“How far do you travel for a wedding?” I get asked this a lot. The answer isn’t that simple.
Photographers no longer get all their business locally. With the internet and social media wedding couples are looking further afield to get their suppliers for their wedding. They find a photographer they like online and get in touch. Certainly, you just have to look at my wedding bookings for the next two years – totally all over the place! Some local, some within an hours drive, some over, a couple in a different country!
So, when the Bride and Groom are looking for their photographer the subject of travel comes up. “How far do you travel for a wedding?”. Well so far the furthest I’ve traveled is about 5000 miles but that’s not really a practical answer. When they ask that question it’s because they want to know that A) I’ll be able to photograph their wedding and B) If it will cost extra.
My answer is this: I consider an hour’s drive (sometime an hour and a half) to a wedding as ‘normal’. That’s an hour there and an hour back. I’m based right in the middle of Ireland so within reason this covers Galway and Dublin too.
If I need to go further then it gets complicated. Why? Well, mainly because there are two factors to consider. Firstly cost. Driving further costs me more in fuel and time away from my business. And anyone who’s run their own business will know that time is money. Really, it is.
Secondly, Effort. Photographing a wedding takes a LOT of effort. It is physically and mentally hard work. There is no rest, no letup. Constant thinking, planning, shooting, checking, talking, organising, directing etc. Just ask any wedding photographer how tired they are at the end of a wedding. They’ll all say the same – “exhausted”! To add a lot of driving on top is even more tiring. Driving while tired is dangerous.
Let’s take a random example and I’ll try to get across what I need to consider: A wedding in Achill/Mulranny. Popular place for weddings. Fab part of the world. I love it there. Look at a map and it doesn’t look that far from Athlone. However, it takes at least 2.5 hours to get there. That’s 5 hours of driving on top of 7-8 hours of photography. That’s 12-13 hours of non-stop work and concentration. What if I were photographing the first dance? Add another 3-4 hours. That’s a long day. Assuming I make it home in one piece I have to copy all the cards, make sure they are backed up and charge all the batteries (another 2 hours). What if I were doing a wedding the next day? I’d get perhaps 5 hours sleep before doing it all over again.
Hopefully you’ll understand why it’s complicated. I love doing weddings. I love doing weddings in new places. Far away places. But if I have to travel long distances for a wedding then I need to stay overnight nearby. Either the night before or the night after – depends if I have another wedding the next day. The cost of this stay, the fuel and the time away from my business and family needs to be covered.
Travel for a photographer is not an easy thing to quantify. Getting the right photographer for your wedding is really important. If the right photographer for you has to travel then please be understanding when they talk about travel/staying over. Also remember that ‘staying overnight’ isn’t a treat or a holiday for a photographer. It’s work.