10 things I hate about the elopement photography business.

I know, hate is a strong word. But I really, really, really don’t like these parts of the elopement photography business. I was told once, “Kelsey, like you work hard, but like elopements are easier than traditional weddings.” Like, what?

I froze! In the moment I didn’t say a damn thing. This was from a photography colleague, someone I knew and whose opinion I valued. I let it sit with me for a few days, I felt it in my chest, and then I decided I needed to do something about it. Once I realized this narrative was coming even from INSIDE our industry, I knew I had to share my story. So let’s break down these illusions. 

1. The elopement photography business is EASIER than Weddings

This misconception seems to stem from the fact that there are less people at an elopement. Weddings can easily have a hundred people that you are taking photos of instead of a handful. This is true, there are LESS people at an elopement! We are also at a smaller location than a big venue! Totally right. At this larger venue… there probably is a planner. If not, a key point person. There is a plan for how the whole day goes, a backup plan for rain. It’s a well orchestrated event, food has been carefully selected months in advance. Everyone knows where to sit, when to stand. It’s a beautiful event and hard work for our traditional photographers! I was once one, I know it is tremendous work. 

elopement photography business and traditional wedding photography
elopement photography business and traditional wedding photography
elopement photography business and traditional wedding photography
elopement photography business


Here’s why it is not easier to be an elopement photographer. Take away the planner. The preselected food. The venue with a back up plan, sitting on a location that has hosted hundreds of other weddings. Pluck out the couple and maybe a few wedding party folks, now put them in a forest. Now as the elopement photographer, it is your job to find the perfect, semi secluded spot for them to exchange their vows. WAIT! What are they going to eat?? Oh shoot the bride forgot the champagne. OOOPS THE ROADS AREN’T PLOWED! Can’t even get to your elopement spot.

True story with the roads, this was an occasion where we used our Honeybee flexibility and expertise to make a last minute change to the elopement plans. The Montana ceremony spot wasn’t plowed, always a concern with our epic National Park elopements, and it would have taken about a quarter mile and three feet of snow to reach it. Not quite the vision. So we rerouted this Glacier National Park Winter Elopement and went to Belton Stage Park in West Glacier! 

Elopement Photography Business - how to always be prepared.
Elopement Photography Business - how to always be prepared.
Elopement Photography Business - how to always be prepared.
Elopement Photography Business - how to always be prepared.

I digress, but you get the point. Being an elopement photographer requires a LOT of flexibility and preplanning- some of which is completely scratched day of! So, while an elopement photographer has different challenges than traditional wedding photographers, by no means is it easier. 

2. Instagram is Overcrowding our favorite spots

Elopement Photography Business - the most Instagram worthy locations
Elopement Photography Business - the most Instagram worthy locations
Elopement Photography Business - the most Instagram worthy locations
Elopement Photography Business - the most Instagram worthy locations

Let’s be honest, we love the ‘gram. Maybe that’s how you even came across this blog! We love sharing our photos, tagging our amazing vendors, building a fricken community! What we don’t like about Instagram? The overpopulation of our favorite, most beautiful spots and turning them into tourist traps. We’re not talking about this happening over the last ten years. Literally LAST YEAR, the growing visitors to our home of Glacier National Park started requiring one reservation per vehicle per valley will be required to access Two Medicine and Many Glacier valleys on the east side of the park from July 1 through September 10.

This goes back to our point about elopement photographers being expert planners. We are the ones who are going to inform our couples that they need a reservation. We have also been known to pull strings when we need to get those reservations secured. For elopements, we like traveling off peak for a few reasons. It is often cheaper to go off season, it is less crowded, and it helps with over-tourism.

3. Click, Post, Ghost

Elopement Photography Business - styled shoot
Elopement Photography Business - styled shoot
Elopement Photography Business - styled shoot
Elopement Photography Business - styled shoot
Elopement Photography Business - styled shoot

A little soap boxy here, but please do NOT be the photographer that just clicks the Instagram photo and peaces out. There is so much magic to discover! Choosing the Instagram spot and then leaving? It crushes my SOUL as an artist. If you are set on not exploring, than at least use every inch of the area! Put on a styled shoot, participate in a photography workshop, collaborate with other vendors!

4. elopement photography business – you NEED to be educated on LNT principles

Dog friendly elopement

Leave No Trace is not a new concept to our outdoor hiking community. There are 7 principles, some may not apply to traveling, but it is important to at least be aware of them all and apply them when you can!

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors

You can learn more here. As long as you remember to be a good fucking person, you are set! Also, we are here and we are experts. We will help you.

5. The “3 hour elopements” Myth

Elopement Photography Business

UGH. need. i. say. more. Wedding days deserve full coverage, even 2 days!  While we fill day with love and ceremony, day two is all about being you! There is only so much time on the wedding day, so getting those photos in the epic place you wanted might not be able to happen. Insert the day after session. You traveled to an amazing location but there’s still so much left to explore. These are the meaningful moments that will kick off your marriage and we want to work with you to make a space to make the memories you’ll look back on throughout your lives together. 

Check out what our Full Day Elopement Looks Like and Sample Elopement Timelines.

6. Elopements are CHEAPER

Elopement Photography Business with style

This is a very common one we hear! Cheaper insinuates the coverage is somehow less meaningful than traditional wedding couples and implies we serve the couple less. ALL photography – elopement, traditional wedding, family portraits, maternity, the cost to you is what the value is. You don’t hear someone saying that maternity photos are EASIER than family photos. Maternity is usually less people, that means easier right?? Nope. Because a growing momma needs different things than a family!

Let’s all agree that all photography is valuable and has unique challenges in its own way. Mmmkay. As Shoot Dot Edit shares, “As an elopement photographer, most of your focus will be on your couple, but your elopement photography pricing plans and packages are directly proportional to the kind of experience you are willing to give to your client.” So if you were wondering why elopement photographers are so expensive, I hope we’ve cleared that up. 

7. Ecological Cost

If you are a traveling photographer, like myself, you have a responsibility to off set the ecological costs. For us, every package we book contributes to climate change non-profit organizations. Another way to do this is to book tours that are local. Your tour will benefit the local communities (food provided by local restaurants, local guides, volunteer opportunities, and no invasive animal experiences, minimizing plastic/waste) and provide an authentic experience.

8. Not Embracing The Culture for your elopement photography business

Traveling is the ultimate gift. To be able to see the world, feel the cultures, embrace the diversity, and immerse yourself! Travel is good for the soul, as well as good for the world, but only if you truly engage. Skip the chain restaurants and hotels that you can find anywhere. Seek out the local watering hole, what do the locals eat, drink, discuss? Far more interesting than KFC if you ask us. 

My definition of conscious tourism: It’s not about the gram, the clout, or the crossing off of boxes. It’s about social and economic justice. It’s about extending ourselves to learn more about others and opening our hearts and minds. Your travel experiences should be fulfilling, but also mindful of the environment and local cultures. It makes us become more culturally and economically aware. When we learn more about other cultures, we learn more about ourselves and our place in the world, how we can give back, and how we can be kinder to our fellow human beings!

9. Posers

Elopement Photography Business - posing

No couples are the same, so why should the photos look the same? We are all about creating a mood board and getting a VIBE, but the same pose over and over, BORING! We love CONNECTING with our couples and letting their personalities SHINE through photos! If they are being posed in ways that aren’t authentic to them, the photos are not going to do the couple justice.

10. It’s not all G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S in a elopement photography business

Elopements have this reputation of being “more fun” or more glamorous. TBH we think they are a TON of fun, but it’s more than that. We believe in heart, that we are made to be elopement photographers, that is what drives us. If you are attracted to elopements for your portfolio or Instagram feed, it’s probably not worth it. Don’t worry about “how do I market myself as an elopement photographer?”, until you really know that you are one.

Eloping couples need more work and more help. They need seclusion, they need unique experiences. As far as the traveling itself, it is exhausting and can take a toll on you. Truly no two elements are the same. Things get chaotic! Frequently, you are thinking on the fly- ever have a horse take a nibble out of the wedding dress? We recommend that you really love the story as to why a couple is eloping and have a passion for capturing it in all of its chaotic beauty.

Now if you read all this and you thought to yourself, DAMN! How do I start an elopement photography business IN SPITE of this list. Then hats off to you. Check out our How to Become an Elopement Photographer – 25 Must Have Steps! And then give me a call if you want more coaching. There’s enough room in our industry for everyone to be passionate about it!

10 things I hate about the elopement photography business.
10 things I hate about the elopement photography business.

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