So You Want to Be a Destination Wedding Photographer?

How to determine if the travel-centric job is right for you
Flickr/San Diego Shooter

It’s just about every traveler’s dream to see the world for free, or better yet, to get paid to travel. The good news is there are a surprising number of jobs out there that require (and finance) travel. The not-so-good news—some of these dream jobs can turn out to be nightmares if you go in with the wrong expectations.

Travel jobs can be a lot of fun, but at the end of the day your job is the primary reason you’re there. It’s important to realize you’ll be working—not vacationing—for most of the time. But for those driven by adventure, with a severe case of wanderlust, there are quite a few jobs that will pay for you to travel.

A destination wedding photographer is a professional photographer who captures weddings in exotic locations.

Is this the right job for you?
Like any facet of professional photography, the main requirement is proficiency, skill and creativity behind the camera. Aside from the actual photos, destination wedding photographers need to be great communicators, very adaptable and they need to build a strong online presence and cohesive brand.

What qualifications do you need to be a destination wedding photographer?
Most professional photographers study photography in a formal school, learn from a more experienced photographer or, most often, do both. Once you have the skills down, it’s all about building your portfolio and references. A strong sampling of your work from the past is your best shot at landing jobs in the future, so building an impressive portfolio is essential.

How much do destination wedding photographers get paid?
Most wedding photographers set their own rates based on many variables including experience and the amount of work that will go into capturing a wedding. Beginners might not make much money but expert photographers who can also run their own business effectively can make a great living shooting weddings—some charge upwards of $10,000 per wedding.

Whether it’s bundled into the package (which several professionals recommend) or a separate charge entirely, the photographer doesn’t typically pay for flights, hotels or other travel expenses. If you’re looking for a job that allows you to be creative while visiting some of the most beautiful places on earth and you have the skills, a career as a destination wedding photographer might be your calling.

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