Traveling is hard enough, let alone finding a great photographer in your preferred style and price range! This guide is intended to help both photographers and non-photographers seeking professional photos while traveling.
Plan Your Trip
Listen, life happens and plans may change, but creating your itinerary is the first step to success before starting to look at photographers. Once you know where you're going, how long you'll be there, and where you'll be staying, you can work within those boundaries to find a great artist within your preferred budget and style.
If you've been following a photographer's work closely and you really want them to capture your memories, consider if it may be worthwhile to shape your itinerary around where they are based. Keep in mind that they may be booked or traveling while you visit so it's often best to resort to my first bit of advice.
After establishing the foundation of your trip, you should make a short list of things to further consider:
Will you be there during the weekday or weekend?
What will the weather be this time of year (don't look at the daily forecast yet!)
Do you want your photographer to trail along while you see or do something? If not, are you imagining a styled or lifestyle session?
Think about where you're staying or visiting. Which terrain or architecture aligns most with what you'd like to see in the background? I try and choose iconic or memorable backgrounds so that it's obvious the photos weren't taken where we live.
How many people will be photographed?
Build Your Budget
My session is in the United States.
Although the dollar is still the dollar state to state, the cost of living varies throughout the nation. Sessions will not cost the same in the Midwest as they do on the coasts, so be prepared to see your budget shrink or grow as you hone in on a number.
My session is abroad.
Most photographers like to be paid in advance of the session or at booking. Getting money to a foreign bank comes with a wire transfer fee so be sure to add that to your conversion estimation and total budget spend.
Watch the historical strength of the dollar against other currencies and try to schedule your payment when you see the dollar strengthen!
Define Limits (if you have any)
No matter if your session is domestic or abroad there is more than one way that photographers structure their business to earn revenue. Here are some models that you're going to encounter and should consider:
Pay for the session and get all digitals;
Pay for the session, pay for some (3-10) digitals, pay for some prints;
Pay for the session, pay for some (3-10) digitals, pay for some prints
Pay for the session, no digitals included, pay for some prints only.
As you move into the next stage (research) look at the pricing page to determine which model your desired photographer offers.
Start Researching Photographers
I recently traveled to England with my husband for our annual international adventure. Although we had a tight timeline to plan, I was able to find Lucy Williams of Lucy Williams Photography (formerly My Heart Skipped Photography). Here's how I approached Lucy about working with us since I am also a photographer.
Instagram and Facebook are great for beginning your search. Most of us know how to prowl hashtags and locations to see who has been tagging content to see if they're worth keeping on a shortlist.
Google and Bing offer very different searching experiences. I utilized both to see what might surface. For example, Bing is a Microsoft product and comes as the standard web browser on those products. It's important to know that while you search as there could be content ranking differently on that search engine based on the types of users who own a Microsoft device. Don't forget where you're traveling to as well. I had to think...In England do they use Google? Bing?
Ask friends! Do you know of any friends or photographers who have traveled where you're going and who have hired a professional?
Read the news in the towns you're visiting. If it's a small town there may be photographers running ads, being mentioned for their work, or taking photos for the publication.
Create A Pitch
Non-photographer seeking photographer:
I'm a photographer from Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. My husband and I are traveling throughout California March 14-21, 2019. We plan to stay in Twenty Nine Palms, March 19 & 20, and I would be so humbled to have a photographer capture some candid portraits of us as we explore the area or visit Joshua Tree National Park.
Might you be available March 19 or March 20, and could you tell me more about your couples lifestyle or portrait sessions?
Looking forward to your reply!
Yes, hello, I'd like a photographer seeking photographer pitch, please.
This is the exact pitch I sent to Lucy Williams of Lucy Williams Photography for our trip abroad. I used my business email and signature so to be transparent from the beginning that I admired her work and wasn't trying to slimily encroach on her business or practices.
I'm a photographer from Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. My husband and I are traveling throughout England March 14-21, 2019. We plan to stay in London, March 19 & 20, and I would be so humbled to have another photographer capture some candid portraits of us as we explore the city or visit a particular landmark or two.
Might you be available March 19 or March 20 and could you tell me more about your couples portrait sessions?
Looking forward to your reply!
I asked Lucy to weigh in on my approach. Here's what she had to say:
"Your approach was great. Your initial email was open, friendly, and gave enough details for me to be able to answer you easily with whether I was available and with more details on my couples portrait shoots.
You knew the dates you ideally wanted. Providing two dates was a fantastic idea. It gave me solid dates to work with and I was available for one of them (so that was a very good start)! You knew that you'd like to explore the city and possibly a few landmarks so that got me thinking of places I'd love to share with you both.
Your initial email started a conversation between us and over our following email chats I felt that as well as finding out more about what you had in mind. I also got to know you more. By the time we'd had a Skype call too, I was very much looking forward to meeting you on the shoot day - like meeting a new friend. :)
It was clear from early on in our conversations that you had done your research and you knew the photos on my website that you liked best. Sharing that with me helped to give me a good idea of where to go and how I could work with you both to create a set of images you'd love.
One of the most important things about the way you approached booking a shoot with me was your flexibility.
In a city like London there are many places to take wonderful portraits and there are also things the photographer will take into account when offering a photo shoot like: busy times of the day, places that need permission in advance, locations that look wonderful at different times of the day/year, the best vantage points for certain landmarks, and WHICH landmarks (in a large city like London there are many landmarks and photogenic places!).
For example, you mentioned that you'd like some wide shots with the city in the background. I immediately thought of a perfect little beach area along the River Thames with a vista of St Paul's Cathedral and the city in the background. HOWEVER on that day there was no low tide during hours with good light for photos (so no beach access) and instead, I offered you a backdrop of the city and the London Eye from a bridge crossing the Thames where high tide complemented the shot.
Your flexibility allowed me put together some lovely ideas to create a bespoke London portrait session just for you and Andrew and I really enjoyed being able to share with you some places that are slightly away from the more usual tourist areas. "
You're anxious to hire someone and you want to know right this minute if they'll say yes. Instant gratification runs pretty deep with most humans, so don't feel that this is abnormal. Some words of advice might be to:
Give your photographer at least 2-5 business days to respond to your request.
Ask one photographer at a time.
Start sending your asks 2-3 months in advance if you can and further out if you're seeking a weekend date.
Go On A Date
Seriously! Take time for a phone call or Skype date. Get to know your photographer a bit more before signing a contract. You may not be geographically close, but you do need to be sure that there's still comfort and chemistry.
After the date you may realize that you were catfished and your top choice wasn't what they seemed. It's okay to see other people!
I loved Lucy right away. She was so human and approachable. Even though we were separated by a giant ocean and a few vocabulary words (she's British!) we quickly felt like old friends and were able to share in a vision for our session together.
Enjoy Your Session
Revel in the time you get with your photographer! I was so excited to meet with Lucy before our session that I carelessly plugged my flat iron into a European outlet and fried it. My hair wasn't going to be long, loosely curled, and soft for our session. I opted for a side pony, tried to tease the top a bit, and ran with it. Part of this session is a reminder that life happens. We make plans, we have visions, and then something goes wrong.
I chose to move forward (even though I was very upset at first) because this moment truly reflected of my personal life throughout the past year. True to the theme, I was just going to roll with it and make the best of things. My husband's support (trying to troubleshoot the outlet, calling the hotel desk and asking for new converters or flat irons, and telling me it would be okay) really gave me a better energy on our way to meet Lucy.
Cherish Your Photos
Seriously! PRINT them, HANG them, LOOK at them every day and remember that moment. Life is beautiful and we are so blessed to have sweet moments of love, travel, and life captured. I'm so thankful for photographers like Lucy who gave Andrew and I photos to share for the rest of our lives.
Did you like my travel photos from this post? Email me for an invitation to an exclusive gallery where images are available for purchase.