Must Have List of Items to Take when Shooting Destination Weddings

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I love destination weddings. You get to travel (my passion), visit awesome locations and photograph clients in a new environment full of possibilities. While this all sounds exciting, there are definitely some downsides to photographing weddings away from your home turf. One is – you give up the opportunity to photograph more than one wedding on any given weekend. You better love the destination and want to spend a little extra time there. There are many other items to consider, so here is my list of eight must-have items to bring with you and tips to help you enjoy the experience.

  1. Bring less gear. This is difficult because I usually roll with a ton of gear at local weddings. Typically I lay all my gear out and review it for what I absolutely need. Two camera bodies and maybe 3-4 lens. It is amazing what you can create with a minimalist kit.
  2. A roller camera bag that fits in the luggage bin of your airplane. Double check what the regulations are for your airline. Also if your airline offers premium boarding for a minimum charge – do it! That way the bins will not be full and you will not have to gate check your camera bag. (Every photographer’s nightmare). I use the Vanguard Alta Fly 48T Roller Bag.
  3. Extra camera batteries, AA batteries for your flashes and chargers for camera batteries. If you are in an exotic location and your batteries die with no backup – you know the saying –“up the creek without a paddle”.
  4. Computer, card reader and a portable hard drive. Download the images to your computer and then to a portable hard drive as soon as you can. This way you will have three copies. I always take the portable hard drive with me when I leave the hotel room – for insurance.
  5. Cables for the above and your phone. I have a little zippered pouch that I travel with all the time that contains every cable known to man. Nothing worse than pulling out your card reader and not having a cable to attach it to your computer.
  6. A file folder with the following printed materials. Travel itinerary, client information and contact info, wedding timeline, vendor contact info, and some sample images of the venue you have downloaded from doing research on Google. I always try to do enough venue research – that when I arrive, it does not feel foreign to me. It is important to print all this data – do not rely on a digital version on your phone or computer.
  7. Meds! The stomach and flu kind. Food and water is very different around the world. The last thing you need is to get sick while you are there to capture a wedding. Over the counter medicines like Imodium, Advil and Pepto-Bismol are fine for general travel. If you are traveling to an exotic location – go visit your doctor and get a prescription for some “just in case” medicine.
  8. Pack the right clothes for the trip. What is the dress code for the wedding? Be sure to plan for inclement weather and don’t forget your bathing suit if the destination is warm and sunny!

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While different from your regular weddings – destination photography can be fun and give you a chance to visit some awesome locations around the world. I like them because they afford me the opportunity to stretch my creativity and create new images.

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William Innes is a Los Angeles wedding photographer.

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