The hustle and bustling of Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) makes it a street photography paradise for some. Unknown to most, this is where a picture speaks a thousand words applies. Due to its affordability and proximity to Singapore, I have the privilege to re-visit places in Ho Chi Minh City. Each time to capture the same places, yet different moments of that split instance.
Road side helmet store
Good morning Saigon
Breakfast with a view (watching the morning hustle)
Grab bike driver gathering
Introduction to the best PokeBowl in Saigon
@ Poke Saigon!
You can’t leave Vietnam without trying one of these street side Banh Mi
Give this touristy Ben Thanh Street Food Market a miss
This grandma made super nice fried rice!
Chill out at one of these wifi coffee shops, this is a vietnamese must-do!
Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls! Put it on the list!
Banh Mi again! Plenty of variations and each street store is different.
Santorini is one of the most romantic places in the world to have your wedding photoshoot at. Contrary to popular belief, it can also be one of the world’s greatest bargain for a wedding photoshoot. Our impromptu trip because of a great flight deal gave us the perfect opportunity to consider this beautiful Greek island as the perfect destination for our pre-wedding shoot. Read about my Santorini travel guide here.
While it is more common for Asians to have their photoshoot dubbed as a ‘pre-wedding photoshoot’, Western couples tend to call it their ‘engagement photoshoot’. With the internet revolution and our relationship with Google, bargains can be found with ease. I have heard of pre-wedding photoshoots in Japan or Korea costing in excess of SGD5000 and SGD2000 respectively, which I find overpriced. Wedding photography packages available in Santorini have quotations between the range of EUR3000 – EUR5000 from various agencies. Independent freelance photographers that are not based in Santorini will usually request to be covered for their flights and accommodation on top of their service fees. On a side note, they are usually based in Europe, which makes the cost of flights manageable.
As always, I believe that good things do not always have to come with a hefty price tag, so the hunt for an affordable yet high-quality photoshoot at an exotic location began.
Photo credits: Eva Rendl
Tips to getting a good deal
Engage someone local
This means that your photographer should ideally live near to where you want your shoot to take place. In this case, he/she needs to live in Santorini. Some of these photographers do not stay on the island throughout the year, so do plan ahead of time and consult them prior especially if you choose to go during off-peak months. Engaging a local photographer means that you do not need to cover their transportation and accommodation cost. We were blessed that our photographer kindly offered to drive us to each of our photoshoot locations.
Cut out the middleman and you will save yourself hundreds. If you are ready to take up the challenge, engage someone directly. Agencies are commercialised, and most of the time it is all about the money. They have running costs to pay so you can’t really blame them for charging higher prices but you can certainly avoid them by going straight to the source. Generally, freelance photographers are able to charge a lower price because they do not have overhead costs like rental and the hiring of staff. Included in the price you pay is purely their service and talent.
Do not be afraid to ask for discounts from freelance photographers
If you genuinely wish to engage your photographer for their services, try asking if they can offer you a better rate. If you are traveling during off-peak seasons, you have greater bargaining power. This has been personally tried and tested. The usual discount is between 10-20%. On the other hand, one potential drawback of traveling during off-peak months is that your photographer may travel out of Santorini for other assignments since, traditionally, more travelers visit the island during the summer and hence there will be fewer requests for photographers outside of summer.
It is not about the price all the time
Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your photos must appeal to you since you will be looking back on these moments decades on, so be sure to look through your photographers’ portfolio with much care. The composure and editing styles are some areas to focus on. Although price may be a big factor in your decision, it is pertinent to choose someone whom you feel comfortable with in your initial conversations and not completely place your focus on getting the biggest bang for your buck. Something else to consider is the number of edited or non-edited photos you will be receiving as this varies largely from photographer to photographer. Moreover, the number of locations and the option to split the photography session into day and night to capture different looks were crucial in our decision.
Do not take up photoshoot packages
Numerous couples we have encountered have mentioned that their pre-wedding shoot was part of the actual wedding day photoshoot package. The fact is that all photographers have their different specialities. The requirements of a destination wedding photoshoot (i.e Santorini) might be totally different from an actual day photoshoot, which is usually in a hotel or restaurant. Trust me, being a photographer myself, experience in the outdoors and the ability to compose a shot nicely with regard to larger surroundings play a big part in deciding how your photos turn out.
Photo credits: Eva Rendl
So what makes up the $1000?
We were flying to Athens and onwards to Santorini anyway. Adding flights and accommodation on top of that would not be a fair judgement because we need to compare apple to apple. Most wedding photoshoot packages exclude the cost of your air tickets and accommodation. Click here you are interested in how much it costs to have a vacation in Santorini.
3 hours of photography services at two locations (Oia and Imerovigli) – EUR 500
Hair styling (for the bride-to-be, we did a quick Google search and walked in to one of the local salons) – EUR 80
Dress and accessories – SGD 150 (most guys will already own a suit)
Make-up – DIY
Using an exchange rate of EUR1 to SGD1.6 (exchange rate as of Nov 2017), we are looking at SGD1078 for the photoshoot. That’s it. Now you must be wondering: then why are photoshoot packages so expensive? To name a few reasons – rental of multiple gowns, make-up artist, hair styling, transportation in between shoots and up-sell bundles.
If you are not fussed about having multiple outfit changes and your bride-to-be has practiced her make-up skills (hint: YouTube videos), or simply because you have always dreamed of the postcard-worthy blue domes adorning your pre-wedding photos, then doing your wedding photography this way is an excellent choice to consider.
A good job done, I reckon
It may get uncomfortable in heels as there will be some climbing up and down steep stairs
Things to note
The price paid is purely for the photoshoot only, excluding transportation, make up artist/assistant to tag-along and carry your change of outfits. Consider the time of the year. The weather will likely be very hot and humid during summer, which can be slightly torturous if you are in full suit. Not to mention time may be of the essence since there will be hoards of tourists, so these things must be taken into consideration before deciding on the time of travel. Note for the ladies, you may want to consider bringing a pair of sneakers to change in between shooting locations as there are heaps of tiny steps in Santorini.
Photo credits: Eva Rendl
Looking to plan a Santorini photoshoot? You can fill up the following form or drop me an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org for an exclusive discount code with Eva.
Milford Sound which is named by some as the 8th Wonder of The World , is one destination to put on your checklist when visiting New Zealand. To enjoy the beauty of it, it is highly recommended to take the cruise which departs from the ferry terminal. There are a couple of operators and they do have different itineraries to suit various preferences. I went on a fantastic experience with Cruise Milford which truly showcased the beauty of Milford Sound.
The question is how to make your way to Milford Sound if you are not on a helicopter tour. It is about 4 hours drive (one-way) away from adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. That means a whopping of 8 hours drive alone, especially straining if there is just one driver. Fret not, because the journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound is as breathtaking as the destination. Check out some of the useful information about the drive to Milford Sound from Cruise Milford. Road condition changes quickly, it is always a good practise to check it regularly if you are driving in winter because roads do get closed due to heavy snowfall. One good place to check is New Zealand Transport Agency. Milford Sound has about 200 days of rain in a year, do not be put off by the rain because there are much more waterfalls to be seen.
A quick trip to Milford sound can be done in a day, either through a coach or self-drive. A return coach trip costs about NZD80 which usually comes with a packed lunch and a humorous guide, it varies among different operators. But that being said, you will miss all the gorgeous pit-stop places along the way. I suggest a 2-3 day journey with a night stop at Te Anau. It is a beautiful town that lies at the border of Fiordland National Park and also the start of Milford Road (SH94 to Milford Sound). The Te Anau glowworm caves are also located here. We spent two nights here, with the day in between driving to and fro Milford Sound. We got a hooked up site at Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park completed with wi-fi and excellent facilities, it was a steal. Initially, we chose it because of the 40% promotion on Britz app which costs NZD28 for a night. We were literally the only campervan on the 2nd night, probably due to the snow storm warnings and hence trips from Queenstown were affected.
SH 6, shortly after leaving Queenstown
On route to Te Anau after a night of freedom camping in Queenstown
Take an evening troll around the waters in Te Anau and watch the sun goes down.
Milford Road is extremely scenic, one of my favourite is definitely the Eglinton Valley.
The scenery changed as we got closer to Milford Sound.
Plenty of photos opportunity while waiting for the Homer Tunnel traffic. The road was closed since the night before due to snowfall.
A Kea came to check us out during the wait. It is the world’s only alpine parrot, a very smart and curious creature.
There are no vehicles parking at the ferry terminal, the parking is located about 10 mins away and enjoy the stroll to the terminal. The guy at the booth told us that given the passengers load for our timing, it was perfect for moving around the decks.
Cruise Milford is at berth 3, subjected to changes though.
The sky literally cleared for us when we were about to set off, truly blessed.
We got this private area to ourselves, the upper deck is definitely better for the views. Coffee/Tea and cookies were provided in the lower deck for guests.
The Captain announced that he was bringing the cruise under the falls and anyone could try to go under it.
This dude was prepared for it, head to toe in Gore-Tex.
Imagine the views out there
Caught some seals camouflaged on the rocks.
A rainbow awaited us on the way back, couldn’t get any prettier isn’t it?
Enough of the beauty, time for a long drive back to Te Anau
Woke up the next morning in Te Anau with fresh snow all over