Is Destination Photography everything it is hyped to be? Or is it more about prestige than practicality?
As a resident shooter who has spent the better part of the last decade working along the east coast of Australia, I have to say I feel very fortunate. The wedding landscape here is beautiful. Sandy dunes and rocky cliffs line our shores, while vast plains and rolling hills comprise our hinterland. Over the years therefore, I have not only learnt to utilize the natural splendor of my surrounding terrain, but also the seasonal and weather patterns. While this may not sound like much, it is actually super helpful; as it enables me to look at a potential client’s wedding day schedule, and make good suggestions in regard to optimal lighting times based on where and when they are getting married.
Now, the argument goes: that a good photographer can create spectacular pixels anywhere; and I wholeheartedly agree. But, local knowledge is more than just a vague advantage. For example: in addition to being able to read the weather better, a native photographer might be privy to secret shooting spots they’ve discovered over time, which they know offer stunning backdrops like no other. Perhaps it’s a set of abandoned train tracks overgrown with wild grass, or maybe a safe perch near a water fall with seemingly no access except for a concealed path that only a few are familiar with. And at the end of the day, these intangibles are exactly the things that can add magic to a shoot.
Not to mention, destination gigs are not the greatest when it comes to simple ROI (Return on Investment). Even if the couple hiring you are willing to pay your airfare and/or accommodation, the extra time spent on travel does add up. Sure, some photographers might use the opportunity to take a mini holiday, seeing as they are already making the trip, but this almost always translates to further costs, which kind of negates the original purpose of the trip.
Another thing for potential clients to watch out for, are photographers who market themselves as ‘destination specialists.’ Because from experience, they can sometimes be local photographers who have lost their market share to superior rivals. Hence, the need for a change in label, since they no longer have steady clientele. Of course, this is not always the case; and there are plenty of destination photographers who are very good at what they do. So I guess what I’m saying is, as long as you do your research, you should be just fine 🙂
To conclude, destination photography can certainly be rewarding for professionals who enjoy the wanderlust lifestyle. So if that resonates with you, maybe you are just the right type of artist for the job!