Once the wedding dress is put away, the guests have gone, and the wedding cake has been eaten, the most important thing left from the biggest day of your life are your photographs. Choosing the right photographer is not an easy task and for destination weddings, the decision of whether to bring a photographer from abroad or to 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 U.S. and as a non-local, working in a new environment, I find myself enchanted 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 choose to have one. This will also ensure that the photos have the same style.
The downside of bringing a destination wedding photographer is the additional travel expenses you might incur. Photographers approach to this will vary so you should discuss this aspect with your photographer in advance as expenses can vary from air travel, to hotel and extra charges for each additional day abroad.
Considering my Clients
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 hotel and the couple often has preferential hotels and special rates if they have reserved a block of rooms for their guests. I also have a lot of friends in major cities around the world like Paris, Rome, Milan, Florence, Barcelona, etc. where I can cover my own accommodations.
More Pros & Cons
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 than that of a local photographer’s. 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 provides the opportunity for more creative photography. Most of the time, I offer this additional service as part of a package deal 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 whatever your native language may be) which could be one of the benefits of hiring a destination photographer fluent in your own language. Though it is still possible to have beautiful photos even with a language barrier, for me, the communication with the couple and 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 for suitable photography spots, but also to observe the lighting conditions at the time of the wedding ceremony and reception as light is vital for any professional photographer.
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, and even more so for destination brides. Therefore, allowing time for you and your fiancé to be familiar with your photographer and their style of work at an engagement photography session may help relieve some of the stress. Knowing your photographer in advance is vital considering how important s/he is to ensuring your wedding is captured in timeless, beautiful photos. If nevertheless, you decide to go for a local photographer and do not have the opportunity to travel to your wedding location to meet with him, I highly recommend a Skype meeting.
When choosing your photographer, remember that this person is probably the most important vendor you will hire for your wedding. After all, you are investing in the life-long memories of your special day.
About the Author
Neli is a destination wedding photographer and owner of Destination Weddings & Events Photography based in London. Having trained in New York as a wedding photographer Neli has a contemporary wedding photography style that combines unobtrusive, photojournalistic approach and modern portraiture with a touch of fashion glamour. She aims to portray the wedding day as it is unfolds – romantic and fun in every way. Neli has photographed destination weddings in the US and Europe including Italy, South of France, Monaco, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus, bringing her professional approach to venues both grand and intimate. Besides English she is fluent in Russian and Spanish. You can view her portfolio at www.NeliPrahova.com and her blog at www.NeliPrahova.blogspot.com.