Finding the Right Adventure Photographer

Hiring an elopement photographer can be quite different than hiring a traditional wedding photographer.

  • You’re more likely to hire someone who lives in a different city, state, or country.
  • You will spend almost the entire day with them in a more intimate setting.
  • You’re putting a lot more trust in their guidance and expertise.

There are two questions we think are important to ask when hiring an elopement photographer:

  1. Do you love their work?
  2. Could you see yourself chatting around a campfire with them?

I worked as a wedding photographer for 5 years before moving entirely to elopements. And there are some important differences in the hiring process and the session experience. With traditional wedding photographers, it’s important that they have the experience, can manage logistics of a wedding day, and that you enjoy their work. But elopements and adventure weddings…you better like them AND their jokes! Because you’ll probably be seeing them bright and early for a hike!

Our contact form generally gives us a great idea as to whether we’re a good fit. Really, it’s mostly about whether you have a love for the outdoors. A love for the outdoors doesn’t mean rock climbing every weekend, or summiting every 14er in Colorado. We all spend our time in the outdoors differently: none more or less important than the other. We’ll be spending a ton of time together on a trail and celebrating your love. So if we can agree that nature is amazing? We’ll probably get along great.

Outdoor Experience

Another thing to keep in mind is a photographer’s experience level in the outdoors and how it reflects your day. It’s important that they have experience interacting with Park Staff, are knowledgeable about park rules and regulations, and that they have the appropriate gear to be prepared. You don’t need to hire Bear Grylls, but you want to look for someone who:

  • Has frequent experience on trails or in the outdoors.
  • Would (and does) spend their free time enjoying the outdoors and hiking.
  • And respects the land, park staff, and their rules and regulations.

What Does a Full Gallery Look Like?

We’re happy to provide full, online gallery previews to clients who request it. Sometimes, photographers provide a lot of in-depth blog posts that already show you how they capture a full day. We try our best to do this so future clients get a sense of what a full day looks like. But even a blog post of 70 photos isn’t the full delivered product. How does the photographer use the landscape? How do they capture detail shots? It’s really exciting to get caught up in an epic sunrise photo at Yosemite. But you also want to make sure that you have photos that document your full elopement experience. You definitely do not have to ask if they have extensive blog posts. You might already have a great idea of what their final product will be.

Trusting Your Photographer

Beyond finding someone who is a great fit, has experience, and captures your full elopement or intimate wedding–you have an important job too! Once you hire them, you need to trust them. Unlike traditional weddings where they might help with the wedding day itinerary and just follow along, adventure photographers play a much larger role in your day. Your photographer has done a lot of hikes with clients for elopements and intimate weddings in the past. They’ll know how to avoid busy crowds, tell you what gear to bring along to be prepared, and help choose a hike that fits your day. Working with an adventure photographer is a more collaborative experience.

Keeping Your Priorities

We will recommend couples to get up early for sunrise, encourage them to keep on hiking to reach the summit and to help them have an epic outdoor experience. Eloping at an epic viewpoint and not missing sunrise requires a little bit more work than just showing up at a venue properly dressed and ready to go. (: We, of course, want to get you those epic, sun dripping photos on the cliff edge, with the alpenglow–but at the end of the day, this is your big day. We want to make sure you are comfortable and having a good time.

What takes priority for us is your wellbeing, your experience, and then…your photos. It can be tough to balance priorities as a photographer. We are your tour guide, your photographer, and occasionally a bit of a life coach. We want you to be fully prepared before hitting the trail.

We do our best to set expectations and boundaries early on. It is very easy to end up on a hike you are not physically prepared for if you don’t communicate. Trust your photographer to create and help you prepare for a beautiful outdoor experience. And in addition, communicate your outdoor comfortability, hiking prowess, and just your general preferences!

Final Thoughts

We hope this article helps you better prepare for hiring your photographer! It can be a tough decision, but so often do people not really know what to ask or what to look for in an adventure photographer. Some articles will tell you to ask about equipment, back up plans, or other logistics. In our experience though, the best question to ask is:

Can I see myself hanging out around a campfire with them?

Most other things will fall into place with an experienced adventure photographer. Other secondary questions though might be:

  • Do they have sufficient experience in the outdoors to document the plans you have for your elopement?
  • Are they experienced in shooting in a variety of weather conditions?
  • Are they aware of National Park/Forest rules and regulations? Permits?
  • What does a full gallery look like? Will they fully document my day?
  • Are they passionate about respecting and experiencing the outdoors?
  • Do I have confidence in their knowledge and am I willing to trust them in this collaborative process?

This article should help you clarify priorities in hiring the right photographer for you. And hopefully, demystify what it means to find a good fit. As always if you have any questions or comments, we’re happy to chat!