From New Zealand to National Geographic: How a busker changed my wedding photography business

Guest post by Nikola Smernic
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Our sponsor Nikola Smernic is a wedding photographer from Croatia who’s in love with traveling, and covers weddings all over the world. Here’s how a trip to New Zealand changed his business forever.

The photo that started a chain reaction.
The photo that started a chain reaction.

In August 2013, I received a National Geographic award when my photo was chosen among 10 winning photographs. It featured a girl and a busking piano player I stumbled upon while traveling through (the absolutely beautiful) Queenstown, New Zealand. I wrote about the whole experience over here. In short, both of the photo subjects reached out to me when they found out about the award through the media coverage, and I still keep in touch with both the busker and the little girl!

Sarah and Dan's wedding in Marakesch
Sarah and Dan’s wedding in Marrakech

I especially loved it when I was contacted by a couple from New Zealand, who, after reading about that very story, asked me to shoot their wedding in Marrakech. Sarah and Dan’s wedding was beautiful, simple, and stunning. I loved their reason for choosing Marrakech: they visited before and loved it so much they decided to go for the simple destination wedding there, without any usual decorations. Or, as Sarah said, “I wanted Marrakech itself to be our wedding decoration!”

And, in the end, it was that wedding — with its atmosphere and the intimate feel — that reminded me of Mathias, the piano busker’s music.

Bit by bit, the perfect pieces of my wedding photography business were coming together…

This was another award winning photo, from Katharine and Erik's wedding in Croatia.
This was another award winning photo, from Katharine and Erik’s wedding in Croatia.

Now, my wedding slideshows have always been my favorite way to present a story of a wedding day. They feature the best and most important photos of the wedding day, which are then complimented by music, which in turn completes the whole story. My clients love them for the same reason — it gives them the opportunity to be reminded of their wedding whenever they want, and they’re also able to show their friends the short and entertaining version of their event.

From Holly and David's wedding in Croatia.
From Holly and David’s wedding in Croatia.

I also like making slideshows, having fun with them, trying new features, and making it all fit together. But ever since I started making them, I’ve only ever had trouble with one thing — background music. To use famous songs without permission, like a lot of people do, seemed unfair and not okay to me (even though I tinkered with it — yes, I admit it). But it just didn’t fit with what I wanted to portray.

I know what you’re thinking now: what does that have to do with the slideshows and their background music? Well, the music for my slideshows found me through that National Geographic photo… By the end of 2013 I had bought the rights to use the busker Mathias’ music for my slideshows. Even better… with the money Mathias received from me, he had partially financed the recording of his new album!

That one photo brought me a new friend on the other side of the world — an exceptional independent artist whose work I can support, promote, and use in the best possible way.


If you’d like to get a discount on this particularly awesome, independent artist-supporting, destination wedding photographer, you need to act fast…

Nikola is offering a 15% discount to on his photography packages for the next THREE couples who book him for 2015!

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