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Getting the Most from Your Destination Wedding Photography

Photography is one of the few wedding expenses that will leave you with something more tangible than memories after the event. Though you've probably heard all the usual advice for picking a wedding photographer, having a destination wedding adds another layer of specialization to the mix. Here are our best tips for making sure you get the best destination wedding photos ever.

Don't be cheap. Since you'll still be looking at your wedding photos many years later, getting them should be the very last item you consider for cost-cutting. This not the time to accept amateur Uncle Fred's offer to be your photographer, nor to hire a novice professional who offers you a deal. Hire the best wedding photographer you can afford.

Choose a photographer with destination wedding experience. The more distant or exotic the destination, the more you need a photographer who is experienced with the surprises that can arise. She's the one who knows to have plenty of backup equipment in case something goes wrong, and who understands exactly how to work with local conditions, whatever they may be.

Hire a photographer you like. You'll obviously choose someone whose work appeals to you, but it's less obvious that you'll need to choose someone who is comfortable and professional to work with. Your photographer should be flexible and enthusiastic about getting the images you want, rather than trying to make your wedding fit into his preset packages and concepts. And it's equally important that your photographer be able set your guests at ease for candids. You want him to blend into the background, not get in the way or even worse, take over and start directing.

Make sure the resort allows you to bring your own photographer. Many wedding destination resorts do have photographers on staff – but using their photographer means your pictures will be taken by someone you have never met, whose work you may not have seen. And you won't be able to even discuss your wishes with the resort photographer until you arrive and festivities have already begun.

Hire the photographer for the whole trip, not just the wedding day. Your destination wedding is a multiday experience, so you'll want pictures of the whole event, from the arrival cocktails to the post wedding day brunch, and all the activities, planned and unplanned, that happen in between.

Research the destination thoroughly. Every destination offers unique settings and lighting conditions that can make your photographs one of a kind. Learn all you can about what will be available, both by researching yourself, and by asking the destination's wedding coordinator for photography suggestions.

Schedule the formal sessions. Your wedding day will be crammed with activity. You and your photographer will want to plan a shooting schedule that won't squeeze the celebrations, but will leave adequate time for all formal photographic sessions, including family and bridal party portraits, and even the groomsmen gag photos and the trash the dress shoot. You may even be able to simplify by moving some of these to a day before or after the wedding.

Plan ahead for informal pictures. Your wedding will be unique, both for who is attending and for what everyone does during the whole weekend. So discuss with your photographer what non wedding related activities the bridal party and guests will have, and what informal pictures you are hoping to see of those people, activities and interactions. An experienced photographer will have good ideas of her own to offer.

For special shoots, hire a photographer with special skills. Are you planning to get married by hot air balloon or underwater, or in some extremely remote location? You'll need to make very sure your photographer has the equipment and the capability to handle the special demands of this kind of wedding. Hire someone who has done it often, not just someone who says he can do it.

So take the time to invest wisely in the right photographer for your destination wedding, and you'll be enjoying those pictures for many years to come.

Don Fuchs July 14, 2015