Cabo Destination Wedding Photography 101 – Our Interview with an Expert

One thing our couples are always asking us about is how to plan the photography for their big day, especially for their destination wedding photo shot lists. We have a pretty good idea but wanted to provide the most accurate information possible, especially for brides or grooms planning a Cabo wedding.

We are privileged to work with the best wedding vendors in Los Cabos, and Romana Lilic of LA76 Photography is an industry influencer and expert on wedding photography in Cabo. Arianna Ocampo, the Managing Partner of Del Cabo Weddings, interviewed Romana to find out what makes destination wedding photography in Cabo tick.

Arianna: How long have you been a photographer, Romana?

Romana: I moved to Los Cabos in 2007, and I have been doing photography since 2008 when I became the editor of a Baja lifestyle magazine. Moving to Mexico from another country gave me the ability to see things differently, noticing things others might take for granted. When I visited Todos Santos for the first time, I ended up with 400 photographs of cactus and Baja landscapes, I was so impressed at how diverse and beautiful the nature is in Los Cabos.

I had never dreamed I would ever even visit Mexico, let alone live here! Nature, the ocean, the desert, the different cultures, old towns, colonial architecture, SO many colors! I love traveling around Mexico and visiting small colonial towns, which are full of colors and history. My new home in Baja and all the trips around Mexico are a base for my editorial and lifestyle style of photography. Soon, people started contacting me to photograph them or their wedding, and in 2012 we began photographing weddings in Los Cabos.

It has now been nine years and I can tell you I absolutely love Cabo wedding photography! Another differentiating factor is that my husband, who photographs together with me, is an architect with beautiful visions of composition, light and alignment. I learned that from him, and combined with my own editorial vision and the desire to capture emotions on photographs, it helps us when capturing a couple’s love story when photographing beach weddings as well as weddings in hotels.

Couples come to Cabo and the Baja because they love the location, so the photos need to show the couple and their love story with that backdrop. We want the images to include a full story of their wedding day, from their love and all the emotions, along with the location and everything they planned and designed, the colors, the ceremony space – basically all the details and the whole story of their wedding day.

Arianna: What do you love most about weddings?

Romana: When a couple chooses us for their wedding photographers, I always feel so humbled. It is such an honor and a big responsibility that we don’t take lightly. In the end, the food is eaten, the flowers will dry, but the photos will remain a forever memory about your wedding celebration, which you, your family, your friends, your children and grandchildren will cherish forever.

Arianna: What is your favorite part of a wedding shoot?

Romana: I think there are two… of course, capturing the love of the bride and groom and the special moments during their portrait session. And the other is all the excitement and emotion on their day. Photographing someone’s wedding is one of the happiest days of their life, everyone is happy, everyone looks their best, and it fills me with joy and love. I also love the wedding vows and speeches, I always cry!

Arianna: Do you shoot both digital and film? If not, how do you work with a videographer?

Romana: At LA76 Photography we photograph in digital. We have a video team that we work with often, and have worked with many other video teams with no problem.

Normally when we know the bride is having a wedding video shoot we meet with the video team before the wedding. We coordinate and work with them together as one team, because it’s not about us or about them, it is about our couple, and the main goal is to achieve the best photo and video coverage for the couple

Arianna: How do you like to schedule a wedding day? Do you do any venue shooting in advance?

Romana: We work together with the wedding planner to get the best idea of the timeline, and if needed, we give our suggestions so we can capture every aspect of the wedding with the optimal timeline and best light. From getting ready to the first look, the ceremony details, the wedding ceremony, the portraits, the details of the reception, the dancing, the speeches, dancing, everything.

We also always coordinate with the bride and groom, based on her wishes, and coordinate the timeline that they feel most comfortable with. The goal is that they enjoy their day, and not feel forced to do anything. 

Arianna: Whenever you are shooting in a venue that you have never shot before, do you normally go there and check the best spots that will work best for the day of the wedding?

Romana: Yes, for example in Cabo we have probably been in 97% of the locations, but when we do other Mexico destination weddings we go a day before the wedding at the same time that the ceremony will happen so we can see how the light is and what is the best for the views or the locations around it so we see how the light affects the space. We also come early on the day of the wedding to see where the ceremony is set up and  see more locations for photos.

Arianna: Have you had any interesting requests over the years?

Romana: Yes, a few. Once, we were part of a photography team at a five-day Indian wedding in Vancouver. I loved photographing their traditions like tying a turban for the groom, and painting bride’s hand and foot henna, how they poured the milk poured on car tires, all the traditions that were new to us, it was really nice. Once we also had a groom arrive to the ceremony on a helicopter, James Bond style, it was spectacular! 

Arianna: Have you received requests to do wedding boudoir shoots? It was a big trend a couple of years ago.

Romana: Yes, we have done a couple of them in the last nine years.

Arianna: Do you have any funny stories to share?

Romana: Okay, so one interesting story…after the tropical storm Lydia, we had a wedding the next day at the Resort at Pedregal (now known as the Waldorf Astoria) and instead of taking 20 minutes to get there, it took us three hours. We had to drive through tunnels of sand – it was unbelievable. But when we got to the resort it was perfect, it was beautiful like nothing had happened. The bride and groom were amazing, and the photographs turned out stunning! 

Arianna: What are your top tips for couples when planning their photos and shot lists?

Romana: I would say:

  1. Write a list of family formals in every combination that you want to have; then tell all these family members to not leave the ceremony site after the ceremony is finished, and have your MOH or a bridesmaid help you coordinate gathering all these people for the photos. Having a list written down is very important, because we photographers doesn’t know who your family members are, and trying to find them all can be stressful and a loss of time, which you could use for you and your groom’s portraits!
  2. Write a list with each loved one, a couple, or a group of friends that you want to have your formal wedding photos with. Perhaps your grandparents traveled from afar, or your aunt came from Australia, maybe your high school basketball friends are all here… Don’t forget any combinations, because this is a unique, one day opportunity to have a photo taken with your favorite people.
  3. I recommend doing a bride and groom session a day or two after the wedding. During the wedding day, we all follow a schedule of events, and you might only have 25 minutes for your bride & groom portraits, or you might want to spend as much as time possible with your guests at a cocktail hour. Having a day-after bride and groom session is in my opinion the best way to have a relaxing session with your hubby or wife, re-live those special moments, and get amazing newlyweds portraits. 
  4. Trust your photographer and your wedding planner – they are professionals and their main goal is to make your dream wedding come true and capture it on photographs.
  5. Don’t forget to enjoy every moment of it! 

Arianna: These are great, thank you!

Romana: My pleasure, thank you so much, Arianna! I can’t wait for our next wedding or event together!

For any questions about planning a destination wedding in Cabo, reach out to us! To see more of Romana and Mariano’s work, visit LA76 Photography and Instagram @LA76photography.

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