We sat down with Vincent Van den Berg, the lead photographer with Pixan Photography, who gave us his pro tips from a destination wedding photographer point of view.
In 2017, he was voted one of the best 10 photographers in the world and #1 destination wedding photographer in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
With over 20 years experience and 500+ destination weddings under his belt, here are thoughts on:
- 3 key factors for successful destination wedding photos
- how to choose a destination wedding photographer
- the average cost for a destination wedding photographer
- hotel wedding photographer versus a fulltime wedding photographer
- how to handle outside vendor fees
- how to plan the wedding day timeline to get the best wedding pictures
- best hotels for destination wedding photos
- engagement photoshoot promotion
- more about Vincent Van den Berg
3 keys for successful wedding photos
What is the most important thing to you when working with your couples?
1: It’s key that couples choose the right Hotel/Resort and Venue for their Destination Wedding and all their guests. (Need a little help? let us know!)
2: It’s important that the ceremony, cocktail, and reception is programmed for the right time of the day. It’s hot here and generally 2 hours before sunset is the right time for the ceremony.
3: For me to establish a great connection with my clients which I normally achieved via a pre-wedding conference at which time I get to know them a little, get an idea of their style and taste before working with them to create a photography/video service timeline that fits perfectly with their wedding day plan.
How to choose a destination wedding photographer
What would you advise couples to consider when hiring a wedding photographer?
Look at the past work on photographers’ websites, Instagram, or Facebook. Make a list of those photographers whose work you like best. Check out their reviews and reach out for more info. If their price fits or is close to your budget then ask to speak with them, video chat, or in person.
During your consultation, if you strike up a good connection with your photographer so that you are able to work together to come up with an organized timeline and day plan then that’s a great start!!! By the end of the conversation you should be left feeling confident that you are in good hands, happy, motivated, organized and excited !!!
Then all that is left to is accept that the quote fits your budget and carefully read the contract terms before you fully commit.
Average cost for a destination wedding photographer
What is the average cost for destination wedding photos?
Photographers experience, quality, equipment, service, work, process and final product varies greatly.
Top experienced photographers with a great portfolio and tons of reviews will likely make a personal connection with you, deliver personalized service, and capture potentially award-winning unique wedding images that you and your family will treasure for a lifetime or more. Expect to spend upwards of 2000 USD for 6 hours of coverage or more.
Hotel wedding photographer versus a fulltime wedding photographer
Is an outsourced photographer better than the hotel vendor?
Part-Time weekend wedding photographers and young photographers who work for inhouse resort photography concessions are generally people who enjoy photography a great deal and own a half-decent camera or better. The time that they spend on the overall service, their equipment, and experience level is normally inferior compared with a true full-time wedding photographer. They are unlikely to strike up a personal relationship with you or deliver unique wedding photos. These guys will likely charge you 50% less.
Extra factors to consider
What other factors should couples consider when choosing a wedding photographer?
Warning! You may be considering traveling with a photographer that you already have a relationship with from your area. This is possible however if you are paying that person he/she must obtain a Mexican working visa, if not they will be working illegally.
Furthermore, I have noticed that there are some Mexican/foreign photographers who have set up brands with websites and social media promoting themselves as wedding photography businesses without possession of a Mexican working permit or being registered with the authorities as self-employed or a business. This strategy saves money and provides them with the power to undercut businesses such as ours. To protect yourself ask to see a residency permit and a receipt.
Outside Vendor Fees
Any tricks to get around outside vendor fees?
More workarounds then tricks, to find out more please contact me for more info firstname.lastname@example.org
How to plan the wedding day timeline for the best wedding pictures
How do you suggest planning the ‘getting ready’ portion of the day?
- Schedule your in-room hair and makeup appointments so that they finish at the time your photographer arrives to capture getting ready.
- Order room service so that you and your guests are enjoying a relaxed, comfortable, and fun atmosphere in your room.
- Schedule in about 1 hour for getting ready with the photographer present.
How do you plan out all the other events to ensure that the couple gets the pictures they want, but that they also have the time with their friends and family that they want too?
- 1 hour for getting ready photos after the hair and makeup artist leaves
- 1 hour for a 1st look. If you don’t mind seeing your partner before you walk down the Aisle there are clear benefits to be had.
- Creates another romantic moment for the 2 of you to enjoy being fully present with each other rather than see each other for the 1st time in front of all your guests.
- Creates the opportunity to capture some romantic images of the couple around the resort within beautiful settings that might be far away from your ceremony, cocktail party and reception.
- Means that after the ceremony there will not be a great need to leave your wedding guests during the cocktail to capture romantic images, allowing you more time to stay connected and enjoy the moment.
- Allows us to capture images of you in a greater variety of scenes.
Best hotels for destination wedding photos
Do you have a favorite hotel(s) and why?
I can’t say that I have an overall favorite hotel because they are all so different. However, I am happiest at work when I’m in flow, connecting, and capturing moments of genuine authentic love amidst the beauty of creation. To create this environment the couple and all their guests have to be in the right hotel, resort, or venue for them.
That is why in the planning stage it is important that everyone is considered.
Personally I love boutique hotels in Tulum because they are so unique and genuine, but if you have elderly guests who need assistance getting about it might not be the best option because of the uneven dimly lit sandy walkways.
Here are some of my images and a brief description of a few favorite destination wedding options in the area.
Hotel Xcaret Mexico
Probably my favorite corporate hotel because of its unique design that fuses Mexican art, texture, and nature together to excite and stimulate all the senses.
Yet I hear that they are not the easiest resort to work with in terms of wedding planning, booking, and reservations. This company added me to their preferred supplier list without asking me, then 6 weeks later removed me from the list without any valid explanation.
With that said, I adore photographing weddings here. The place is simply stunning, next-level stuff, and the food super yummy.
The Fives Playa Del Carmen
Great resort in Playa del Carmen with an experienced romance team who are very good at operating destination weddings. All the rooms are super large, like vacation condos great for getting ready. The food is super yummy, there are loads of spots to capture great photos and the wedding venues are super. Highly recommended and good value.
Mahayana Tulum Beach Homes
Beach life perfection in the middle of trendy Tulum. If you are planning an intimate private wedding and value connection with nature, art, and authenticity over tons of amenities and the formalities offered by the large international corporate resorts, then Mahayana Tulum Beach Homes could be the right option for you.
Zorba Beach Homes Tulum
Mahayana Tulum’s big brother, Zorba, comprises 6 fully appointed stunning beach homes in the heart of trendy Tulum. If big busy corporate hotels are not your thing and you are looking for privacy, connection with nature and authenticity this could well be the place.
Live Aqua Cancun
In the heart of Cancun, this Adult-only resort offers an amazing spa, great service, and food. Great value! Highly recommended
Hyatt Ziva Cancun
Hyatt Ziva Cancun is a large corporate hotel with nice rooms, great food. The main draw of this resort is its geographic location which is, without doubt, the best in Cancun making it a stunning destination wedding venue.
Engagement Photoshoot Promo
Planning a site inspection visit to Cancun, the Riviera Maya or Playa del Carmen? Take advantage of the engagement photoshoot promo!
Book an engagement ‘save the date’ photoshoot with Vincent, and not only do you get to meet in person to establish a connection, but he will deduct the cost of the shoot from whatever wedding or video package you book with him for your destination wedding in Mexico.
Plus, you get stunning images like the ones here.
More about Vincent
Originally from the Netherlands, he traveled the world for 10 years before choosing to settle in Playa del Carmen. He has lived in the area for over 10 years now with his wife and family.
Human connection is a priority for Vincent, as photographing your wedding is a personal relationship and he will be privy to one of the most important days of your life.
A first video consultation is always of utmost importance, to establish that connection and see if the relationship feels right.
We hope that these pro tips from a destination wedding photographer will help you get the absolute best wedding photos and have helped you with your destination wedding planning.