I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a trend in professional vacation photography. While the article positions professional photography as a luxury “add on” to resort packages, it is also a valuable, inexpensive souvenir most any vacationer can afford and should consider. Here are five great reasons you should factor hiring a pro photographer for your next family outing, vacation of a lifetime, or honeymoon.
1. Relax! Vacations are meant for relaxation, fun, and taking in the local scenery. Hiring a professional photographer to capture a few lovely moments frees you from a mountain of worry. You don’t have to think about whether the batteries are charged in your camera of smart phone. You don’t have to fret over whether you have enough memory cards. Or worse, whether you’ll accidentally delete all of your photos. You won’t have to bother other vacationers or locals to snap an iffy photo of you, nor hand your precious electronics to strangers. If your phone and camera are safely tucked away back at the hotel, they can’t be lost or stolen. You can rest assured you are guaranteed to have a beautiful set of photos to share and enjoy when you get home. You might also want to look for a photographer who offers custom photo books, so you never have to worry about organizing a shoebox of prints later.
2. Quality We’ve all been there… Your eye sees one stunning, colorful, moving scene, yet your camera captures something completely different–usually much to your disappointment. Or you want to use a cropped version of your favorite portrait for your next Christmas card, but the digital file’s too small. Smart phones cannot decipher all the colors of nature, various focal points, nor offer alternative lighting sources. Your point-and-shoot creates fairly small digital files, too small to crop or zoom in for large prints later. Essentially, what your shoot is what you get. The pros use high end equipment, creating giant digital “negatives” filled with pixels and data you can crop, zoom, enlarge, and manipulate in ways regular consumer cameras cannot. They also have the ability to light elements in ways your point-and-shoots and smart phones cannot.
3. Art and Creativity When you hire a professional photographer, you’re not just getting his/her time. You are also getting her artistic eye and years of experience creating captivating images. There will never be one person missing from the photos because he/she was behind the lens taking the shot. Your photos will not be a series of extended arm/up the nose/double chin nor shots of your feet, because you’re always holding the camera. She knows how to frame the perfect shot to tell a story. She is an expert at working with kids to capture all their candid, expressive moments. She knows how to position people in groups and in ways that flatter their faces and bodies. She uses all the best angles and lighting to look naturally amazing. She’s got the ability and equipment to create lighting on subjects, backgrounds, and details in between (no silhouetted people against sunsets!). She retouches photos just enough to add an extra pop of color or dramatic flare, ensuring your vacations photos look as magical as you remember it being.
4. Local and sustainable Vacationers are increasingly aware of their impact on local environments and economies. In addition to booking non-commercial hotels and eco-tourism activities, eating local, and tipping well, hiring a local artist is another way to support local businesses. Most resorts offer on-staff photographer packages. But they are not trained artists, they’re button pushers on summer vacation from college. I highly suggest taking a few minutes to do an Internet search for the area’s local wedding photographers, check out their portfolios and business reviews. Local wedding photographers know all the best locations, are able to gracefully work on the fly, and can deal with all personality types. Almost all will jump at the opportunity to spend a brief period (compared to exhausting, all-day wedding assignments) that allows for tremendous creativity and a few days to edit and post your photos–just in time for delivery when you get home! Do remember the value you get in hiring your vacation photographer and don’t haggle over reasonable prices (they’re not street vendors peddling cheap knock offs). In addition to spending a couple of hours with you, your photographer also spends hours editing your photos on expensive software and computers, pays insurance to cover equipment damage and liabilities, and has to pay taxes on her income.
5. Cost The typical American family plans months in advance for their family vacation. If you can manage to save up thousands of dollars for travel, airfare, food, recreation, etc., why not factor in a few hundred more for beautiful memories to last a lifetime? Most professional photographers charge about $200 to $500 (depending on the prints/books/gifts in your package as well as the level of experience and quality of your photographer) for a one to three hour session. When you start your budget planning, add this in from the beginning. If money is super tight, consider more self-restraint of impulse purchases, tchotchkes, and overpriced ephemeral items like “fish bowl” cocktails with dry ice and watered down rum. Remind your loved ones of the plan not to make such purchases in lieu of your family or couple’s photo session.
Of course, you won’t want a photographer with you every moment of your trip. So, go ahead and take a simple point-and-shoot with you on that safari adventure or to snap a quick pic of your intimate, candlelit bungalow. But take just a couple of pictures, then tuck your camera out of sight. Leave the smart phone cameras with Internet connectivity back at the hotel. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to chat with friends on Facebook (or overshare your vacation), read news updates on Twitter, or check just one more stressful work email when you should be recharging and revitalizing yourself, enjoying time loved ones, and just soaking in the moment. If your photographer is doing a photo album layout for you, most would be happy to include pictures you took as well, to tell the complete story of your trip.
Next time you’re cruising the Internet for vacation ideas, look up some local photographers too. Factor a photo session in to your itinerary like you would a trip to the spa or a whitewater raft ride. Not only will your vacation be more carefree, you’ll also be supporting a local artist and have fabulous photos that make your friends swoon and a souvenir you’ll truly cherish for life.