If you’re listening to this and have thought about diving into elopements after only shooting weddings for your photography career, or you’re just getting started but know you’d like to shoot more elopements, then listen up.
I’m going to put it bluntly: shooting elopements are a bit different than shooting weddings.
Some might look at them as a little more laid back, easy going, less stressful, more creative, more emotional, more intentional, more flexible. And all of this is true from my own personal experience.
However, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t still planning and a timeline involved. In fact, as a photographer who markets as also an elopement planner, there tends to be a little MORE planning as a part of our responsibility.
Today, I want to give you some tips on how to shoot elopements and how to give your clients the best experience as an elopement photographer.
- I recommend being familiar with the outdoors. If you’re looking to branch out into the adventurous elopement photography industry, most of this occurs outdoors. It might also require hiking, camping, cold or hot weather, and some exhausting activities. It’s best to dive into this with a passion o be outside – and also a familiarity on how to be outside.
Most of the time, you are acting as a guide for this couple, and they are depending on you to lead them through being outside. That means, it’s best to be well-equipped with out door survival tips and first aid qualifications in case anything goes wrong, as well as understanding the landscape of where you are shooting. That means knowing what dangers lie there, how to be aware and prepared, and how to make sure everyone is SAFE so we can all have fun.
I’m personally CPR certified and also have some outdoor survival training for this. While this isn’t required with the job, it is a good skill to have in case things go south which unfortunately is always a possibility. Safety first!
It’s also important to LEAVE NO TRACE and to understand what that means. Educating yourself on where is okay to travel, step, or explore, and what lands are not allowed to be traveled on. Also, if you don’t have a passion for being outdoors, this may not be the facet of wedding photography for you.
- Bring extra snacks, food, warm clothing, hiking boots, and a backpack that’s fit for hiking. Some of my favorite snacks to bring are cliff bars, applesauce to go packets, and trail mix. For jackets, I love my Patagonia – it’s lightweight but can also withstand really cold temperatures. Good hiking boots are also really important! I have waterproof shoes from the brand Forsake and have had them for a long time. They last a while! For backpacks, there are many options. One of the most popular is the Shimoda Bag from Moment. But do your research! Some photographers use Osprey bags and have attachable straps on the bag so they can have easy access.
- Have a backup plan. With adventurous elopements, weather can change very quickly and can be unpredictable. It’s good to be safe, which means not climbing to the top of a mountain during a thunderstorm. So instead, have at least 3 back up plans in case the first one doesn’t work out because of weather. Also, plan for a variety of options – one that has good covering in case of rain, one that is easier to get to in case of snow or rainy thunderstorm weather, and one that is obviously just as epic but not as dangerous. Having a backup plan not only makes you look prepared and professional, but also allows your couple to trust you even if the weather become unpredictable. It puts them at ease knowing you’ve got some back up plans just in case.
- Get ready to document every moment – even the in between moments. Some of my favorite photos from elopements are the ones that are just truly raw and unplanned. I love to be the documenter in the scenario – getting literally every moment possible. Because that’s why my clients hired me – they want those intentional moments captured and remembered forever. Even if it’s not the prettiest photo and it’s blurry or not centered, I still want to give it to them because it’s a memory that they will have forever to hold onto. SO be ready to capture at all times whilst on the clock. Have your camera accessible and ready to go at all times for those moments, and truly focus on capturing the story of the day.
These are just some easy tips to be thinking about as you get started shooting elopements. While there are many other things to go over on this topic, I think these are some of the most important to consider.
And don’t forget to HAVE FUN! Being outside and getting to do this job is SO COOL, so make sure to enjoy it with your couple as well!