Toyama Prefecture, Japan
Heading to an unexplored or far-flung destination for your pre-wedding shoot, and discovering its charms is definitely a thrilling experience, and especially so with your significant other. Plus, you'll get stunning wedding photos with the dreamiest backdrops.
But there are some things to know and prep for before packing your bags.
John Lin, who started John15 Photography in 2009, shares with Her World Brides his favourite destinations right now, and his top tips for couples to get their best experience ever.
What are your favourite destinations for wedding portraits right now and why?
Japan is a special place for us, and we affectionately call her our second home. #japancallingj15 (a hashtag we use to document our photos taken in Japan), as many of our followers know it, is now in its eighth year.
Takayama, Gifu, Japan.
When it comes to destination shoots, we offer a unique blend of language proficiency, geographical and cultural knowledge, driving prowess and of course, a discerning eye!
Over the years, we have uncovered treasures on our road trips throughout the country, which is juxtaposed with cosmopolitan cities and moments in prehistory; the scenes still ignite our imagination till this day. Indeed, there's still much more to be uncovered.
Traditional buildings in Nagano, Japan.
The 'pink city of ' Jaipur, Rajasthan.
A new destination for us is India. We have had the privilege to do three shoots there this year alone. India has her own heartbeat, and we are starting to understand and appreciate what she has to offer.
It is truly an incredible country, and we look forward to producing works of even greater depth there in the future.
What are your tips for couples venturing into remote destinations, and what should they expect and prep?
Understanding how to layer for cold climates helps protect against the cold and ensure a more efficacious shoot. From our experience, brides tend to be more susceptible to the chill. In this age of global warming and freak cold snaps, it's a pity to be underdressed for the weather and to be caught in the cold.
If there's hiking involved to the destinations, it's also a good idea to bring waterproof footwear or use a waterproof spray for shoes.
Isle of Skye, Scotland.
How long in advance should couples start preparing for the trip?
The shortest window should be four months in advance.
The three biggest overheads are flight tickets, accommodation, well as transport rental costs on the days of the shoot. (Also read: Planning your wedding shoot budget? What couples should know)
Japan is no stranger to natural disasters and one summer, we found ourselves escaping an impending flood with our wedding couple. Plans drawn up months in advance were thrown out the window. On the first night of the trip, the route to our original hotel was shut down. The best we could do was to drive in parallel to the planned route.
We only stopped to have dinner at 1am, and plans had changed to the point whereby we had to put up at a love hotel.
Some photo spots that we'd planned for were devastated by the time we finally reached. The magic of the trip was how we hunkered down with our couple, put our heads together, and solved the problems we faced.
Someone was on the phone with the Japanese hoteliers, another person was planning our contingency meals, and a third person was studying alternative roads. Ultimately, the shoot was successful; a culmination of trust from our couple, and our ample experience of shooting overseas. It's not a cliche when we say we become friends for life with our clients.
I guess you can also say this was our most memorable shoot.
How do you work with couples when planning the itinerary for the shoot and what should be taken into consideration?
It starts with a chat with each couple, on why they chose said destination for their pre-wedding portraits. We usually begin with their love story as a focal point, then weave in aspects of their interests. Sometimes a destination shoot is not entirely about the location, but about the mood it conveys.
Other than discussing the styling of the shoot, practical aspects include ensuring it's legal for us to shoot at the destination, and also getting up-to-date immunisations for travel to certain areas.
Medicine for specific geographical locations. For example, motion sickness pills for cruises, or charcoal pills for weak tummies as well as medication for altitude sickness.
Vacuum bags are optimal for packing. We actually work through the couples' styling and ensure that the outfits are logical and apt for the season. Usually, we'll also bring along extra winter wear to lend our couples so they'll be warm and comfortable.
Are there any common misconceptions about destination wedding photo shoots?
Most of our couples are used to Singapore's accessibility, and tend to underestimate the amount of time it takes to traverse the vast lands between location spots overseas. (The amount of time and effort for) an overseas shoot will probably be equivalent to two or more shoots in Singapore. "
Another misconception is that a wedding gown is essential for destination portraits. Undoubtedly, the bridal gown and a suit are definitive elements of a wedding photo shoot, but increasingly, we've been travelling with brides who are happy to traipse around in casual white dresses.
For more information, visit https://john15photography.com or check out his Instagram page @john15photography