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?

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

BYOP: (Bring Your Own Photographer) for better shots

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.

Because of the widespread use of social media venues, most of us feel pressure to post high-quality, evocative photos of the places we visit. ©Henry H. Holdsworth

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.

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.

A professional can provide you with unique pictures, capturing the beauty of your experiences. ©Colin McNulty

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,