How to Choose a Destination Photographer

February 2, 2024

Getting married and not sure how to choose a Destination Photographer? This guide is here to help shine some light on things to consider when you decide on who your photographer should be!

Valley of fire destination elopement

How to Choose a Destination Photographer: Picking Local or Out of State/Country

The first question you will want to ask yourself is: do you want a local photographer? Or perhaps there is someone you have admired for months that lives out of state and you want them for your day?

There are a lot of different ways you can go about choosing your photographer:

  • Picking someone local to your destination area
  • If you have a wedding venue they may have someone already on-site
  • Picking someone you love, even if they are not local

First, let’s discuss local photographers and what this may look like!

Right off the bat there are some pros to choosing a local photographer:

  • No travel fees
  • Familiar with the area
  • More than likely have experience shooting in your destination area/venue
  • No venue vendor fees
  • Knowledge on local permits (historical sites, national parks, etc)

Now let’s go over some of the key questions:

  • Do you love their portfolio?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • What does their contract look like?
  • What is their cancelation policy?
  • What is their communication like? (This is a big one, since you probably won’t meet them until the event date, it’s crucial to find someone who has a prompt response time).

You will want to be sure and schedule a consultation call with your photographer that is based in the destination location. This will allow you to build a better connection, ensure you are a good fit, and give you the chance to fully explain your vision for the day.

In addition, a resort may charge you an outside vendor fee if you hire someone who is not associated with that venue.

When it comes to choosing a local photographer that is not associated with your venue, key things to consider are: their work, availability, fees if you bring them to the resort, and overall connection and relationship!

Venue Restrictions for Photography

Some venues have on-site photographers that they build into your wedding package (meaning you already get one, easy peasy).

However, this may cause some discomfort because you may not like their work! It’s always important to review portfolios whether they are from the venue, local, or coming from out of state/country.

A few questions you may want to ask yourself for packages that include photographers are:

Will you get to meet them?

You may not get the ability to meet your photographer until the day of depending on if the venue allows a meet and greet between you and the photographer.

Will you have communication directly with them?

There may be some barriers between how much communication you have with the on-site photographer, giving you less of a one-on-one experience.

Hiring a Photographer From Out of State/Country

Whether you’re planning a large destination wedding or intimate elopement I am sure that a lot of planning has gone into your vision.

One of these visions is probably your wedding photography.

Let’s say you’ve had your eye on a destination photographer for a while and it’s finally your turn to book. How exciting!

The first thing you will want to do is schedule a consultation call with the photographer. Most photographers don’t have a flat rate for destinations and will need to gather some information from you to create your personalized destination proposal.

A consultation call will also allow you to build a connection, express the vision for your day, and ensure you are a good fit.

A few additional perks to remember are:

  • They are just as excited for the destination location as you! This will flow into the energy they bring for the day.
  • A portfolio that you chose solely based on it complimenting your vision (why hire someone from out of state if they aren’t THE vision).
  • Planning help (even if they haven’t been there they will be more than happy to help scout the perfect spot).

Questions to Ask Yourself:

Some key things to consider when you hire a photographer for travel:

  • Do they do destination weddings and elopements?
  • What are their travel rates?
  • Have they been to this destination before?
  • Are they offering any bucket list discounts for your destination?
  • Are you going to be at a destination they will already be traveling to?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have good reviews?
  • What does their contract look like?
  • What are their cancellation policies? (them unable to attend and also things like weather)
a las vegas nevada destination elopement

When it comes to their experience with your destination area this is entirely up to you on if you want someone who has been there before, or perhaps someone who has not but it’s on their bucket list!

Some photographers will have a yearly travel schedule and offer no travel fees if you book a location while they are already there, this is a good way to eliminate travel fees if your dates are flexible!

A few things that your photographer will need to confirm for your destination will be:

  • Work permits (entering different countries may require work documentation)
  • Location permits (national parks, historical areas, etc)
  • Current passports/ID’s

However, these are things that they will be responsible for! Just be sure to communicate any and all areas you want to include in your gallery in case there are any permits they need for those specific areas.

How to Choose a Destination Photographer: Destination Photographer Investment

When it comes to hiring a destination photographer there will be additional costs to consider such as:

  • Base Wedding Package Costs
  • Second shooters
  • Flights
  • Rentals/Transportation
  • Lodging (usually 2-3 nights depending on your destination and event).
  • Food
  • Parking

Not every photographer requires all of these and some may require even more, but the most common ones to expect are: base package prices, flights/transportation, and lodging.

As mentioned above, some photographers offer discounts for bucket list destinations and/or waive travel fees if you schedule your event around a time when they will already be at the location.

How to Choose a Destination Photographer: Availability

A Destination wedding or Elopement takes a lot of additional planning, date accommodation, and overall time to schedule.

Not only will you want to consider availability for yourselves and guests but also your vendors.

Depending on your destination event and how many days the celebration will take, it’s common to expect your photographer to arrive a few days early to account for things such as: flight delays, transportation time, changes in schedule, weather, familiarizing themselves with the area, and more.

In addition, some photographers may also join your rehearsal if allowed/applicable.

When deciding the perfect time to book your photographer it is common for destination events to require at least a years notice.

Given that traditional local wedding photography is suggested to be booked a year out, something such as a multi-day destination can require a year or even more to ensure your date is available.

destination photographer capturing a las vegas elopement
a couple eloping in nevada
Destination photographer capturing a valley of fire elopement

Additional Vendor Recommendations:

In addition to photography, I wanted to include a section on my personal favorite vendors that can help bring your vision to life!

Videographers:

Planners:

Honeymoon Travel Agents:

How to Choose a Destination Photographer: Summary

Whether you’re leaning towards a local photographer or hiring someone from out of state/country, the most important thing will will be if they are a good fit for you and bring your vision to life.

If you are ready to dive into your epic destination planning and are interested in my services you can inquire here.

For more information on my services, click here for my packages.

Lastly, need help planning your destination wedding or elopement? I have a separate blog just for planning resources! Click here to read more.

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Destination Wedding Photographer

Website: daniellewilliamsphotography.com

Contact: dwp@daniellewilliamsphotography.com

Danielle Oney

more about danielle

Meet your photographer & adventure bestie, Danielle

Hey! I’m an adventurous, outdoorsy, and avid travel seeker who connects best with couples that aren’t afraid to go off-script, appreciate the candid moments, and who enjoy going with the flow. 

With travel experience both stateside and internationally, I am thrilled at the idea of capturing your special story in a breathtaking location personalized just for you.