Sooo this will be a bit of a touchy subject in some ways, but it’s something that has been on my heart for some time. It seems there is a huge trend in the wedding and elopement photography industry that suggests you must travel for work to be glamorous and successful. That the more exotic a location you shoot in, the more worth you have. I don’t think anyone realizes that’s what’s being communicated, it’s a subtle beast but it exists nonetheless. I definitely fell prey to this for a time, thinking that if I only worked in my local market I somehow wasn’t as desired as a photographer who was literally flown half way around the world to capture something. And you can see how that pervasive thought sets in. It must really make a photographer feel cherished and wanted to be brought somewhere far away by the couple who has hired them. However, I don’t think it necessarily means what I believed it to for the longest time. I think that these couples and photographers have just connected on a deeper level once they found one another. I don’t think couples set out to find someone at the furthest place from their elopement location, it just kind of happens to be without intention. If you predominately work in your local market, it does not make you somehow less desirable. If anything, it’s actually much better for your local economy and something to be proud of! Today, I’ll be talking about Hawaii as that is where I call home, but this definitely can apply to most anywhere. So here are the top five reasons to hire a local Hawaii elopement photographer:
Support Local – Hire a local Hawaii Elopement Photographer
#1 You’re directly supporting the islands.
Probably the most important of all of these reasons, you are directly contributing to and supporting the Hawaiian Islands when you hire a local Hawaii elopement photographer. Hawaii has a very unique economy and it has been severely devastated as of late since it is so reliant on tourism. When you work with someone who lives here, who contributes to the islands and pays regular taxes here, it helps to infuse the local economy which means more improvements to the islands. I think it’s really important when we visit a place to do this. When I travel to various other states and countries, I am always looking to shop local. I aim to buy souvenirs from small shops that aren’t importing their goods and hire local companies whenever possible. This stems from the belief that when we visit a place, we are taking from that place. We are contributing to some wear on the roads, the paths at local parks, and so on. By hiring local, we can reverse the effects of our tourism by helping the local economy. That is definitely a good thing to do.
The unique problem here in Hawaii is that cost of living is absolutely through the roof. Starter homes cost at least $700k, groceries are almost double what they are on the mainland, and pretty much everything has an added cost. When you hire someone from another state with a lower cost of living, it may cost you less because this person only has to travel here for a week or two vs. someone who has to carve out a living here. Understand why a local may charge what they do, they’re simply trying to get by in one of the most costly places to live. However, paying that lower price to bring someone in is unintentionally detrimental to the local economy. Local photographers are forced to lower their prices to compete in some cases, and then they can’t afford to live. It’s a really terrible cycle that I don’t think anyone means to participate in, but something I think we need to be more aware of for sure.
#2 You’re getting insider knowledge.
If there is one thing that will really be great about hiring a local Hawaii elopement photographer, it’s that you will get the real scoop. Though people who have spent a lot of time traveling here can definitely have some knowledge of the islands, there isn’t any perspective that compares to actually living here and doing business here. We know the ins and outs very well, so we can properly help guide couples on exactly what they’ll need to elope here. We have far more time to scout locations and experience them in different light, weather, and conditions. We have intimate knowledge of how the weather patterns work here, what it’s like to be here day in and day out. We know how to help you have a really authentic experience instead of just coming here as a tourist. It’s a really beautiful thing.
#3 With that knowledge, you also get the stories.
There’s a saying here on the islands, Talk Story. It means to shoot the breeze, to chat. But with that I think comes the ability to pass on some of the history and intricate stories about the islands, about the place you might choose to elope. Local Hawaii elopement photographers spend time listening to these stories on a daily basis, so we can not only guide your elopement but we can help share stories about certain locations to really give them meaning. Something I love when I travel is to learn from locals about the history and meanings of places. When you hire a local photographer, you’ll no doubt get a lot of the stories. I think it’s really beautiful to tie in the history and meaningfulness of a place rather than just appreciate it for it’s visible beauty.
#4 You’ll get the very best recommendations.
As a local Hawaii elopement photographer, I’ve spent so much time working with other local vendors. I have worked with many different vendors and can refer those who I have worked with multiple times rather than what occurs when I’m referring in locations I’m not based in: referring someone I have worked with maybe a handful of times, not having as varied of an experience with many vendors just due to the fact that I don’t live there or work there frequently the way a local does. As a result of having that thorough experience working with local vendors, I believe that the quality of the recommendations is a cut above. Beyond referrals for other vendors, you’ll definitely get the best recommendations for fun things to do. Rather than send you on a hunt for the top ten tourist activities in Hawaii, you’ll get recommendations for what locals like to do. Things that will take you beyond the experience of just visiting and give you a more authentic way to immerse yourself in the island life.
#5 You will get the experience of a lifetime.
Most importantly, combining everything I have listed above, you will get the absolute best experience from a local Hawaii elopement photographer. This isn’t to say that outside photographers are not talented or can’t give you an incredible experience, because they can for sure. It is to say that because you are hiring a local, you’re going to get the most authentic, meaningful, and incredible experience because of the time locals spend getting to know the islands. I’ve heard it said that hiring a local might mean you’ll just get the same location they shoot all the time in an unimaginative way, but that is definitely not true. Shooting at some of the same locations pretty frequently means that locals know the weather, light settings, and intricate details of that spot like the back of their hand. And if they are anything like me, they’ll challenge themselves to see it differently and shoot it differently every time. I’m not one for repetition and feel stifled by doing the same thing over and over, so I always strive to make each time I shoot in a location something wholly unique. I believe that the passion most locals have for these beautiful islands extends into their work and creates something so beautiful. It is one thing to travel here, even to spend a month here each year. It is another entirely to actually live here and experience Hawaii for all that she is.
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Just some notes for other photographers.
This isn’t meant to call anyone out. I love being able to welcome other photographers here in the islands and I think it’s completely fine to take a couple of elopements here if this is some place you’d really like to work. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally working in a destination market as long as you follow all of the rules in doing so (for here, don’t forget your film permit and make sure to pay your General Excise taxes as they apply to everyone doing business here, even if you don’t live here). But I do think there is some harm in glamorizing working in some places and taking a high amount of work away from a local market. We walk a pretty fine line in being respectful to local economies vs. taking more than we should and that’s something I have really been working to balance. In example: It’s no secret that I love working in Yosemite. It’s somewhere that has always meant the world to me from the time I was a child. However, I think there is a local market of people who live near to the park and are trying to get by, so I aim not to take a lot of work from the local market there.
I think it’s true that there is room for everyone in the industry, and I also see that it’s very easy to undermine a local economy. Make sure that you research averages of what local photographers are charging in an area you are marketing to and price yourself fairly. Do your best not to charge less or give “super good deals” just because it is somewhere you’d like to shoot. As I mentioned, doing so causes the average to go down and then we can’t afford to live here. As long as you keep those things in mind, it’s all good 🙂 I’m always happy to help with any questions about Hawaii or just to grab a cup of coffee so if you are visiting for a shoot, let me know and let’s hang out!!