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Thread started 05 Mar 2016 (Saturday) 20:01
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How do I get hired as an American to shoot destination weddings in India?

 
agrandexpression
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Mar 08, 2016 08:26 |  #16

laughingwillowphotogra​phy wrote in post #17927515 (external link)
Some of my favorite photographers, Simply Bloom, announce on their website "We will be in Paris these dates, Mexico these dates" etc. and then people book up their time while they're there.

If you're sought after that highly, then you should make an announcement as well.

I'd be willing to bet "Simply Bloom" wasn't announcing destination sessions with their first destination wedding...but if they were, it's likely demand was that high. Or they just really wanted to vacation that bad and took a stab that someone else might be interested.

laughingwillowphotogra​phy wrote in post #17927515 (external link)
I wish I had enough money to do business that way, but on principle I imagined they book a wedding in Europe and then used the rest of the month to continue working there. I thought my idea was along the same lines.

But do they have the first couple cover their costs for the duration of their stay?

laughingwillowphotogra​phy wrote in post #17927515 (external link)
I wasn't planning on asking the couple because I do think that's tacky, I was simply figured if the plane ticket costs the same round-trip, how I use my free time is up to me.

In my opinion, if you had figured travel costs into your quoted price...then sure...cost is cost. But if the couple volunteered to cover your travel cost in addition to your quoted price...then that travel paid for is solely for that couple. If you weren't planning on telling the couple of your intentions - I think in a way you're already admitting the idea is in poor taste at best, even to the point of being deceitful.

laughingwillowphotogra​phy wrote in post #17927515 (external link)
I appreciate looking at this from all angles, I don't think my idea is wrong from a strictly logical point of view, but from an emotional stand-point if the couple knew it might hurt their feelings for the reasons everyone mentioned. I will give it more thought, thanks everyone!

The way I see it, if producing images is your only concern...then you should do what gives you the best opportunity to do so. If developing relationships with clients is important, then I'd avoid any activity that might sabotage that relationship.




  
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agrandexpression
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Mar 08, 2016 08:29 |  #17

laughingwillowphotogra​phy wrote in post #17927525 (external link)
I'm just curious, is anyone that's commenting here a wedding photographer? You don't have to be one to comment on ethics of course (which wasn't really my question, so if you had a comment about my question, that would be even better...) but I'm seeing mostly beautiful:love: nature pictures... It would be awesome if someone with experience in the wedding field has encountered anything like this.

For whatever it's worth...I'm a wedding photographer that has done a destination wedding that the client has covered travel costs for.

To be blunt, I wouldn't do what you're considering...even if I can ethically justify it. And certainly wouldn't consider it without informing the involved party.




  
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supfresh
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Mar 08, 2016 08:35 as a reply to  @ post 17927515 |  #18

My take on ethics: I think what you are planning is very reasonable and would honestly be foolish to DO OTHERWISE.

-Wedding photography is a business, and if you can afford spending time in another country to cover multiple weddings to include in your portfolio, then by all means do it. Who knows what this will lead to? Also it'll be fun as hell.

-Also, what a lot of others aren't realizing in this thread, is that the booking couple is getting a deal on their wedding photography. Who knows what roots they have in India? From my experience, couples go back to India for weddings to fulfill their traditional dues, primarily for their big families that are there. Having said that, a lot of Indian couples still have roots embedded in the American culture, and would rather have a photographer they know and can be in contact with prior to their wedding, with more of a photographic style that is similar to the culture here. In short, what OP is providing is communication and a great package -even with airfare, in which the client is most likely happy they worked out and probably would not feel offended if OP pursued other business ventures while in India.

-There are so many shady people in this business, however your approach and diction in the way you presented your thought process demonstrates your honesty and good intention. This is expressed clearly and posters should honestly get his back about saying his actions are on the cusp of being crass.

-I do this pretty much all the time whenever I take a destination wedding -it becomes a mixture of a tiny vacation/portfolio building time frame.

-I however charge my clients a simple travel fee, that way I can book my own stay/flights and leave/stay as necessary. This avoids any unnecessary discussion of my professional ventures while I'm at their destination. You are right however in giving your booking couple utmost priority. As mentioned previously in this thread, perhaps mentioning it to your couple on your plans will help you book more couples through them, and you necessarily don't have to include information that you are doing it for 'cheaper'. Perhaps mentioning it to them will place you in contact with other couples and in which you can discuss packages for them, with them, in private.

-As for looking for networking, my go-to is to find appropriate Facebook groups to join (ie: Indian wedding photography, or Indian weddings), etc. Another suggestion is to use a translator to look for these groups in their native language, as it will generate more hits.

GL, and keep us posted! I'm pretty curious to see what outcome you have with this wedding.


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agrandexpression
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Mar 08, 2016 09:25 |  #19

supfresh wrote in post #17927953 (external link)
-Also, what a lot of others aren't realizing in this thread, is that the booking couple is getting a deal on their wedding photography.

supfresh wrote in post #17927953 (external link)
In short, what OP is providing is communication and a great package -even with airfare, in which the client is most likely happy they worked out and probably would not feel offended if OP pursued other business ventures while in India.

The lower cost of services relative the the current market doesn't automatically grant one permission to try to "round up as much business as possible". They couple may not care one bit...but I still feel it's good practice to inform them of your intentions. Like others said, they may even try to help you. But just assuming someone shouldn't get jaded over it because "I'm getting a great deal" may be a stretch.

If I'm shooting a wedding for $1500, when the local market averages $4000...would it be ok for me to go through the crowd and tell people "Hey, I'm offering professional head shots after the reception is over...I'll even throw in a discount if your entire table gets them done"

supfresh wrote in post #17927953 (external link)
-There are so many shady people in this business, however your approach and diction in the way you presented your thought process demonstrates your honesty and good intention. This is expressed clearly and posters should honestly get his back about saying his actions are on the cusp of being crass.

Not informing the clients is honest and good intentions? I respectfully disagree with the way you've spun this.

supfresh wrote in post #17927953 (external link)
-I however charge my clients a simple travel fee, that way I can book my own stay/flights and leave/stay as necessary. This avoids any unnecessary discussion of my professional ventures while I'm at their destination.

Right. I think this is how most destination photographers handle it. The clients don't cover the travel cost directly, but the cost of travel is built into the package price.




  
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supfresh
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Mar 08, 2016 10:07 |  #20

agrandexpression wrote in post #17928011 (external link)
The lower cost of services relative the the current market doesn't automatically grant one permission to try to "round up as much business as possible". They couple may not care one bit...but I still feel it's good practice to inform them of your intentions. Like others said, they may even try to help you. But just assuming someone shouldn't get jaded over it because "I'm getting a great deal" may be a stretch.

Based on the other responses in this thread, I was addressing the fact that many posters seem to be under the impression that the client is doing YOU a favor by hiring you as a destination wedding photographer. My point was in addressing that this is not the case, and that there are reasons he is being booked for a wedding in India.

Some people suggested that he might lose the gig by communicating his plans for getting other gigs. My viewpoint is that he should tell them, but not really held at decision gunpoint based on their response. Half of this job is diplomacy and communication, in my opinion, and can judge where he stands if/after he tells them. It just bothered me that people were responding like something was owed to the couple..

Perhaps if he changed the wording from saying along the lines of booking small weddings at lower prices to something like, "How can i get other gigs while at a destination?" this may have gotten a different general response, but the concept is still the same.

As for "undercutting competition" in the area while he's there is a sensitive subject and I think is more complex then just right and wrong. Granted, if his price point is well under the average market, I see these as clients I personally would probably never book. There is a price point that caters to all couples, and I think he's just trying to fit into the lower market for diversing his portfolio as well as making some extra cash while he's there.

For me personally, I understand where he's coming from. If it were my situation, it wouldn't really be about making cash, but rather getting as many weddings as I could for my portfolio to open up to a range of other audiences here in America. Lowering my price point would just be a method to try to book as many as I could for the sake of my portfolio while traveling. Still better than being a local and undercutting the competition by 50% like many do in over saturated markets in the US.

agrandexpression wrote in post #17928011 (external link)
Not informing the clients is honest and good intentions? I respectfully disagree with the way you've spun this.

I probably wasn't clear. I was applauding OP for being transparent, in contrast with many other shady people in this business, for his honesty and discussing full communication with his client.

TL;DR - I agree that he should communicate with his clients, but in the event that he doesn't, he shouldn't feel guilty or be reprimanded by the thread.


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agrandexpression
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Mar 08, 2016 10:42 |  #21

supfresh wrote in post #17928056 (external link)
Some people suggested that he might lose the gig by communicating his plans for getting other gigs. My viewpoint is that he should tell them, but not really held at decision gunpoint based on their response. Half of this job is diplomacy and communication, in my opinion, and can judge where he stands if/after he tells them. It just bothered me that people were responding like something was owed to the couple.

When the couple offers to pay for your travel accommodations in addition to your package pricing...I (and I think others too) feel there is a certain degree of obligation. No, the couple can't dictate how you spend your free time...but I think they'd be well within reason to expect some of the travel cost they are fronting be rescinded. After all, if they aren't the only reason you're going to be there...why should they cover all your travel expenses?

supfresh wrote in post #17928056 (external link)
I probably wasn't clear. I was applauding OP for being transparent, in contrast with many other shady people in this business, for his honesty and discussing full communication with his client.

TL;DR - I agree that he should communicate with his clients, but in the event that he doesn't, he shouldn't feel guilty or be reprimanded by the thread.

Maybe I misread then...but according to what I gathered, this is the exact opposite of what is taking place. OP hasn't told, and isn't planning on telling their client on the intention of trying to book additional weddings in India in the same time frame that they will be there for that client's wedding.

The client may have zero problem with it, and as suggested...might even help try to produce more leads. But as the situation stands right now, transparency/honesty/f​ull communication isn't what we're dealing with here.




  
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Mar 08, 2016 11:33 |  #22

It's not professional and I agree with another poster that it is crass. It's simply not done.


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Mar 08, 2016 13:27 |  #23

Ok So many moral/ethical advice..Keeping that aside I would like to highlight few practical issues why OP cannot do that.
1. I assume OP is not a PIO or OCI, so he has to travel on VISA.
2. Which VISA ?
a. Business VISA tied to just 1-wedding.. wedding finished OP finish his business.
b. Tourist VISA as a friend of the couple in question to attend the wedding
In either case OP cannot do commercial activity. If police gets hint of that he will be deported.
3. In India typically a Hindu hires hindu, Muslim hires Muslim and so on for critical job that requires extensive knowledge of religious customs and traditions. This is nothing to do with discrimination. Even same applies to different language too. In a Tamil wedding you will hardly find a photographer from north India who doesn't know Tamil.
4. No you cannot undercut Indian photographer price. You can get wedding photographer from $500 to $10000.
5. English is understood in every corner of India. English newspaper circulation was in India even before independence. Considering there are 100 different languages, English and Hindi are the preferred medium of advertisement.

Finally.. this is just a snapshot of moment of a hindu wedding I attended.

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Mar 08, 2016 16:20 |  #24

supfresh wrote in post #17927953 (external link)
....

-I however charge my clients a simple travel fee, that way I can book my own stay/flights and leave/stay as necessary. ...

That right there is the entire difference between "totally OK", even advisable, vs. "Not OK" IMHO.
It simply changes the entire nature of the arrangement, even though logically the line is so blurry.


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Mar 08, 2016 19:03 as a reply to  @ mzondeki's post |  #25

Thank you Mzondeki, your images are beautiful! I appreciate you giving me this valuable information, I had no idea about the Visa differences, I've never traveled outside the country (besides Canada) so I have a lot of research to do.

I don't know if this makes a difference but I'm a friend of the cousin of the bride. She is Indian but has lived in America for many years and her husband (just shot their American ceremony last week) is a white American. Looking at it from your perspective, maybe this situation may be different from reaching out to people who already live in India. I do think it's possible that the B&G considered having me there as a way for the groom to be comfortable, since this will be his first time in India too. It's a Telugu ceremony if that helps at all.


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Mar 08, 2016 19:22 as a reply to  @ supfresh's post |  #26

Hi Supfresh, thank you for your kind and understanding response! (By the way, I'm a girl, for future reference lol but no harm done) I try to be a very honest person in all my business dealings, what's most important is how I make my clients feel. I shot their American ceremony last week, and we had a great time together, the connection was lovely! If I thought that doing this would break down their trust or be unprofessional I wouldn't have considered it.

Although it seems like an attack on my character, everyone's honest responses have helped me look at things from another perspective which I do appreciate. In my eagerness to be a more affordable photographer for people who can't afford a $5,000-10,000 photographer, it escaped my thoughts that people might just not want me. It's true, I have no experience with Indian weddings and I wouldn't want to taint the experience in any way for the Indian couple.

I've been in the business 8 years, and shot over 100 weddings, and it's been an amazing learning experience. This forum -painfully- has reminded me that I have a lot more to learn lol ;-)a I hope that my comments here haven't made people think that I'm a horrible person, or have dishonest intentions, I'm just a bumbling photographer that trips over herself on the road to professionalism.

Thank you for those who have supported my reasons, it was really sweet of you! And thank you for those that haven't, all feed-back is important. I think I've decided to be thankful for my dream of shooting a wedding in India once and then fly back if someone else requests me in the future. Who knows, maybe a wedding guest will ask me back? :-)


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Mar 09, 2016 08:21 |  #27

laughingwillowphotogra​phy wrote in post #17928653 (external link)
Hi Supfresh, thank you for your kind and understanding response! (By the way, I'm a girl, for future reference lol but no harm done) I

Terribly sorry about that! My fault.. I just generally assume everybody is an old far on these forums :)

But I really feel like any photo forums is full of harsh criticism and general response no matter any given subject. It pains me to post on here whenever I need to and I often feel like I should be really diplomatic in what I write.. But usually I end up being lazy and just write what I feel and get tons of response for it.

Glad to hear that you were able to resolve this issue. Post up some sample photos and let us know how your stomach copes with the food.


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Mar 11, 2016 13:27 |  #28

While I don't think what you are contemplating doing is necessarily 'unprofessional' or 'unethical', in the few times I've shot a destination wedding I personally would not have wanted the added distraction or extra work involved in taking on another wedding. Just dealing with the travel, being out of town and out of my element was enough for me to deal with on it's own.

But I can totally see your POV though. This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity so you want to make the most of it. Of course, you can always use the photos you get from this wedding as a way to promote and land future India weddings. Not to mention once the wedding is out of the way you can still take some time for yourself to go out and shoot a bunch of street / travel photos.

Best of luck on whatever you end up deciding, I've always wanted to shoot an Indian wedding but haven't had the chance yet.


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Mar 14, 2016 18:43 as a reply to  @ supfresh's post |  #29

Thank you! The wedding is a year from now, so stayed tuned!


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Mar 14, 2016 18:44 as a reply to  @ dcnats's post |  #30

Thank you, I appreciate everything you've said! I know you'll find your Indian wedding soon, and when you do, I can't wait to see your images!


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How do I get hired as an American to shoot destination weddings in India?
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