FILED IN: EDUCATION
For a lot of photographers, booking destination work is their dream. I mean think about, getting to travel to epic destinations for work?! Who wouldn’t want to do that!?
Though, breaking into the destination wedding scene isn’t as easy as one may think. Which is why we’re here to give you our top 4 tips for booking destination work.
For the last two years, we have both booked more weddings outside of our home states than in them. Places like: NYC, Montana, Colorado, Maine, California, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon. We’ve been incredibly lucky to shoot in loads of bucket list locations like: The Redwoods, Cannon Beach, Smith Rock, Glamis Sand Dunes, The Grand Canyon NP, Horseshoe Bend, Joshua Tree NP, Big Sur, Sunset Cliffs, Crater Lake NP, Garden of the Gods, The Salt Flats, Zion NP, Theodore Roosevelt NP, NYC, Acadia, and more. Now, we’re not saying all of this to brag – but to show you that if you follow these 5 tips, it really is possible to book destination work, no matter where you live (Bri is in Tennessee and Dana is in North Dakota).
Our number 1 tip for booking destination work will always be to show that you actually travel. There’s SO many photographers out there competing to book in these locations, ones that live there and ones that don’t. Which is why you need to show that you travel + have been to these places (or at least go to locations similar) prior. Showing that you do travel will tremendously help your chances of booking destination work.
This goes along with tip #1. If there are locations where you REALLY want to be shooting, go to those locations and create content there. Aside from showing that you travel in general, having actual content in other destinations will help you A LOT. If you don’t want to set up your own shoots – going to retreats + content days in the locations you want to start shooting in is a good way to get content as well.
A lot of the times, people who are eloping/getting married in other destination aren’t from there either. This is where you can come in and really show them why booking you is the best option. Be the expert in the location. Know the best spots to shoot at, know if permits are required and how to get them, the best lighting times, have vendors on hand to suggest to them, maybe even have tips on where to stay and what to do. We highly suggest in the beginning, picking 1 or 2 destinations where you want to focus and heavily learning the ins + outs of these places. Maybe even make separate sales pages and blogs dedicated to that location (you can learn more about this at our retreats!). EXAMPLE: Bri focused heavily on Oregon and ended up booking 5 weddings/sessions in one year there even though she lives in Tennessee.
The destination wedding industry relies heavily on Instagram (and social media in general), which is why having a strong Instagram is important. Our Instagram feeds are mini portfolios and a lot of times – it’s their first impression of you as an artist. You have to be showing the work you want to be booking aka, showing that you do in fact do destination work. If they come to your page and all of your work is in St Louis, Missouri but you say you’re a travel photographer in your bio – that doesn’t look too promising. Which may result in you investing in travel and/or retreats + content days to get started. Like tip #1, the more you show that you travel on your instagram. the more you’ll book.
We highly suggest using location – specific hashtags to help broaden your clientele as well.. Anytime you shoot destination work – be sure to use location – specific hashtags and tag the nearby city/location (please help keep remote places wild (Places like Horseshoe Bend used to be incredibly private). You don’t need to be incredibly specific in location tags – just saying the general area/National Park will work).
Another tip for instagram is changing your actual Instagram Name. If you’re wanting to start shooting in Oregon – change your name to Oregon Wedding Photographer – it’ll make you searchable by that vs. just your business name.
It will take some time to start booking destination work – but don’t let that be discouraging. Be consistent and keep at it, your dreams will become your reality!
Here for community, not competition?
D & B