How to Enjoy A Photoshoot While Traveling: Part ONE

Photo credit: genius photographer Anthony Bellon

Photo credit: genius photographer Anthony Bellon

I LOVE doing photoshoots. I can’t help it; I’m juuuust vain enough that I find it fun.

I realize this is not the case for many people, so this is the first in a three-part series where I’ll walk you through the process I undergo when I decide I want to do a photoshoot while traveling.

For purposes of these posts, we are NOT talking about the following: family photos, headshots, honeymoon photos, wedding photos, etc. A lot of what I discuss will be relevant to those situations, but I’m not going to go into detail about anything other than my own personal process, which is having photoshoots while traveling that I can use for social media and website content.

What do you want?

First, I decide what I want to get out of the photoshoot: am I looking for photos to use on my website’s About page? Am I looking for photos I can sprinkle throughout social media? If so, do I want close-ups on my face, full-body shots, detail shots, action shots? Generally I want a mix of all of the above.

If I have some knowledge of my destination, I’ll add anything specific I want to capture to the mix. Once I have an idea what I want, I’ll make a list so I can share that with the photographer.

For example, the list I included in my queries to photographers in Paris looked like this:

  • Drinking wine/coffee/cocktails

  • Window shopping

  • Reading

  • Hanging out in parks

  • Detail shots

  • Close-ups

  • Interested in black and white as well as color

I regret to inform you, but there is some homework involved

The MOST important part of the process is choosing your photographer. Hands down. Not only do I want a photographer who seems proficient in their craft (there are a lot of great photographers out there), but I want someone whose style matches what I envisioned when I made my shot list in step 1.

I also want someone who shoots fast - that is, who prefers to set their camera with a fast shutter response time so we have a ton of options to choose from and I can feel free to move around and pose my fanny off and not worry that they’re going to miss the shot of the day. Other people might prefer someone who’s a bit more deliberate in their style, with a lot of direction and posing.

Price is also a consideration - photography is a valuable skill, as is the ability to edit well, and a photoshoot is, rightly, not usually an inexpensive proposition. In my case, the photoshoot is an investment in my business, so I’m willing to spend some cash on it, but I also don’t have an enormous budget. That being said, this is a classic get-what-you-pay-for scenario.

Where do I find photographers? I’ve had good experiences using services like Flytographer, but the best results have come from photographers I found on Instagram. For recent shoots in Paris, I searched #parisphotoshoot and #parisphotographer and scrolled through the top and recent photos looking for posts that had the same look and feel I was going for.

Specifically, I was looking for shots that appeared candid and/or used unusual angles or perspectives. I was NOT in the market for your standard photoshoot poses or locations (no Eiffel Tower for this lady!).

Once I narrowed my field of potential photographers, I emailed each individually with what I was looking for. I also favorited the photos from their feeds that prompted me to reach out to them and sent them a collage of those photos so they had a better visual sense of what I wanted.


make sure you’re speaking the same language

One of the photographers I ended up selecting, Meiry of Flanerie Photo, has a beautiful Instagram feed. I favorited photos I liked on her feed that had the same flavor I wanted from my shoot and sent her this compilation picture to ensure we were speaking the same visual language.

Make sure you understand the obligations of signing up; most services and individual photographers will want a deposit to hold the date. Flytographer will take both the deposit and final payment via credit card; most independent photographers will want the deposit paid via PayPal or Venmo and the remainder in cash at the end of the shoot. Ensure you know what the expectation is so you leave plenty of time to hit up the ATM beforehand if it’s a cash situation.

Finally, get on the same page as the photographer about what you can expect to receive as the product after the shoot is over - how many photos? What format will they be in? Color? Black and white? A mix of the two?

Like anything, the keys here are communication and setting expectations.

Next week: What do I wear? How do I do my make-up? What do I do if I’m nervous? All this and more, friends…