As wedding photographers, we have lofty dreams and wishes of photographing destination weddings one day (if you have not done so already). When we hear the term “destination weddings,” we imagine photographing a bride and groom against a backdrop of a tropical island in the Caribbean or a medieval castle tucked away in the Italian Alps. We get excited by the idea of having clients cover travel expenses so that we can fly to the other side of the world to do what we love – make beautiful photographs. While the above benefits are definitely true, there are many other things to consider when it comes to having a successful destination wedding photography career.
I have taught workshops and seminars on this topic and I wish I could take the next several hours just to talk about it here. However, for the purpose of this post, I will focus on just one aspect – how to set up a business that is not tied to one specific location.
Accessibility & Speed
One of the most common compliments I get from my clients is that I am always available. When clients are planning their destination weddings, some questions they have are time sensitive. So I always make an effort to respond immediately or within 12 hours maximum. We live in an era when communication tools are in the palm of our hand – so we have no excuse. Equip yourself with a phone or a tablet device. I also have clients in all different time zones around the world, which means my schedule must be flexible. My 9am to 5pm workday is not necessarily my client’s 9am to 5pm workday. So, have a world clock ready to track your client’s local time and then respond to them accordingly.
I spend about half to two-thirds of the year on the road. While this might sound crazy to some people, I enjoy and welcome the change. It reminds me that it does not take much to run a photography studio. Technology enables me to make my studio a portable one. With the help of my Macbook Pro, iPhone and the iPad, I can present my work to my clients everywhere. In May 2012, one of my clients flew me to New York for an engagement session. During the trip, I was also able to meet with two potential clients (one in their home and one in my hotel lobby). Using my iPad, I was able to show various sample albums and portfolio images. I also had my GraphiStudio Material Swatch book, which contains the types of products that I offer. Using these resources, I was able to book two weddings that weekend; one in Cancún, Mexico and another in Cork, Ireland. This was a good reminder that an excellent presentation does not have to come in the form of a physical space.
Build a Team Around You
A common misconception people have about my business is that Kenny Kim Photography is a “one-man show.” While I do personally show up to all of my client’s weddings, behind me is a team of people I employ to run my portable studio. In a nutshell, it is important to make a list of two things:
- Tasks you must do.
- Tasks others can do. Having a company like Pictage that handles all my orders is great because I don’t have to worry about order fulfillment for my clients in California while I am photographing my clients in Italy. Or if a client is not happy with a print job, Pictage is there to take care of my needs. I also have a full-time accountant who oversees all of my expenses.
I have just scratched the surface regarding this topic. But if you begin with these basic principles, you’re on your way to becoming a destination wedding photographer. 🙂 If you are interested in learning more about this topic in an unique environment, I am hosting PhotoVenture Tours to Italy this Fall from November 6-12. See you on the other side!
About Kenny Kim
Kenny Kim has always been fascinated by the visual arts, especially the connection between art and photography. This passion led him to study graphic design at the University of Illinois where he also became a Web designer. But he eventually realized that the greatest outlet for his artistic expression and technical skills would be through his passion for photography. With the launch of Kenny Kim Photography in 2006, his vision instantly resonated with his audience, and Kenny Kim Photography very quickly grew into a nationally recognized studio. Kenny has captured over 150+ weddings in locations throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and in Italy.
Kenny is one of Kodak’s Approved Speakers and Mentors for 2011 & 2012. He has been recently voted by Destination Weddings & Honeymoon Magazine as a Top 20 A-List Destination Photographer.
Kenny is the author of “Wedding Photographer’s Planner” & “Digital Wedding Photography Photo Workshop,” both which are comprehensive books for wedding photographers to help them plan and execute a successful shoot.