7 Tricks of the Trade for Taking Breathtaking Destination Wedding Photos

7 Tricks of the Trade for Taking Breathtaking Destination Wedding Photos
7 Tricks of the Trade for Taking Breathtaking Destination Wedding Photos

With destination weddings becoming a booming trend, more and more couples are opting for far-off places to pronounce their “I dos.” This lucrative evolution in the wedding industry has given rise to professional photographers who specialize in destination wedding photography. Amazing perks aside, destination weddings present unique challenges to photographers.

Whether it’s a winter wedding at Lake Tahoe or a beach getaway in the Caribbean, destination wedding photographers must be able to adapt to the nuances of each location.

And while a destination wedding photography business is a fascinating and exciting experience, with some amazing perks, it’s important photographers take into consideration all the different aspects and factors that play a role in developing a successful wedding photography business.

To help you capture those stunning wedding photos of the bride and groom, here are some important tricks of the trade from an experienced wedding photographer.

1. Make sure your gear is with you at all time

Few things can ruin the perfect destination wedding photoshoot like losing your checked luggage. And unlike most other wedding shoots, not every location will have a handy camera store that carries your missing gear.

To make matters worse, sometimes, there’s simply no time to locate a camera store to replace your missing gear. It’s vital that you arrive with all your gear in tow. If possible, try to arrive a day or two before to scout out the wedding locale and address the potential issue of missing gear.

2. Protect and backup your images

An often forgotten aspect of traveling abroad for a destination wedding shoot is the importance of protecting your images. The likelihood of losing important wedding shots significantly increases when traveling abroad due to potential theft, lost luggage, or even damage. Backing up images should be an integral part of your destination wedding photography checklist.

Along with your gear, bring a small hard drive, extra memory cards, and access to a cloud server. This will ensure your images are safe and secure when traveling.

3. Incorporate iconic landmarks in your photos

Couples who favor destination weddings or traditional at home weddings do so for several reasons. And one of the main reasons is for the amazing photo ops. Being a destination wedding photographer means you’re not limited to the scenery surrounding the local banquet hall.

Seek out the iconic landmarks of their chosen destination. Incorporating unmistakable landscapes enables your clients to feel like they’ve truly gotten their money’s worth and a treasure trove of memories set in an unforgettable location.

4. Research, research, research

When shooting for a destination wedding, you need to do some research about the rules, restrictions or potential permits required. If you don’t know much about the chosen destination, do some exhaustive research beforehand.

Browse through Google to map out and find iconic landmarks to incorporate into your shots, and any rules and regulations to be considerate of regarding the chosen locales. Before departing, seek out local photographers. Their knowledge of the destination will come in handy once the big day arrives.

5. Arrive a day or two early

Preparation is key when creating the ultimate destination wedding photo shoot. Arriving a few days early enables you to scout out the locations previously agreed upon between you and your clients. These extra few days provide the perfect opportunity for you to establish what gear you’ll need for the big day. 

The goal when shooting a destination wedding is to capture not only the bride and groom but also the beautiful scenery around them. The extra days you get before the shoot will enable you to do some test shots of locations to establish appropriate exposure, and the right positioning needs to backlight your subjects.

6. Bring an assistant

Like any other wedding photo shoot, an assistant is crucial to capturing the perfect moments of the wedding day. As some locations limit the use of tripods or light stands (think NYC), an assistant can serve to carry the extra gear required to get the right shots. Not to mention, having an assistant makes the trip easier to manage, and they are a great pair of extra hands particularly if your destination is a foreign urban city.

7. Expect the unexpected

The appeal of warm or winter weather, and breathtaking scenery make it easy to forget that you are traveling to a foreign location to shoot one of the biggest days for your clients.

When jetting off to your destination wedding photo shoot, be prepared for the unexpected. Unlike traditional indoor weddings, certain elements will always be out of your control. Be flexible with your timeframe and as always, clearly communicate the creative process with your clients.

Getting the couple involved in the creative process may just create some of the most stunning, spur of the moment photos you get from that day.


The rise of easy travel access means destination weddings are big business. If you’re at the fledgling stages of your photography business or have been shooting professionally for a while and want to venture into destination wedding photography, these tricks of the trade will go a long way in ensuring every destination wedding photo shoot you do goes off without a hitch.

Written by Linda Pasfield