Doesn’t it? Sounds like fun.
A lot of wedding photographers fantasize about getting hired to shoot weddings abroad or, on a beautiful beach, or maybe in a romantic European town. It’s an ideal getaway from the routine of weddings photographed in an unassuming location in your hometown.
In the excitement of booking weddings in some remote destination, don’t believe that you’ll be able to take a plane and take off to shoot a wedding in a different country. Even if you’re being paid by the client back in your home country, meaning the money isn’t changing hands in another country, you might find it is illegal to shoot a wedding in the land of your destination. Therefore, make sure to check it out. Numerous countries are stepping up their efforts on what they consider to be illegal foreign workers. And the unpleasant “grilling” from immigration officers could result in expulsion on the next plane out. In addition, you could also be barred from entering the nation in the near future.
Certain photographers will say they think, “it’s OK, I go in as a tourist and never have a problem,” But they may be fortunate. Therefore, do some study on this too.
For instance, as a British citizen, I am allowed to legally work in any other European Union country, such as France, Greece, Italy, Germany, etc. However, I am not able to shoot weddings in the USA.
If you’re not sure about the legality of working in a certain country, you should decline the work and then refer it to a photographer in the country. You will not only gain some good luck (and possibly a second referral when it’s time), but you’ll also avoid the risk of getting into a number of legal issues and an extremely upset customer.
What equipment do I require?
The same at home. However, it would help if you had backups for almost everything. Likely, replacement equipment will not be accessible (or not at the earliest) in a destination that is popular with tourists.
The trick is to bring enough gear to cover any mishaps but keep your equipment to an absolute minimum. It’s my practice to shoot using two cameras, and I recommend at a minimum and, ideally, two. I know a photographer who was filming at a wedding in Miami during a hurricane and had three cameras go out on her, one after the other! If you’re trying to save space and weight, use an e-bike to use as a backup.
Prime lenses are usually small and light, and therefore, if you’re traditionally a zoom lens shooter, you might want to consider popping two primes (say 50mm and 85mm or 24mm for wide-angle shooting) to be prepared in the event of. There have been times when I dropped my zooms onto sandy beaches over the years, and it’s astonishing how quickly and easily dirt and sand get into the mechanism.
Also, find out whether you have to be required to register your gear upon leaving your home country or upon arrival at the destination. If not, you could end up being required to pay import tax or have your equipment taken away. Certain countries like Mexico are gung-ho to stop people from bringing valuable cameras into their country without paying import duty.
How much should I cost my client?
This is the most difficult part. It’s tempting to offer wedding couples who are planning to travel a significant discount in order to get the job, particularly if the destination is exotic or intriguing. I have friends who offer weddings in other countries at the cost of airfare and accommodations. Many clients think that they will be able to get you cheaply because the wedding is taking place in a nice location.
Avoid the temptation to commit this act. It doesn’t do you and anyone else in the business any favors. The customer is likely to evaluate the services you provide at the price they pay for them; if you work at no cost or for the lowest price, you’re more likely to meet an unfriendly or demanding client.
Ideally, you should be compensated for travel time as well as for the actual hours you shoot. Destination weddings typically require a lot of time when you consider the time spent traveling and preparing. If you’re being realistic, there’s flexibility in this, but you should figure out how long you’re scheduled to shoot on the day and then charge accordingly.
Be aware that you might need to purchase food and drinks at the hotel’s cost. Make a provision for this if it’s not included.
It is also possible that some customers will want them to be at 24/7 every day during the day of a destination wedding, relying on you to capture boats, beach barbecues, or other activities that aren’t part of the actual wedding ceremony.
It’s your choice how much you’d like to complete and if you will charge additional fees for it. But do talk about this issue with the clients in advance. Also, let them know that you’ll require some time to look over equipment, download cards, recharge batteries, and the like. And also ensure that you’re well-rested and ready for the actual wedding; it could be an exhausting day in a heat-stressed climate.