Ever wonder how to become a destination wedding photographer? It’s a pretty incredible job! It’s one thing to be able to capture one of the most romantic days of a couple’s relationship, and it’s another to be able to travel to their dreamy wedding venues to do it!
How to Become a Destination Wedding Photographer
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I am a wedding photographer and travel writer who runs two small businesses.
My degree is in Landscape Architecture, and my career experience is in theme park design and professional retouching, prior to going full time on my two passions.
I’ve lived all over the East Coast from New York to Florida, Washington DC, and North Carolina. I spend about 40% of the year in the NY/NJ Tri-State area, 40% of the year in North Carolina, and 20% travel, including both domestic and international destinations.
How did you get started doing this? What appealed to you?
It was a beautiful transformation from following my passion of photography, including traveling for jobs, to starting to write about my explorations, to starting a travel blog.
What is your favorite part of the job? Are there any downsides?
I LOVE being my own boss and being in command of my schedule. I’m also very much self-driven and an incredibly hard worker.
I think the only downside is knowing you don’t have a “steady” paycheck coming in but there are ways to feel financially secure if you’re responsible about spending, saving, and smart about running your business.
What are important skills you should have if you want to do this successfully?
You MUST be self-driven to succeed and be good with time management. No one but YOU is accountable for your success or failure when you work solo. Here’s an article I wrote about 5 Qualities Every Successful Blogger Must Possess. I feel it touches on a lot of important skills I have that I advise others should have too.
How often do you have to travel for your work?
I hit the road about every 3 weeks or so for work.
How much do you earn per month with this? (yep: dish the deetz!)
I’m not going to get into specifics because I don’t like to speak publicly about money much, but it’s likely I hit close to 6 figures every year. (To be clear, that’s from photography, not travel writing.)
It’s difficult to say what a typical month looks like because my income varies each month because of my profession(s).
What would be your advice for people wanting to start working as a destination wedding photographer?
You need to work locally to build your portfolio then find ways to expand into an international market. A lot of my destination and international weddings are the result of genuine LOCAL relationships. 🙂
A great example is how I came to meet Eboni and Carl and photograph their wedding in Jamaica. She works in TV production and worked with a wedding planner on some television segments. When Eboni and Carl got engaged she turned to that planner for photographer recommendations. That how she found me.
Could you give a little step-to-step guide on how people would get started as a wedding photographer?
You need to get decent as a photographer first. Then reach out to photographers in your area to come along as an assistant or second or third shooter.
In the meantime, I recommend asking family and friends if you can photograph them to gain some practice and images for your portfolio. I won’t even consider a second photographer who reaches out if they don’t have a portfolio to show me because it means two things: 1) they’re inexperienced and 2) they’re not passionate about progressing as a photographer.
If you’re curious to really learn how I got started, give a listen to my interview on Photography Field Notes. 😉 It includes information on establishing yourself in multiple locations too.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I often think, “You should write about what a week in your life looks like!” because no two days are the same. I wish I was great about setting a schedule every day but I’m a creative person. Which means I go with the flow with my finicky personality when it comes to a schedule.
Some days I wake up at 7:30 am and start to work, some days I wake up at 9:30 am because I went to bed after 1:00 am.
In a typical month, however, I am consistently answering a ton of emails, creating timelines for couples, ordering products like albums, doing a LOT of social media scheduling and posting (from Instagram to Facebook, Pinterest, G+ and more), and creating a lot of blog content. I also do double duty on many of these tasks for Mikkel Paige Photography and Sometimes Home.
Any other tips or advice for aspiring photographers?
Practice, get out and shoot and ALWAYS shoot on manual. Also, read what you can and engage in photography Facebook groups and associated forums.
Thanks to Mikkel for sharing her story and tips for becoming a destination wedding photographer and travel blogger! Check out her work and follow her below:
MIKKEL PAIGE PHOTOGRAPHY
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