosing your photographer remember that this person is most probably the most important person you will hire for your wedding. After all you are investing in the memories of your special day.

For further information on destination wedding photography and to view our portfolio of wedding photography in Central London, Europe, France, Monaco, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Zurich and Russia please visit or contact Neli on