Staying on Budget with Your International Photo Shoot

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Do you have a professional photo shoot coming up in a foreign country and need some tips? Taking up an international photo shoot project can be an exciting and enriching experience that can add immense weight to your credentials. However, the project can quickly turn on its head if costs spiral out of control, burning a large sized hole in your pockets. Staying on budget may not be easy especially when you are going to shoot in a location that you are not familiar with but it is definitely achievable. Take a look at some tips on how you can make a realistic budget that can be adhered to:

  • A photo shoot that is well planned and thoroughly thought out is one that is likely to stay well within your budget. At the planning stage, outline the number of days you will need to spend at the location, look at accommodations/ pricing/ discounts applicable for bulk bookings, and factor in a few ‘buffer’ days in case the weather forces you to put off the shoot. Brainstorm with your team and think of all the expenses and all the contingencies that could have a financial impact and factor all of them in. Once your plan is ready, you can make a realistic budget that is easy to stick to.
  • Talk to people in the know about the location and if you have colleagues who have recently completed photo shoots there, make sure you get their advice. They can give you some valuable inputs about the expected and unexpected costs they encountered during the shoot and also help you get a fair idea of the general pricing levels for various expense heads there. Here at the Global Media Desk we conduct shoots all the time all over the world. Feel free to drop us a line should you have questions!
  • Work with local crews who know the local terrain, language, and customs and won’t incur travel costs or need to ship their equipment to the shoot location. Local crews not only help keep your budget down but their insider knowledge of the area with help to avoid any potential problems that could cause your budget to skyrocket. Be sure to check on the crew’s language skills and review their past work before signing them on. We can definitely assist should you need options for local crews – that’s our specialty. Just let us know. We work with crews with at least 5 years of experience, and a proven track record of work with international clients.
  • Traveling to various locations for your shoot can become very expensive especially if you will be shooting at remote locations that do not get many visitors. Hiring transport locally for the length of your shoot may be a cost effective plan if you can get a driver who is familiar with all the routes and directions. Hiring a car and making your own way may result in mounting fuel expenses and time delays if you end up driving around trying to locate the place. Furthermore, if your budget allows for it sending a location scout to do the leg work in advance and find the perfect locations might be more cost effective than driving around once on the ground.
  • Some locations may require special permits from the local authorities and you will need to pay for these too. Though the charges may be nominal, these expenses can add up and tip your costs over the budget. Before you leave for the shoot, check if the locations you have in mind require any such permissions and, if so, how much you will need to pay. Factor this into your budget for the trip. Does your destination country have special visa requirements? You can check on such useful sites as or
  • If you will be bringing in a lot of equipment, or obviously-professional looking gear such as lights, etc., you may want to seriously consider getting an ATA Carnet ( This travel document will allow you to easily bring your gear in and out of any member country without running the risk of having to pay stiff customs penalties. It is always advisable to check with the local team what gear they have available on the ground and what you can just rent locally. That will help shave that extra baggage, and reduce luggage fees.

At the Global Media Desk we have helped hundreds of companies make their international photo shoot happen on schedule and within budget. We are here to help! Please contact us if you have any questions or need any advice on the best way to handle your photo shoot abroad.