As adventure elopements become more trendy it seems like every wedding photographer is trying to become an elopement photographer! And man, I get it!
Every day in photography groups someone asks the question “I really want to start photographing adventure elopements! HOW do I get started?”.
Its easy to understand why so many people want to photograph elopements! The chance to take epic photos of awesome people in beautiful places is really tough to pass up … but there is a LOT more that goes into it than most people think and if you’re hiring a photographer for your elopement its SUPER important that you jive with them and that they know what they are doing!!
There are tons of lists floating around the internet of things to ask your wedding photographer. For the most part, I think those lists are a little silly (any photographer worth their salt will be doing all of those things!) but when it comes to photographing elopements, it’s a bit different. Elopements, especially ones they happen way out in nature, are special beasts that require a specific skill set. I’m here to help you figure out what you should ask (or at least be thinking about!) when looking for a photographer for your elopement!
Will you help me find a location?
This is a HUGE one! Most couples who are planning adventure elopements don’t really know exactly where they want to get married (outside of “Colorado!” or “Iceland!” or “Somewhere in Europe!”) and they often need a lot of help nailing down an exact location. Sure, anyone can Google “places to elope in Colorado” but that will bring up a bunch of the same old locations that everyone uses and are often very crowded. If you are wanting a super private, personal experience for your elopement (and you should want this! most people are eloping because they DON’T want a ton of attention!), you’re going to find an incredible and off-the-beaten-path spot. This is where your photographer can be invaluable.
A good elopement photographer wears MANY hats … including that of planner and location scout. Trust me when I say that a good elopement photographer is worth their weight in gold in terms of helping you find amazing places that you had probably never thought of to say your vows and spend one of the best days of your life. We’re all a little different in how we do this but for me, I dive super deep with my couples into what they envision for their day (what do they see, hear, smell …) and then make custom suggestions for them based on my obsession with adventure, travel, and Google Earth! Find someone that is stoked to help you plan this thing!
2. How much hiking experience do you have? // Have you ever hiked to this altitude? // Are you comfortable in the backcountry?
This is a HUGE one. I see so so so many aspiring elopement photographer say that they want to start photographing adventure elopements … so they’re going to get into hiking. They have it backwards!!
If you are paying your photographer a lot of money to take you into the backcountry for the biggest day of your life it is SUPER important that this isn’t their first rodeo when it comes to hiking! Photographing hiking elopements combines both hiking AND photography and its a LOT harder than you’d think. If you’re planning a hiking elopement, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, make sure that they have a LOT of experience in the backcountry! This is super fun but super physical work and having a photographer who suddenly learns they’re not up for the task will make things go south real fast!
There are also some special considerations depending on where you are. For example, here in Colorado, if you are planning to do a high altitude hike for your elopement I’d definitely ask your photographer about their experience at high altitudes. Altitude sickness is a very real thing and you don’t want your photographer to learn that they get it in the middle of your elopement!
3. What is your philosophy about elopements? // Why do you love photographing elopements?
Every couple has a different reason for why they’re eloping and something different that they want to get out of their day. For some couples it really IS all about the epic photos … and there is nothing wrong with that! There are plenty of photographer who will be more than happy to spend a few hours with you taking some cool shots and jetting!
My approach is a little different. I view elopements as being more about the experience you have on that day than the epic photo ops we get (although, don’t worry, we always get them!). Its about the two of you having the best damn time of your life in a beautiful place on the day you get married. The photos are the product of that, not the point of it!
Asking your potential photographer why they think elopements matter or why they love photographing them so much and see if their answer jives with you and what you want for your day. There is NO one right or wrong way to do this – its all about finding a perfect fit.
4. Can you help me plan my day?
Photographing elopements is different than photographing traditional weddings in that the elopement photographer often does double duty as a planner, coordinator, tour guide, and all around enabler of awesome ideas. A good elopement photographer will not only take amazing photos but also come up for suggestions on things to do (that you probably haven’t thought of!), how the day should flow, other awesome vendors you may want to work with, and how to time things for killer photos.
The bottom line is that you’ve probably never done this before but an experienced elopement photographer has been a part of MANY of these days! Pick one that can help you make it extra awesome!!
The Bottom Line
There is a common misconception in the wedding photography world that elopements are easier to photograph than traditional weddings and while SOME part of the day may be easier, the truth is that they are just a totally different beast! Being an elopement photographer means working super closely with couples to help them have their best days EVER, helping them build intentional days around what makes them unique, and being able to handle whatever conditions Mother Nature throws your way!
Your elopement photographer is going to be one of VERY few people who are present for your day and will be the *only* source of photos you have to remember it by. Make sure that you find someone who can help you every step of the way and who you trust to be there for your most most intimate moments!
Questions? I’m always happy to help! Feel free to reach out here!