How to Find the Perfect Destination Wedding Photographer in Italy

Wedding Tips

Who is a Destination Wedding Photographer?

I would like to start this journey as if we were taking a walk in the open countryside, you and I, who are probably about to get married, and like a pair of old friends, we share stories, viewpoints, suggestions, and advice from someone who knows the world of weddings very well and has for many years.

The wedding photographer is that professional who considers their work to be the most precious treasure of your wedding. The photos from your wedding will be everything you want to share immediately with your friends and family as soon as you receive them. They will be a visual document rich with precious moments, emotions, the tossing of confetti, the first kiss, the first dance, portraits of you that speak of you and tell the story of who you are today to those you will meet in the future… children? Grandchildren? Friends…

Finding a professional who understands your vision and, at the same time, adds their own identity is important in order to have a document that represents you, is unique, original, and maintains its value over time.

Book your venue first...or not?

It is definitely important to confirm the wedding service with the photographer you have chosen once you have finalized all the contractual aspects with the venue and, most importantly, have the confirmed date of your big day. This may seem obvious, but in reality, over the years, more and more couples who started preparing for their wedding well in advance have asked me to help them choose the most suitable venue for them. And as absurd as it may seem, especially for those new to the destination wedding market, no one knows the locations from an aesthetic, practical, and documentary perspective better than a local photographer (we’ll discuss this later).

In fact, in my experience as a wedding photographer in Italy, I often and repeatedly work at the best locations and venues, with which I often establish collaborative relationships. In understanding and envisioning a couple’s idea, the photographer can be an important resource in proposing alternative and very interesting solutions to the list of options that, as a couple, you are surely evaluating either on your own or with your wedding planner. (But this is a secret, don’t spread the word…)

Lazy Olive British Inspired Countryside Wedding. Photography by Federico Pannacci

Discover the Wedding style that best represents you

I intentionally used the term “represent” because, beyond liking it, my suggestion is to immerse yourself in the style of the photos and the event you are planning. The photography service should be tailor-made, something that speaks about you and who you are.

I have always been an editorial photographer, collaborating with major fashion brands, but in recent years, I have noticed that the significant work done by Harper’s Bazaar Wedding, Vogue, and recently The Lane, while providing important creative inspiration, is shaping a repetitive and uniform photography style in a field that should be about more than just the luxury market. It should also speak to the great emotions and the conscious choice that two souls have decided to celebrate in front of their dearest ones.

Let yourselves be inspired, be curious, but also be yourselves, because the original version of you will always be the most beautiful thing to photograph. Always choose someone who is genuinely interested in you, not just in your jewels, no matter how shiny they may be.

Destination Wedding in Italy

I have written several guides, including one on how to organize your elopement, which you can find at this link, and a list of the best venues in Tuscany for your wedding, which you can find here.

Beyond this, Italy is a country rich in history and culture, with many regions offering a variety of inspirations. Elegant villas on the lakes, the Tuscan hills immersed among vineyards and breathtaking landscapes, art cities like Florence, Venice, Rome, Verona, as well as Puglia, Sicily, Calabria, and the Amalfi Coast. Each region, each city, each place has its own microclimate, its own aesthetic characteristics, and its own culture that well defines its features. This choice is also very interesting because the region you choose will tell something about you, making the experience of your wedding even more magical and conveying extra emotions to your guests.


Destination Wedding Photographer Bucket List

In recent years, there has been a trend where some photographers who do destination weddings offer their services for free in exchange for travel expenses, allowing them to visit new places and expand their portfolios with different locations. This might seem like a great deal! Or, it could be a hasty decision, which is why I want to share some of my experience and reflections with you, solely in the interest of ensuring the success of your wedding.

Everything about a wedding can be forgotten. Do you remember what you ate last year at your friend’s wedding? Most likely, the memories of the menu and many other things have faded along with the time it took to digest them. But your wedding photography, what your photographer creates for you, that will last forever. It cannot be changed or modified!

That’s why entrusting your memories to someone who travels the world without a solid and organized network of professional contacts can expose you to several risks:

  • Illness and Injury: What happens if your photographer falls ill or gets injured upon reaching your wedding destination? Will they have a reliable network of professionals, people capable of replacing them and preserving the integrity of your memories?
  • Local Knowledge: Will they know the area, the customs, and practices to ensure the photoshoot is not only timely but also effective? Will they understand the light, how the weather behaves, and be able to advise you in your best interest?
  • Successful Portfolio: A photographer willing to offer a free service to enhance their portfolio might not prioritize your love story. Their commitment is likely focused on obtaining the photos they need for their portfolio rather than making your day smooth, cooperating with all vendors, and documenting your event according to your needs. This doesn’t mean a local photographer won’t take beautiful photos, but to cite concrete examples, a local photographer, knowing the light and locations and having likely photographed weddings everywhere, won’t need to take you to that famous spot for portfolio shots. Instead, a professional photographer can maximize the photoshoot experience by knowing even the less famous places, optimizing time, and reducing stress for you.
  • Theft or Loss: It has happened that during flights and travels, luggage or bags have been lost, misplaced, or stolen. I’ve seen real SOS posts on various wedding photographer Facebook groups from photographers who arrived at their destination without their equipment… I’ll let you imagine the consequences.
  • Working Visas: Although many ignore it, to work in Italy, a work visa is required since, even if the service is free, it’s still a professional performance. While rarely causing major issues, there have been instances where photographers were stopped at customs and had to justify the reason for all their photographic equipment. There haven’t been exemplary punishments as far as I know, but you should be aware that it’s not legal.

Personally, I’ve never had a bucket list, even though I’ve worked abroad, including in the Philippines. Given what I’ve said, when I travel for work, which only happens in the off-season, my fee is slightly higher because I not only choose to bring my experience to my couples but also, outside of Italy, I always select a local second photographer who is willing, for a fee, to assist me or provide backup equipment if needed.

With this note, I’m not trying to sell my services but to make you reflect on how a conscientious professional works and how a serious professional should safeguard your memories.

Calimala Hotel Florence Wedding

How much does a Destination Wedding Photographer cost in Italy?

As with everything, prices depend on many factors. I’ve learned in life that there is no absolute value for anything, and in my experience as a photographer with over 15 years of weddings under my belt, I’ve learned that a photographer’s skill or creativity is not directly proportional to their price. However, the style and target market of each professional do define the economic parameters. We can think in terms of several price ranges:

  • Semi-Pro: This is a semi-professional figure. Weddings are probably not their primary source of income, even though this is rarely admitted. Their experience might be fairly limited, but the service can still be considered acceptable. €1600-€2500
  • Professional: This is a fully professional photographer, organized and prepared. Their main business is weddings, and they will be able to tell your event’s story with personal nuances and a strong personality. The expected result will not disappoint. €3000-€5000
  • Luxury: These photographers are used to working in the luxury world, often at demanding events with many guests. Their workflow is certainly adequate to handle even the most challenging requests in hectic and lengthy events. €6000-€9000


Which questions should you ask your wedding photographer?

If you’ve read this far, I’ll reward you by trying not to go on too long. Here are the fundamental aspects I believe should be discussed with your photographer from the very first email exchanges. At this link, you will find an overview of my general offerings and a dedicated FAQ section that may provide you with some interesting insights.

Wedding in Val d'Orcia, Wedding Photography by Federico Pannacci

Wedding in Val d’Orcia, Wedding Photography by Federico Pannacci