Article updated on May 9, 2022
Growing up my family would go on vacation and we would take photos with film cameras, you know the “old fashion way.” After returning from our trip we would drop the film off at our local grocery store or Walgreens and anxiously await for them to be developed. It was always exciting to see if you had any good photos and praying that your thumb wasn’t covering all of the pictures (this happed to me more than I’d like to admit).
Today, vacationing with your family looks a little different, we walk around with instant photos in the palm of our hand and sometimes we can have hundreds of photos after a long vacation. Often cell phone photos never get sorted through and ultimately live in the cloud or on your camera roll until it’s time to upgrade to your next phone. But I believe there is a better way to capture family photos on vacations and in this article I will share with you a few tips on how to look for and hire the right photographer to capture your memories into moments you will want to frame.
On our one year anniversary, I decided we needed to start a annual tradition of professional photographs as a way to celebrate the occasion and secretly capture the Christmas card photos (but don’t tell Mike). This year we were in Arizona for a media event that just so happened to overlap with our one year wedding anniversary and Mike’s 40th birthday. When I was researching photoshoot locations, I discovered the beautiful Desert Botanical Gardens and knew we had to hire a photographer for this location and special visit.
Hiring a photographer to meet you during your vacation is a great way to capture beautiful images where the entire family can be included and you avoid the awkward selfies. But how do you even go about hiring a photographer, where do you find one and is it affordable? I’m here to answer those questions and provide tips in five easy steps.
Step 1: Choose a Date + Location
After you have booked your destination and you have your travel itinerary set, go ahead and start looking for your photographer. If you have a few dates in mind it’s good to have these on hand for when you reach out to book your photographer.
When you select your ideal photo location there are a few questions you need answered first. Does the location allow photography? Some popular locations and private properties require permission to take photos.
If it’s ok to shoot outside photography, is there a fee? Some of the popular photoshoot locations require approval and possibly charge a fee. If you are shooting at a location such as the Desert Botanical Gardens in Arizona, there was a entry fee and a reservation that I had to make prior to our arrival. With COVID protocols rules may vary by location so it’s important to do your research ahead of time. You can usually find out this information from your photographer or under the FAQ section online of the photoshoot destination website.
Step 2: Schedule Your Time
Keep in mind that outdoor family portrait sessions will revolve around when the sun is setting, early evening. Your photographer typically will recommend the best time to start shooting depending on the season and your location.
I recommend carving out two to three hours from start to finish in your photoshoot itinerary. This gives you time to get ready, travel to your photo destination, visit with your photographer before the shoot… and then the fun part – getting your photos taken.
Pro Tip: Plan to have a fun family dinner or gathering after your photoshoot. How often is everyone “dressed to impress” at the same time? Schedule a evening dinner after your photo session. We got lucky and the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona because they had a beautiful restaurant where we could sit down for a nice anniversary dinner after our photoshoot.
Step 3: Choosing a Photographer
Like many things, we have our preferences and the same goes for photography. I’ve found that using social media tools, such as Instagram, to search photography related hashtags is a great way to research talented photographers that may be living in the current city you are planning to travel to for vacation. For our one year anniversary photoshoot I knew we would be traveling to Phoenix, Arizona and started my search by looking at images on Instagram using the following hashtags:
When I found a photo that I liked aesthetically, I clicked on the image to see if the photographer was tagged or called out in the image caption. Even though we weren’t planning a wedding I know that wedding photographers are skilled at taking pictures of people and most likely have experience taking engagement photos, which is similar to anniversary photos. Once I found a photographer I liked, I looked at his Instagram page and website to get a good idea of his overall portfolio and most frequented shooting locations. From there I sent him a direct message to start a conversation about availability and rates.
There are companies that provide a service to book photographers all around the World. I have not personally used the services, but here are a few that come highly ranked based on my Google search, Shoot My Travel and Flytographer.
Step 4: Have a Plan B
We can’t control the weather and sometimes rain can completely stop us in our tracks on a outdoor photoshoot. It’s important to discuss with your photographer a alternative photoshoot location or even a second day during your travel that you could switch to if the weather just isn’t cooperating.
Step 5: Transportation
When you are traveling sometimes you don’t have a means of transportation like a rental car. We found ourselves in bit of hot water when our Uber driver decided to cancel a trip we had prescheduled to take us to our photoshoot. This added an additional layer of stress that was unnecessary. If you have the option to rent a car or if your hotel has a shuttle available, check on the transportation and prearrange it before your vacation and photoshoot.
As seen in, Brazos Valley Family Magazine