Over the past 8 years of shooting weddings, the majority of them have been in Northwest Arkansas and with people that I had some connection. I’ve loved doing this and loved all of my clients, but I’m ready to expand. Before I was pretty limited by when and where I could shoot by my other job. I probably couldn’t have travelled, and I definitely didn’t put any effort into finding these weddings. Now that I am focusing on photography, I’m wanting to change that, and I’m looking into how to become a traveling wedding photographer.
How to Become a Traveling Wedding Photographer
I am not an expert on this obviously, so all of this is just what I plan on doing. Whether or not any of it works will be seen in the next few years. I’m sure some of my ideas will work better than others, and I’m sure I’ll come up with some new ideas along the way.
My first step is using advertisements to either get connections, build relationships, or get weddings. Ads these days can be done relatively cheaply, and the great thing is you can use them to target exactly who you want. I can create an ad and pick the area that is shown to, allowing me to focus on certain cities. My plan is to mainly use Facebook ads for this because I can spend anywhere from $50-$200 and get dozens of leads in one city. I’m experimenting with this idea right now. I’m going to target a closer big city to see how it works out, and then I’ll take what I learn and apply it to places further away. The other option for advertising would be to use something like the Knot or Weddingwire. The problem with this is that it is relatively expensive, and I believe you pay for every city you want to be listed in. Right now I’m paying around $600 a year and that’s just for Arkansas. If I wanted to do New York City and a bunch of others, that would be in the thousands.
One way I get a lot of my Arkansas business is through the other wedding vendors. I have good relationships with venue owners, wedding planners, and other photographers, and they will often refer brides to me. This could work the same way in other cities. If I can get to know influential vendors in different cities, then I should be able to start photographing wedding there.
The problem is that it’s hard to start that relationship. I believe in always doing things for others, and it’s hard to do that before you know someone. Also, these vendors aren’t going to recommend someone they don’t know.
My hope is to start reaching out to some of these vendors, and at least start having a conversation with them. Then, if I get a wedding near them or with them, I can continue to build that trust and relationship.
Travel and do shoots
This idea sounds like the most fun for me. I tend to go on a trip at least once or twice in a year. When I do this, it would be smart to set up some kind of shoot in that city. That way, I can build up my portfolio and also possibly build relationships with the people there. Who knows, it might even turn the trip into a tax deduction.
Shoot for Free
People love free stuff, and very few people will turn down something if it is free. This is the method I plan on using the most, and probably with every one of the above ideas. When I do advertising, I’ll offer a free wedding. From that, I am guaranteed one wedding to start things off, but then I’ll also have a ton of other leads to work with. The same goes with all the other things. I can do free shoots for vendors when I’m traveling and it shouldn’t be hard to find a model to do it.
This whole process of becoming a traveling photographer will take some thought and effort, but in the end it should be worth it. If you only shoot in one area, the amount of brides is limited to that area, but when you start shooting all over the country, that bride pool just tripled or more. As I go through this process of how to become a traveling wedding photographer, I’ll write some more blogs to document it all. Hopefully this will really take off and hopefully I can help others do the same.