Vacation Photographers: Would You Consider Hiring One?

Candice Gaukel Andrews June 2, 2015 15
If you’d like to capture professional-looking photos of the whole family on vacation, hiring a travel photographer for a few hours could be a good investment. ©Alek Komarnitsky;

If you’d like to capture professional-looking photos of the whole family on vacation, hiring a travel photographer for a few hours could be a good investment. ©Alek Komarnitsky

One of the many joys of returning from a trip is being able to relive the experience by sorting through your vacation photos. Chances are that you managed to get a few really good ones among the hundreds—made possible by the ease of digital photography—that you erase. Unfortunately, whether you’re a single traveler or someone venturing out with family members and friends, it’s rare to be able to get a shot that includes you (and everyone else in your group), unless you depend on the kindness of a passing stranger.

A new trend, though, is solving that problem. What was once considered a luxury is now becoming popular with a growing number of tourists: hiring a professional photographer to tag along on at least part of their trips.

Could this be the logical next step for the average traveler, or is it just another example of narcissism fueled by the ubiquitousness of social media?

BYOP: (Bring Your Own Photographer) for better shots

It’s hard to get a travel shot that includes you (and everyone else). ‬©Mark-Hickey

It’s hard to get a travel shot that includes you (and everyone else). ‬©Mark Hickey

Because of the widespread use of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and other social media venues, most of us are feeling the pressure to post high-quality, crisp and evocative photos of our vacations for our friends, relatives and even the world at large to see. No longer do our vacation photos merely reside in dusty albums on our shelves, only to be pulled out when a handful of family members and friends visit. Today, we “advertise” and distribute our adventures to hundreds—maybe even thousands, for those of us who are well connected—via the Internet.

So, for many, hiring a professional travel photographer makes a lot of sense if the goal is to ensure that you’ll return home with images of “magical moments” not only from milestone events—such as a honeymoon or anniversary trip—but from annual vacations to the mountains or national park family outings.

Advocates of the practice say that it frees them from lugging around camera equipment to various attractions and interrupting everyone in their group from whatever activity they are involved in to take a picture. Hiring a professional photographer frees you to become fully immersed in your vacation. Sure, you could take selfies—photographs that require a reversal of your camera and a hyperextended arm—but they never seem to look candid or natural.

Too, a professional vacation photographer will know about local taboos and customs regarding photography, keeping you from committing a serious cultural faux pas. And a pro will provide you with unique pictures, since he or she has the eye to capture not only you but the sights as you see them and the emotions your travels engender.

Companies are jumping on this travel-trend bandwagon

Flytographer is one of the first vacation-photography service providers and a major player in this field. The company uses more than 250 local, vetted photographers in almost 130 destinations on every continent except Antarctica. All you have to do is go online to the Flytographer website, browse the available photographers in the location you’ll be traveling to and book your shoot. Packages range from $200 for a 15-photo, 30-minute session to $600 for shoots up to 90 minutes.

A professional will provide you with unique pictures, capturing the emotions and beauty of your experiences. ©Henry H. Holdsworth

A professional will provide you with unique pictures, capturing the beauty of your experiences. ©Henry H. Holdsworth

Nationwide, resorts and theme parks are starting to see the demand for this kind of service and have begun to offer their own photo sessions for purchase. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, now sells the “Disney PhotoPass,” a package (that costs about $170) that includes the services of professional photographers stationed at various locations throughout the park. You simply hand your PhotoPass card to any of the photographers on site, and all of the pictures they take of you and your family will be connected to your account. It has been reported that at one Four Seasons hotel in Hawaii, guests can hire an $800-per-hour photographer to snap their beach walks or other explorations of the environs.

Some believe that this new craze is just another bad idea and obnoxious behavior that social media has bought about. Increasingly, they say, we are not only being forced to deal with over-the-top escapades and destructive acts so that their perpetrators can get a lot of “hits,” we’ll now be inundated in the outdoors by people with their pros in tow, setting up the perfect shots, asking us to move out of the way and keeping us from quietly enjoying the experience of a place.

The question is: how much professional documentation of our lives do we really need?

Do you think that hiring a professional photographer for a few hours on a once-in-a-lifetime trip is a wise investment? Or is this trend just another self-centered by-product of our fascination with social media?

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,



  1. cedric haymon August 14, 2016 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    How come you can’t do both while on vacation? I’m sure you can still take pictures yourself. The pro shoot should add to the overall experience of your trip…Have your cake and eat it too…

  2. Judith Doyle June 6, 2015 at 4:00 am - Reply

    No, what an appalling idea. Many of the most rewarding experiences come about through meeting a local, having a chat, perhaps being asked to their house. Having a professional photographer would turn it into a different and more formal occasion. And you, as the writer, know what sort of angle you,re taking and this affects the pics you take.

  3. David Pilla June 5, 2015 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Interesting implications – as with wedding photographers, there could be sticky wickets via liability and contract misunderstandings.

  4. Cliff Bandringa June 5, 2015 at 8:00 am - Reply

    If a tourist would like to return from their trip with quality pictures on a DVD or webpage (social media too), so that they can easily pop in a disc at home or send a link to a friend, and money is no object, then to me it sounds like a great business opportunity. Couple the tag-along photographer with the service of cleaning up the pictures in Lightroom and creating a quality slideshow, and it’s worth the money to many people. Realize that even Ansel Adams said that 10-20% of his time was spent behind the camera, whereas the remaining time was in the darkroom and other chores. As my wife and I create our “virtual travel guides”, we find the same ratio that Ansel said. We cherish the good weather days to be out in the field doing our photography, but we also cherish the bad weather days to be indoors in front of our computers. Do you think your average tourist is going to spend the time to really learn their equipment and then spend the majority of time behind behind a computer? No, if they have money, they will gladly pay for a quality service and product.

  5. Henricus Peters June 5, 2015 at 6:30 am - Reply

    My opinion is: no. Unless you have money to burn, simply learn how to take good photos yourself. Often there are others on the same route so you can then take a couple/group picture. Also, raw nature pics usually do – unless you want to take photos for a travel article – the get a better camera!

  6. Barakalla Robyn June 5, 2015 at 5:19 am - Reply

    this is one great idea, especially for ecotourism industries!

  7. Nicole Simpson June 4, 2015 at 9:32 am - Reply

    I barely take photos of my trips myself. I personally get more out of the experience if I plug out.

  8. Ahmad Mahdavi June 4, 2015 at 4:33 am - Reply

    Hi Candice,
    I love to do this, during my PhD in Canada I did a course on scientific photography as a part of a wider/ bigger course and I as a nature photographer always love to do this.

  9. Caroline Martin June 4, 2015 at 4:32 am - Reply

    Whoa, That is quite mad. I certainly would not want someone I don’t know to tag along with me to take my photos… I would rather take bad photos which are a good souvenir to me. But, hey, why not…

  10. Thomas Sawyer June 4, 2015 at 4:29 am - Reply

    Very individualized and circumstantial of course. As for me, taking my own pictures is just one part of the overall experience, and there will also be pros and cons of having professional photos taken. The why, what, when, who, and where may influence one’s decision.

  11. Julie Scharlin June 4, 2015 at 4:27 am - Reply

    I’d prefer to take my own photos. No need to hire a professional photographer and spend extra $$.

  12. Bruce McLennan June 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    There is something seriously wrong with your brain if you’d even consider having a photographer along to stuff up your relaxing holiday, unless of course they were a very close friend you wanted there anyway. The charm of holiday snaps is often in their lack of professional sophistication. Learn how to take better photos yourself if it is an issue.

  13. Larry June 3, 2015 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Like many, I think that this is ridiculous unless you are a consumate narcissist or have more money than you know what to do with.

    Just go out and buy a camera with a timer on it and get a gorilla pod to set it on. Or carry a tripod along with your camera bag and lenses (if you have them) or just rest your camera on a rock or log and set the timer.

    It’s digital photography so you can do it several times to get the shot you want anyway.

  14. Dr. Jalil S.M. June 3, 2015 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Vacation photographs talked about by CG Andrews is a wonderful idea. Documentation of adventures in still or video is very very important for one’s life and it becomes very valuable even in terms of money. Some people though use to do it but not in a technical way. Many have by now missed this opportunity. I must appreciate the idea of hiring photographers and encourage those who have the opprtunities. I have some done by myself but not upto the mark. I missed many golden and rare opportunities, I feel bad at the far end of my life. I do therefore encourage hiring photographers if one can afford. It has immense value.

  15. Delina Alwanger June 3, 2015 at 5:23 am - Reply

    It certainly will impede the spontaneity and organic feel that we most value in our vacations. You would have to plan and regiment your days. I certainly would not consider it.

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