Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Shoot My Travel gifted me a photography package in exchange for my thoughts on their service. Financial compensation was not received. As always, the opinions expressed here are my own.
Whenever we travel, Chas and I struggle to take nice candid photos together. It's always a little awkward asking people to take photos of you, and we often find that asking the next person that walks by doesn't always equal a great picture. People inevitably don't know how to use our camera or we just get our standard 'stand and smile' pose because we're embarrassed to do anything otherwise.
I've toyed with the idea of hiring a vacation photographer before, but it always seemed too expensive or too 'formal' - something reserved for newly-engaged couples or honeymooners.
But I recently learned about Shoot My Travel, a company that helps travelers find and book a vacation photographer for any occasion. Sounds like a travel blogger's dream come true, right?! I decided to give them a try to find out!
Psst.. Scroll to the bottom of the post if you just want to know my final thoughts!
HOW IT WORKS
Booking a vacation photo shoot with Shoot My Travel is pretty easy:
1. Select Your Destination - they offer a pretty extensive list of destinations across Europe, Asia, the USA & Canada, Oceania, and Central and South America. On our recent trip to Portugal, I decided that Lisbon would be a great place to shoot.
2. Choose a Photographer - once you click on your destination you'll see the list of photographers who operate there, including their name, short bio, and a small sampling of their work. While perusingd the site, I noticed that some destinations only have one or two photographers to choose from - so depending on where you're going, you may have limited choices. As I was booking our shoot in Lisbon I also found that it was hard to decide on a photographer because you couldn't really compare their styles based on only the five pictures provided.
3. Select a Package - Once you pick your preferred photographer, you then select a package. They offer a few different options - including one hour ($195), two hours ($275), and three-hour photo tours ($375). You can also book extra time or pay more for a surprise proposal package. Each package includes a private session with your photographer for the specified amount of time plus high-resolution edited images. Once you know which package you want, you're ready to book! Booking involves completing their form, which asks for your details, travel dates (when you want to do your shoot), destination, photographer, number of people, and any special requests. After you submit your completed booking form, you complete your payment and receive your order confirmation by email.
- It's important to note here that you don't actually get a confirmed date or time for your shoot, even though you've already paid. The set up seems like you'd be able to book instantaneously but after you complete your booking online, a Shoot My Travel concierge will contact you to coordinate with you further. For me, this was one area that was a bit confusing in the booking process. You can also book through their new iOS app where they can specifically check the photographers' calendar of availability and book them directly. The app allows you to book within a timeframe of 24hrs (the site recommends booking at least 5 days in advance).
After you get your shoot date and photographer confirmed, your photographer will contact you directly to coordinate the exact time and location. Then you meet up and enjoy your photo tour!
The shoot was definitely the highlight of our Shoot My Travel experience (as it should be, right?!). Our photographer, Marie, planned out an amazing itinerary, taking us to different locations so that we could get the shots she knew we wanted. Before we met up, she took the time to look at my Instagram (to understand my style and preference) and spoke with me about the types of architecture and sightseeing we enjoy doing. She combined all of that into an amazing photo tour.
Shoot My Travel's big selling point is that your edited photos are ready within 24-48 hours after your photo tour - guaranteed! These are sent via an online private gallery where you can view and download them onto your smartphone or laptop. The gallery also lets you mark which are your favorites and enables you to download them as a batch (so you don't have to individually download each of your pictures).
We had our photo tour with Marie on September 8 but weren't able to receive the final edited photos until September 13 because Hurricane Irma affected Shoot My Travel's normal operations (as the company is based in Miami). For us, it wasn't a problem because we weren't in a rush to get the photos and we understood this was something completely outside of the company's control. What is worth keeping in mind here though is that post-production photos have to go from the photographer to the Shoot My Travel team, who then puts them together in your online gallery before they're made available to you.
Depending on your package you'll get between 15-35 photos. You can pay for extra or get additional ones for free if you opt to let the company use your photos for social media and marketing purposes (just click the option when you complete your booking).
As for the photos themselves, take a look!
As you can imagine, the quality and style of the photos are completely dependent on your photographer. For us, Marie did a great job and I'm happy with the shots we got.
I will note however that with Shoot My Travel you're unable to get the unedited/raw image files. So when you're selecting your photographer, you're picking their photography style when it comes to both shooting and editing. For your average traveler or family, this isn't an issue whatsoever. In fact, this is probably one of the many reasons you'd want to hire a vacation photographer - to get those professionally-edited photographs. But as a photographer and travel blogger, I prefer to edit my own photos - so this was a bit of a sticking point for me.
Hiring a vacation photographer is a great way to capture special moments while you're traveling. Because it can be difficult to find and vet local photographers, Shoot My Travel helps you cut through that hassle by booking through them. The photo shoot is a fun way to see the city and spend a few hours - whether it's just you or with your family, friends, or significant other. Plus you don't need to worry about negotiating pricing or packages since everything is pre-paid.
As a travel blogger, I find this type of service great in principle but difficult in practice because you can feel like you're lose your creative control. Nevertheless, it was a great experience and I will continue to support companies that seek to promote local artists around the world.