Whenever I go to a foreign country, I don’t know what to expect. The surroundings are unfamiliar, I don’t know where the best angles are to shoot from, what time the sun rises and goes down, whether we will get chased away from locations (which did happen)… there’s just so many uncertainties. But the thrill of being in an exotic country shooting portraits is every photographer’s dream.

It’s only been a few days into my trip, but I’ve already learnt a few things, which hopefully will help brides and grooms plan for a pre-wedding / engagement or portrait shoot overseas.

1. Do your research about the locations you’d love to shoot at. How far is one location to another? Do we need to allocate more days for the shoot? Edwin and Dawn, my couple in Turkey, did an amazing job researching all the best places to go to and knew exactly what they wanted. It helps the photographer a lot!

2. It is best to travel with a make up artist, if possible. It gives you flexibility as you can decide when to start your shoot. And it’s a lot easier communicating with a Malaysian make up artist than one who speaks a foreign language! Unless of course, you’re like Dawn, who has an amazing Turkish vocabulary even though this is only her 2nd time in Turkey. For your information, a make up artist in Turkey is called a makyaj (pronounced mak-kias).

3. Do bring your own gowns and outfits (I think that’s quite obvious!). Though you can do some portraits in a casual outfit, I think it’s quite different wearing your wedding gown or a beautiful evening gown against a scenic backdrop.

4. Depending on the season you travel in, there are pros and cons – for example, if you go in summer months when there are heaps of tourists, you may have to visit major tourist hotspots in the wee hours of the morning or at night if you want to get shots without tourists in the background. For winter months, the sun sets earlier, so do plan for that, because it means less daylight for your shoot!

5. If you plan to go inside a tourist location, be prepared to be chased away. Most locations require some sort of permission – but in our case, even if permission is granted, sometimes it can be taken away! Nothing is certain when you are traveling… just be prepared to be flexible and not get upset when things don’t go the way you expect it to.

6. Be prepared to walk a lot. So do bring along a good pair of walking shoes, especially when you are not posing with your heels!

7. For photographers, here’s a tip – tripods and monopods are considered “professional” gear – at some locations, you will be required to check it in before entry. If you don’t need one, leave it behind. We had a monopod with us as we’re doing a bit of video, and the trained guards spotted it a mile away!

At the end of the day, have fun, enjoy yourselves and create memorable images!

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