Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

A great vacation photo is a memento that will outlast any trinket you’d pick up in a souvenir shop. It’s a tangible memory that will sit framed on your desk, be featured in photo albums, be used as computer or smartphone wallpaper, or be turned into your social media profile pic. That’s why hiring a professional photographer to capture your family at its best—on vacation—can prove a priceless investment well worth the cost. After all, local camera pros know the lay of the land, so they can identify the best spots and times of day to capture the best photos. In some cases, they might even gain access to cool settings that you wouldn’t know about. Hiring a pro also takes the burden off you trying to awkwardly selfie-stick a photo of the whole family, or asking random bystanders for help. For groups and families, it eliminates the need to ask one unlucky member of your party to step out of the shot to take the photo. If you’re inspired to seek out a vacation photographer for your next getaway, read on for tips on how to make it happen.

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Finding a photographer

Thank you, internet. Finding a vacation photographer is much easier nowadays, with some strategic online sleuthing.

Global photographer networks
Companies such as Flytographer make it easy to connect with a professional photographer in your travel destination. Just visit the website and enter your destination and—voila!—you’ll be served up a curated selection of photographers who would love to schedule a vacation photo session with you. Browse their portfolios and availability calendars online before reaching out through the platform to request a booking. Snappr is another company with a strong network of photographers worldwide. After entering in some key information, it emails you its curated photographer recommendations and pricing.

Most photographers today have a presence on Instagram, as it’s a highly visual platform where they can freely showcase their best work. Use this to your advantage. Search hashtags to find photographers in your travel destination. For instance, if you’re headed to Dublin, you might use #DubinPhotographer.

Google and Yelp
There’s no denying the power of fishing for leads using Google and Yelp. Type strategic keywords into the Google search bar and scroll through the first several pages of results to see what you net. Again, using Dublin as an example, you might type “Dublin photographer.” Leverage Yelp to see which photographers in your travel destination get the best reviews—and which ones come with red flags.

Facebook travel group pages
Facebook has group pages devoted to pretty much every destination on the planet. Find a few that are specific to your travel destination and request to join them. Once you’re admitted, you can ask for recommendations for top vacation photographers in the area. You’ll no doubt get qualified responses, often from the professional photographers themselves with links to their online portfolios. (Not to mention, these pages are an amazing place to collect all sorts of tips and recommendations for your travel destination.)

Travelocity search
Hit up the Things to Do feature on Travelocity. This area of the site features attractions, activities including professional photo shoot packages for destinations around the globe. For instance, when you type “Dublin” and your travel dates into the search bar, this professional photo shoot experience is among the offerings.

Hotel concierge recommendations
Go old school: Ask your hotel or resort concierge for recommendations. Email or call the concierge desk at least a month ahead of your trip (as some photographers will book out pretty far in advance) and let them know you’re a future guest with this request. Chances are, the concierge team has a few local photographers whom they regularly refer. Some resorts even have an in-house photographer or photography service directly bookable through the concierge desk.

Disney vacation perk: The Memory Maker
If you’re headed to the Happiest Place on Earth, you are in luck: You’ll encounter Disney PhotoPass photographers in iconic spots throughout its theme parks. While it doesn’t come cheap, it’s worth purchasing the Memory Maker in advance of your trip, as you’ll get unlimited digital downloads of all professional photos taken during your Disney vacation. This includes those taken by the PhotoPass photographers at the parks, plus the (often hilarious) ride photos.


Vetting your photographer

Once you’ve found a few promising photographer candidates, do a deep dive into their work to determine if it aligns with your taste, vision, and budget.

Check the photographer’s website and online portfolio
Browse the collection of photos featured on the photographer’s website. Does it jibe with what you want in a souvenir vacation photo? Are there certain photos that you’d love to replicate? Are you looking for posed photos or candid shots, and which seems to be this photographer’s specialty? If pricing is noted online, does it fall within your budget?

Scroll through his or her Instagram account
Photographers highlight their best work on Instagram. Do you like what you see?

Check online reviews
Be mindful of what others say (or don’t say) about a photographer in the online reviews. You’ll want to consider all points of contact with this professional, not just what the finished product looks like. Is communication ahead of the photo session good? Is he or she easy to work with? Is the follow-up after the photo session good, with photo galleries received in a timely manner?

Pay attention to email correspondence and phone calls
As you begin reaching out to potential photographers to inquire about availability and pricing, you may also get a sense of their personality, responsiveness, and transparency, all key considerations as it relates to your pocketbook and precious vacation time. Understand what is included in the price. Does it include the photo session and the photos? Or are the photos extra? If there are any red flags before you book, heed those concerns to prevent a potential hiccup during your vacation.


How to plan for your photo session

Sure, you could wing it. But if you’re paying a pro, a little due diligence goes a long way in making the most of your session and ultimately capturing those perfect vacation pics.

Identify the place (or places) you really want to include in the session
Know where you’d like to take the photographs, based on your own research and discussions with the photographer. If the destination carries sentimental value, pick a locale that has deep meaning for you, even if it isn’t the most popular place on Instagram. That significance will only add to the photo. Also be sure to factor in travel time between locations if you opt for more than one spot.

Pick a time when natural lighting will be good and where crowds will be fewer
Local photographers know which times of day are optimal for outdoor photos. Listen to them—you’re paying for their expertise, after all—and look at their portfolio for examples. They’ll also know when and where you’re least likely to be photo-bombed by crowds or random passersby.

Pick a time when the kids (and you!) won’t be fussy or cranky
It’s simple: Try to pick a window of time when everyone in your party (especially the littlest members) will be fed, alert, and happy (fingers crossed). If your kids aren’t at their best in the early morning—or that happens to be an ungodly hour of the day for you—don’t schedule a sunrise photo shoot.

Speaking of kids, hire someone who has experience photographing them
If you’ve got children or pets included in the photo session, make sure your photographer has this experience and it’s reflected in their portfolio. It requires finesse and fitness to photograph kids.

Plan the outfits
Ask your photographer for advice on colors and patterns that will photograph best, as well as clothing to avoid. You might even look at his or her portfolio to gather fashion inspiration from how others dressed. If you’re photographing as a couple or a group, it’s worth coordinating outfits with those who will share the photograph with you, as thoughtful color continuity makes for a cleaner-looking photograph. You don’t need to match perfectly (that can sometimes look cheesy and over-produced) but you also don’t want to clash with each other.

Consider the photo session part of the vacation adventure
Being photographed in a travel destination should be fun, especially if the photographer gains access to really cool settings. Approach the photo session as a vacation activity just like any other activity on your vacation itinerary. Relax and make the most of it, and this will shine through in the finished product.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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