Top Ten Tips for Photographing a Destination Wedding

Gene Ho Destination Wedding Jamaica
Gene Ho of Gene Ho Photography

Tips for Destination Weddings by Gene Ho

First. First let me give you my destination wedding credentials: My studio has done multiple weddings in Paris, Mexico, and most of the Caribbean Islands.

Been there, done that and want more…

But on top of that – we regularly do weddings that are outside of our general market. In short – we’re all seasoned travelers.

Here are my tips if you are one of the lucky few that get to shoot a beautiful wedding in a remote location. And by the way – it is for sure a badge of honor whenever someone is willing to fly you into a place to work. It’s a career highlight for sure.

Gene Ho Destination Wedding Jamaica

Destination Wedding Jamaica by Gene Ho


10). Understand the difference between “Travel Fee” and “Downtime Fee.” Here’s the difference:

A Travel Fee is your hard cost of what it cost YOU and your assistant to travel to an actual location.

A Downtime Fee is the cost of your “wasted time” as you travel “to and fro” your destination. For example – You have a Saturday wedding in Paris. You have to fly in on Thursday and you’re not coming back home until say Monday… so you have to account for the loss of income for the extended travel.

9). The Travel Fee is ALWAYS Fixed. These are HARD COSTS. This is reasonable and every bride knows this.

And this is the one thing we never bend on.

The easiest way to negotiate this is for YOU to tell the bride what you need. Plane ticket there. Hotel room. LET your bride carry the hard cost for you. Let them arrange that for you.

8). “Downtime Fee” is what is negotiable.

Easiest way to include that cost is to make something mandatory. Here’s what I do. I make my downtime fee the “Rehearsal Night Coverage.” Easiest way to cover the Downtime Fee is to say – “Hey… I have to be there the day before anyway. There’s no downtime fee if you buy the rehearsal night coverage.” In short – you can’t get “nothing” for being there. Sure – it’s great to be in Cancun. But you’re not making money on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Yes – you’re on a beach somewhere – but you can also chill with a beer at home. Negotiate a Downtime Fee of some sort – but give them something for it.

Gene Ho Destination Wedding Jamaica

Destination Wedding Jamaica by Gene Ho

7). MUST CHECK that you’re even legally allowed to shoot where you are going.

There are some places where you are legally NOT ALLOWED to shoot. Case in point… some “All Inclusive Resorts.” Some of them INSIST that their bride’s use their resort photographer. This is no joke. They are on “private property” and they call the shots. Last thing you want to do go there and they say you can’t shoot. And they aren’t dumb. The ol’ “This isn’t a pro photographer – this is my cousin shooting my wedding” bit won’t work.

6). Make sure you have all ducks in a line

Passport, driver’s license and most of all – how you contact your home. If you are a US Citizen – your direct line to the United States is through your U.S. Representative – your congressman.

Do you know who that person is? Do you know how to contact him/her? Know that person’s name. He or She is YOUR representative in case anything happens from losing your passport in another country to legal troubles in another country.

Gene Ho Destination Wedding Paris

Destination Wedding Paris by Gene Ho




Best tip ever when traveling. Take it from a person who has lost computer cords – cell phone chargers, camera battery chargers and even eye glasses when I’m on the road. I’ve lost so much when I’m on the road.

So… Greatest tip ever. When you get into the hotel – put all your stuff in two or three spots only.

I will go even further. I keep all my tooth paste – contact lens case… tooth brush… I keep ALL of that to the RIGHT of the hotel sink. I look at the sink and I know ALL my stuff is to the right of it.

My clothes? They go all on one spot at the hotel room.

And I always know where my important papers are.

Basically? It’s so easy to lose things when you travel. Make it a point to designate areas in your hotel room where things go. It will save you tons of heartache.

4). Remember that you aren’t on vacation.

Yes – you NEED to enjoy yourself – but you are NOT on vacation. You are there to work. Don’t party too much. Remember you are there to work.

3). After your wedding

Burn a copy of your wedding on DVD and mail it to yourself. Either that are upload into a cloud service your RAWS from the wedding.

I’m not being morbid – but I am being paranoid…

What would happen if going through customs – and they confiscate your camera and computer?

What would happen if you’re at the airport and someone steals your laptop?

Get your RAWS out of the country as fast as possible. You owe it to your bride.


This is the number one tip here. If you do nothing else. EMBODY your location.

Last thing you want is for your bride to say to you… “OMG – I spent all this money to have my wedding in PARIS and the wedding photos are GREAT – but it no one can tell I was in Paris!!!”


In short – make sure your wedding photos show where you are at.

And finally…

Gene Ho Destination Wedding Paris

Destination Wedding Paris by Gene Ho


Really – do your job – but really soak it up.


Nothing beats great memories.

Do your job – but savor every moment of it!

Gene Ho

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