Ever been interested in the elopement aspect of wedding photography, but just were not sure where to start? We got the inside scoop from one of our favorite elopement photographers in the biz — Ben Clifford — on how to shoot elopements, the differences between traditional wedding and elopement photography and advice he would give to anyone wanting to begin their elopement photography adventure!
Leaving the traditional wedding space was a very difficult decision. After all, we had built our business for six years in traditional weddings, and our business was growing and doing very well in that space. However, we’ve always been drawn to more nature, adventure and open spaces. And that didn’t fit with most traditional weddings or venues. We know every couple’s wants are different; however, for us, we found ourselves more drawn to the intimacy and freedom that elopements offer to couples.
It is saying no to all of the traditional weddings that want to book us. As a business, it’s hard to say no to what you know will bring you more profit. However, more than that, we have had to learn to say no to couples, explain why we don’t feel we’re a good match and help them understand our change and new direction.
It can vary significantly, to be honest. Some elopements might be all one day in Sedona, taking photos at some of the most beautiful locations on earth. And while we’re doing that when the couple finds “the spot,” then they might exchange vows with only us as witnesses. It’s remarkably freeing. They can express emotions that they generally might not with hundreds of onlookers. There is no expectation of a timeline, so when it’s right, it’s right. Other times it might be multiple days, requiring a hike and camping. But the constant in all of them is the freedom and uncrushed feeling that day has.
Yes, but in a different way. A traditional wedding timeline is much more broken down per event and activity. Almost every 15 minutes are accounted for. With an elopement, it’s much more freeing. It can be as simple as wake up at 3:00 a.m., hike the trail and arrive around 2:00 p.m. Sunset is at 6:00 p.m…It’s very freeing.
Oh, this is our jam…You hit it. It’s a balance. It’s about the couple, and so your focus is always on them. However, you put a lot of emphasis on the environment also. It’s a combination of pulled back photos and up-close photos. Fun and laughing and raw emotion. It’s almost like a yin and yang type thing that just fit so perfectly together. A word of caution, though: your couple can get swallowed up or hidden by a dynamic landscape. So you always have to look at ways to keep your couple as the main focal point of the image and use the scene to enhance and surround the couple. I think of the 80/20 rule in these moments. 80% will have the couple be the main focus, using the landscape as a supporting role to the couple. And 20% of the time, I’ll reverse that and keep the view as the main focus and have the couple almost hidden in the vast landscape.
Do you have a bucket list location for an elopement shoot?
Um yeah! Iceland, Scotland and Ireland are our top spots. We have many more, but those three are our prime locations.
If you could share one piece of advice regarding making the switch to elopements, what would that be?
Be prepared to have a lot of people question your sanity — meaning most brides grew up with a particular vision of a large traditional wedding in their head. And here you come telling them no, you should do it this way. It’s hard at first because so many couples don’t know there is another way. But once you explain everything, then they can see the benefit of it and how much more it’s suited to them. Also — most everything is geared towards the traditional wedding. So get used to having to figure things out on your own!
We hope that this article inspires you to think outside the box and potentially venture into the world of elopements, so you can experience the freedom that comes in that world as a photographer!
As a bonus, we collaborated with Ben to create a special elopement shot list and timeline template just for Miilu users! You can find them in the Miilu app under templates! Create your account at www.miilu.com!
Note: all photos featured in this article are credited to Benjamin Clifford (@nomad_elopements).