Okay, this was probably one of the coolest oppertunities I have had in my life so far. Last winter I set a few goals for myself and one of them was to shoot more destination weddings. I had no idea how to do that or reach that adventurous audience, so I just guessed and put up an ad in an international bridal group on facebook. I barely had any response, except for one woman who asked me if she could send me a private message for more information.
We talked the entire evening. She was an Indonesian woman, soon to marry her fiancé from England who she met while studying in the UK. I loved their story and was overwhelmed with happiness that someone who lived at the other side of the world would even consider me to shoot this special moment. She told me that the wedding ceremony would be held over several days since everything had to go according to Javanese tradition, and I almost peed my pants out of excitement. We discussed further details and I very enthousiastically typed YES when she asked if I was still up for the job.
To outsiders, the situation seemed a bit sketchy and hard to believe. And I got that. I also could hardly believe that a stranger from another continent actually thought I was good enough to fly me over and capture her wedding. So when she asked me if I might also know and trust a good videographer, I suggested to take my dear friend & incredible videographer Stef Debonne. She was immediately smitten with his video’s, so I got to travel to Indonesia with one of my best friends to capture this journey. Things just got more epic.
Our plane & stay was booked and I’m not going to lie, we felt like absolute rockstars flying there. The day after our arrival we finally met the couple and their family and everything just fell into place. They treated us like one of their own and we felt so welcome!
Capturing the following days was a true challenge, but it was so much fun. Since we were not really familiar with the rituals, the amount of people or the language that was spoken most of the time, it was kind of a chaotic job. And since every single Indonesian guest seemed to want to have a selfie taken with us, we were constantly interrupted while shooting. But once again, it made us feel like rockstars, so that is quite alright. We got traditional dressing ropes & everyday our face was stuffed with food. The celebrations were beautiful and I got a bit emotional that I was so lucky to experience something so unique.
At the end of the week we were so exhausted that we fell asleep at 5 in the afternoon after the last celebration. But saying goodbyes with a few beers with the couple and their family made it all worth it. I flew back home with the biggest smile on my face, wondering what other adventures might also come my way. Maybe also because I left for another wedding in Mexico the day after… :D
A few tips to land weddings in other continents
- Build a strong portfolio that is internationally oriented
Uh, what? Let me break it down for you. If you want to attract people who might consider marrying abroad or are from another country, you first got to show them that you can work in the enviroment that they have in mind. You have to be worth the while to pay all the travelexpenses for, am I right?
So if you have any travelplans coming up, contact couples that already live in that area or might be travelling there as well. That way you can not only create a killerportfolio, you will also have a network of people all over the world! That always comes in handy, I'd say.
The more pictures of couples you show taken in different countries or different kind of natural situations (think: beach, mountainscape, desert, waterfalls,..) the more likely people are to book you for adventures like these because they have faith that you will be up for the job.
- Post your own traveldates on socials & websites
Instead of searching for couples yourself, you can also let your couples come to you by publishing your travelplans. You can offer them a discount for a shoot in a specific destination where you really want to shoot and they don't have to pay for your travelexpenses because you will already be there!
- Facebook is (still) your friend
Photographers are saying that Facebook is dead and Instagram is the new place to be. That can be true, but that causes Instagram to be overly saturated with photographers until you cannot tell anymore who is who. That's where Facebook still comes in handy. Facebook is still the place to be for communities since they have the option to form groups. Join a few groups of fellow photographers, of wedding vendors, of brides, of weddings abroad, of travellers,... The list goes on and on and I have seen people looking for photographers in all of the ones mentioned above. I've gotten so many jobs through Facebook groups, probably even more than through Instagram until now. I've gotten jobs through a female only travelgroup by a girl who wanted someone to take nice shots of her while she was travelling alone, for example. It also never hurts to introduce yourself as a photographer when you enter a group like that, but make sure you're not just advertising yourself.
- If you're ideal client is there, MAKE SURE THEY STAY (but don't work for free!)
So a couple sends you an invoice e-mail saying that they are superadventurous and are getting married in a badass villa on the edge of a cliff in Bali. KEEP YOUR
COOL. Be excited, but professional. Name your prices like it would be any other client, but you can maybe hint that you might give a little discount for a great oppertunity like that.
But whatever you do, don't do these jobs for free. Why not? 2 reasons.
1. You put in an awhful amount of work and time in it. You're traveltime is way bigger than a local wedding, so you lose days you could otherwise use for other work. Also, if you work for free there are no boundaries to when to stop working, because you haven't got clear communication about hours etc. Chances are high that you will work a lot more and longer than you would on local jobs, because prices mean exact hours and working for free doesn't.
2. The client will respect you less, because you have less respect for yourself. You are a hardworking entrepreneur who has to pay the bills, so why the hell work for peanuts? You're client will take you less serious if you don't charge the right amount.
Hope these tips help you! Feel free to send me a message if you'd have any questions.
Enjoy the photostory of the traditional Javanese wedding!