Getting Legal – Destination Weddings

Hey everyone!

I am frequently asked how to legally work in other countries for destination weddings. Mexico seems to be one of the most tricky. Back in 2010 I tried to work in Cabo and asked both the Embassy and Consulate (and filled in an FM1 form) and was told multiple times that I was legally allowed to work there for one day and that they wouldn’t issue me an FM1 Visa since I was going to be working for less than six months. However, try to tell that to a customs agent, or one of the federales who might detain you if you try to work a wedding.

Here is a great article about the situation. Remember, even if you are legally allowed to work in a country and you have all the paperwork there is still a lot of corruption. Staff and photographers will lose their commissions/salaries if you take work from them so they have a vested interest in making it very difficult for you to work (even legally).

http://blog.photobiz.com/legal-international-photography.

The best thing to do is ask the Consulate or Embassy about the laws before you enter any country to photograph a destination wedding. I’m not a lawyer and can’t offer any advice on the matter except to contact the proper government agency to ask how to work legally.

I haven’t run into any problems in the past; however, since 2011 I’ve been limiting my destination work to specific locations where I own a corporation to avoid the stress. And I always tell clients that if the resort or staff has any issue with me working then I can’t take the wedding. It’s up to the couple to ask the resort/venue rules and double check that I’m permitted to work. Otherwise, even if I’m legally allowed to work in the country, the staff can make it very difficult and uncomfortable for me. If the resort has an issue then I won’t allow the couple to sign my contract. It’s just not worth the hassle.

Image Sizes for Social Media

I came across this great website that shares all the latest standards for sharing images on social media. This takes all the guess work about dimensions/sizing your pictures for places like Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Linked-In, etc.

Click here to view the latest sizing guidelines

INSURANCE

I am no insurance agent and have no ability to give you the advice about what insurance you should get. However, I did just read an awesome article written by a photographer/former Insurance actuary and it’s great stuff.

Click here to read the article

I wanted to share a link to an article I just read about a videographer who was sued for using popular music.

http://daredreamermag.com/2011/12/07/the-music-licensing-chickens-have-come-home-to-roost-in-wedding-and-event-videography/

BUY SONGS LEGALLY

I recently purchased full access to a great music collection from Ear Candy Digital and they are awesome. I think I paid $99 and I received 100 royalty-free songs. I love that there is a mix of songs for both children & family shoots + weddings. Plus, there’s a variety in terms of song styles. And the majority of songs are happy and about love (not breaking up).

There are a few sites other sites where you can buy music and in the past I used Triple Scoop Music www.triplescoopmusic.com. Songs are $60 and it will save you getting sued. Yes, $60 can be expensive if you buy lots of songs; however, $150,000 is even more expensive (especially if you don’t have insurance that will cover you in the case of a law suit). In the beginning, I used the same $60 song over and over again on my slideshows until I could afford to buy a larger collection.

Unfortunately, many of the songs on sites like this are morbid/sad and have more to do with breaking up than with being in love. However, after digging through the thousands of songs over the last three years, I’ve found the following work really well (in order of favorites):

Faith by Kristin Andreassen

Oxygen by Stephanie Schneiderman

Heart Beats by Melinda Ortner

I Won’t Bite by Chad Hannah

I’ve tried about five or six other songs but they didn’t seem to resonate with couples so I’ll keep the list to the proven songs above.

WHY LEGAL SONGS CAN BE A BONUS

And the best thing is that about half of the couples/families will ask, “What was that great song?” They tell me they think it was special because they hadn’t heard it over-played on the radio, and no other couple *they know* have used the same song. Think of how many couples out there have Etta James, “At Last” as their song. I love that song (one of my favorites), but there’s something to be said about giving your couples a slideshow with a song that is not popular.

MY SNEAK PEEK SLIDESHOW

I always share the sneak peek/first look of any wedding in a slideshow. I use Showit Web slideshow (retail $200), which is flash-based. I post about 80 photos from each wedding set to one song (any more and it is too long – people simply won’t share something that’s more than four or five minutes). The key is that you communicate the wedding better if it’s set to music. People have a more emotional attachment to their photos. Many people have told me they didn’t cry during their weddings, but they cried during the slideshow.

Here is an example of a sneak peek slideshow:
http://www.funkytownphotography.com/victoriaeric/

You don’t have to spend $200 on Showit software. Most programs (ie Roxio, ProShow, etc.,) will give you the option to export your slideshow to a format that can be uploaded on Youtube or Vimeo. You can create a video channel for your slideshows, and this can also help to promote your work since Youtube and Vimeo are both Google/SEO friendly. It’s up to you and what will work for your business.

I do my slideshow as a sneak peek within a week or two of the wedding. I spend the time to *only* edit the images going into the slideshow first, and then I’ll spend the rest of the time making the package for the couple (which can take a month or more). This means the couple has something to look at (and share) while you’re working on the rest of the photos. Plus, there’s a lot of build-up and anticipation and people will come *back* to your site *after* you’ve posted the online gallery. I wait until the package is over to make my online gallery (which is on smugmug – example: http://photos.christinacraft.com/mariastephen/.

Notice how there is branding and links on the top of both my slideshow and my online galleries? Ensure guests can find out more about you if they like your work.

What do couples EXPECT to pay?

This is an interesting article someone shared with me. Instead of researching what couples actually pay, or the average prices for photographers, this study researched what couples expect to pay.

http://www.jdphotoimaging.com/blog/2011/09/06/what-do-brides-expect-to-pay-for-a-wedding-photographer/

A local wedding photographer is being sued by the state after allegedly failing to provide photographs that were paid for by newlyweds.

More: http://www.cnycentral.com/news/story.aspx?id=426605

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—A professional photographer who refused to take pictures of a gay couple’s commitment ceremony because of her religious beliefs violated New Mexico discrimination law, a human rights panel ruled.

More: http://www.topix.com/forum/city/caruthersville-mo/TTVOJIS3K2G5VQN1F

Judge dismisses lawsuit against wedding photographer

A Manhattan judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Christian Oth Studio over photos on a password-protected Web site that showed a bride in her underwear.

http://pdnpulse.com/2010/10/judge-dismisses-underwear-photos-lawsuit-against-wedding-photographer.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6263595/Couple-sue-wedding-photographer.html

Bride shares her research strategy for finding a wedding photographer.

More: http://blogs.phillymag.com/bridal_bulletin/2011/08/03/bride-to-be-blogger-kathleen-wedding-photography/