23 Vacation photography ideas and tips for memorable photos (2024)

Your ultimate guide on vacation photography to get those amazing holiday shots that you can share with friends and cherish even after the holiday is over.

You may be wondering why vacation photography is even a thing… If so, let’s imagine something for a second!

So, you have a wonderful, well-deserved vacation coming up – congratulations!

Seemingly, everything is in place: you have purchased the tickets, planned the itinerary and your suitcases are bursting with amazing outfits that you’re planning to wear during your vacation. Of course, you have also remembered to stash some local currency, pack electronic essentials and charging cables. Perhaps, you’ve even researched food places close to your accommodation…

However, there is one thing that you probably haven’t factored in, or ever really considered. And yet, it can truly make or break your vacation. This is especially true when it comes to cherishing the precious moments you’ve experienced after the holiday is over.

That magical thing is vacation photography! This article is great if you don’t know much about this exciting option, or always wanted to hire a vacation photographer but unsure where to start!

So what is vacation photography?

Just as any other photographer, a vacation photographer takes quality photos of you under specified conditions (location, time, price). The twist is that the shoot will happen at your holiday destination!

From divine Fiji beach photography to romantic sessions with Parisian backdrops, anything is possible. No more awkward smartphone shots or carrying carry around a heavy DSLR without really understanding the proper use of it.

Whether you’re after family vacation photography or are a solo traveller looking for gorgeous content for your shiny new blog, hiring a professional photographer can help you reach those goals, and much more. In other words, it’s hard to overestimate the benefits of vacation photography!

11 reasons to consider vacation photography

Despite the obvious benefits, vacation photography is an investment – so it’s wise to weight the pros and cons to decide if hiring a professional is the right move for you (spoiler alert: it probably is).

Here are some reasons to consider vacation photography when planning your next holiday:

  • With a fixed number of leave days and many commitments, most of us don’t get to enjoy regular vacations. Chances are, you’ve been juggling work days, planning extensively, and perhaps even saving for it. However, what most people don’t realize is that getting wonderful vacation shots on your own is very difficult. This results in either lots of frustration or mediocre images that really don’t do your memories justice.
  • Whoever is responsible for the camera almost never makes it into the frame, which can be frustrating. And what if you are traveling alone, with no one reliable to take a picture? It can be risky business trying strangers to help you out, as you can’t be sure they won’t run off with your camera equipment.
  • Speaking of awkward photos and being in the frame – while selfies can be fun, they are certainly not great for a memorable trip album. In addition, selfies don’t capture backgrounds very well. So, you might as well have taken them whilst sitting in your backyard.
  • Unlike your travel buddies, a vacation photographer guarantees a certain quality of images. This approach reduces the chance of being stuck with blurry duds that won’t ever make it to an album.
  • Even if you or one of your travel companions are well-versed in photography, consider professional help. After all, what would you rather do on your trip – enjoy the surroundings or worry about carrying around a heavy kit of extra lenses, tripods, and spare flashlights?
  • Your vacation photographer is likely to be a local with great insider knowledge of the surroundings, so you’re basically getting a free personal tour guide add-on with your shoot! And it doesn’t only apply to finding the best vacation photography locations! Your photographer will also be able to recommend food and entertainment off the beaten tourist path. Win!
  • Taking the photos is only a small part of the process. Editing is where the most exciting things happen. By using a vacation photographer, you don’t have to worry about fiddling with your shots. Just leave it up to the professional and get ready to receive the images inbox after the trip, all beautifully edited and amazing.
  • Depending on your preferred photography style, you can hire a photographer who specializes in that and gets stunning results. From candid shots capturing special moments to meticulously staged compositional masterpieces, anything can be achieved.
  • Following up from the previous point, you can choose any backdrop you fancy, from a secret garden to relaxed café views. The possibilities are endless!
  • If you’re feeling a bit awkward in front of the camera, a professional photographer is just what you need to help you relax. They will also suggest poses and help with the overall composition.
  • Finally, not only vacation photography creates amazing memories – but it’s also a lot of fun! Partially, it’s because you don’t have to stress about getting a perfect picture. But mostly it’s just about enjoying the process and developing connections with the local culture.

Alright! So what should you look for when hiring a vacation photographer?

Vacation Photography - ShutterTurf

There are certainly good practices to follow when hiring a professional vacation photographer. Following the tips below will ensure a smooth, fun experience from processing the payment to enjoying yourself in front of the camera!

  • Reference check – Now, let’s be real – it is not always possible to perform a thorough reference check on a professional located overseas. However, there are still a few things you can do. Perhaps, they are active on a photography forum, have a Facebook page with lots of reviews, or even better – one of your friends has already used their services? Knowing that information will give you complete peace of mind.
  • Review their work –  Fortunately, these days there is no need to review physical prints or anything like that, as most photographers proudly showcase their work on social media. A good example is Instagram, whereby using appropriate hashtags and browsing through local photography pages you can quickly find numerous leads and inspiring works. Alternatively, your photographer may have their own website with a high-quality digital gallery. This is a great opportunity to browse through their favorite shots.
  • Speaking the same language – Ideally, you want to find a photographer who can speak English (or even your mother tongue if it’s something different). Especially in rural areas, this may be difficult, and you may be offered a translator. However, this is not an ideal option. Having to communicate through a translator distorts the meaning, slows down the process and just kind of kills the vibe by having an extra person there. In addition, translation services will likely creep their way into the photoshoot price. See, they also have a family to feed, just like the photographer. In other words, anything is possible – but try going without third parties if you can.
  • Experience –  We’ve already touched on this above – and generally, you want to stick with the most experienced vacation photographer you can afford. It can feel like an unnecessary expense, especially if it’s your first time dealing with vacation photography – however, you’re making lifelong memories here! Before downgrading to a complete newbie due to lack of funds, think about other areas you can potentially save on. Why not ban buying pointless souvenirs, for example? Quality photos make far better memories anyway! You can easily turn them into gifts by ordering custom printed magnets or postcards, instead of coming home with a bag full of snow globes.
  • Equipment –  A truly talented photographer can make do with anything they’re given. However, to truly get your money’s worth, make sure they’re using professional equipment as opposed to a smartphone camera.

How much should you pay for vacation photography services?

One of the most sought-after vacation photography tips is how much you should be paying for your shoot. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer! The price depends on so many factors, including but not limited to:

  • Your destination – On average, chances are in a fancy European town you will be paying more than in a rural village in the middle of Asia. Do your research and consider the general cost of living, minimum wages, etc to better gauge if the asking price is fair.
  • The photographer’s experience –  This one goes without saying – a famous photographer who’s published in numerous reputable magazines is going to charge much more than an amateur-recently-turned-professional! In this case, the price is not always reflective of quality. However, that’s often the case. Whilst you might be able to find a very talented rookie on the cheap, do extensive research before going that route. Ask for testimonials and make a list of questions! In saying that, expensive doesn’t always equal great, so make sure to view your future photographer’s work and decide whether their style suits you.
  • The package you’re getting –  Are 5 or 25 edited photos included? Are there any fancy extras such as quality prints shipped right to your door, or a beautiful hard-copy album? If you can afford those and want to get pampered – by all means go for the extras, you probably won’t regret it. However, if the budget is tight, consider customizing the package to your liking. This way you might be able to pay less whilst still getting amazing quality, just not the frills.

As a general rule of a thumb, hire the most reputable vacation photographer you can afford, carefully weighing the importance of the add-ons offered. Whilst this might not be a specific answer you’re looking for, this is the true industry wisdom!

Is it safe to hire a vacation photographer?

With all the scams going around targeting travellers, you might be wondering if it’s safe to hire a vacation photographer. Of course, there will always be people around trying to take advantage of tourists, but you might be surprised to find out that in case of travel photography, the person behind the camera is often targeted by scammers!

For instance, one photographer said the following after experiencing a massive phishing scam: “I got lucky and they managed to freeze the account and get my money back several days later. I’m afraid others may not have been so fortunate”. The vacation photographer was nearly duped by the fake Fader service assignment promising $6300 worth of work and featuring a fake contract. This is just an example of how photographers can easily lose money (and sanity!) agreeing for vacation photography gigs.

The above is just to give you perspective – however, it’s still important to follow basic safety precautions, such as:

  • Booking your vacation photographer through a reputable service, or directly through their website.
  • Making sure that all the paperwork is in place, and the contractual obligations are clearly identified.
  • Preferably not paying the entire fee at once before the job has been completed.
  • And if you can, consider catching up with your photographer a few days before the shoot, in a public place such as a café. This way you’ll get to know each other a little bit better and will get an opportunity to discuss the details in person. However, such meetings aren’t always possible due to other commitments.

In summary, be sensible and vigilant – and you’ll be totally safe!


And there you have it – the ultimate vacation photography guide!

Hopefully, the tips above persuaded you to consider hiring a professional photographer for your next trip.

And if you’ve already used a vacation photographer before, please share your personal experience in the comments below with everyone – good or bad!


  1. whenever my family and I go on vacation, we always end up taking the photos you describe, selfies with likely someone out of frame with none of the beautiful vacation background. We definitely should think about investing in a well-reviewed vacation photographer who will give us photos that will be worth the money. Thanks for all the great ideas and tips!

    • Oh man, this is another tip I’d never thought about! I like the not-having-to-worry about it aspect, but getting some of those gorgeous locations in the background is also a huge plus!

      I’m going to LA for my birthday, and I’d love to get some good shots of all the places we’re visiting. Hmm….

  2. You know, I never really thought about hiring a vacation photographer. I’ve been searching around looking for vacation photography tips and tricks (my pictures always seem to look blurry, and I wanted my vacation photos to be great!) but I never though of actually hiring someone to do them FOR me. I like being able to have someone edit them after the fact!

  3. When it comes to spending quality time with your family… enjoy it. I’ve found that there’s nothing else in the world as great as spending time with your loved ones. That being said, I suggest capturing your vacation moments in any form possible. A vacation photographer is a great way to get the very best shots.

  4. I have had the same problem with a fake vacation photographer! It was partially my fault though because I didn’t do very much research about them. Lesson learned and I now get any references and see their work before hand.

  5. Vacation photos are a necessity if I should say because the only thing that remains with you after those huge expenses is the memories in photographs
    During my trip to Europe last summer, I had wanted to hire a professional photographer who has a heavy online presence with lots of positive reviews but his pricing was way too much than my budget so I skipped it. I missed the memories though so next time when going on a vacation, I will do proper research and include the budget for such professionals.

    • So true Kerry. We all take vacations once or twice a year but if you have great photos to remember the times by, its not a good feeling. Anyhow, now you have shutterturf to find yourself a great photographer for your next vacation :). We hope to be in most of the tourist cities soon.

  6. Yes, we had a great experience during our last summer vacation. We were recommended to a photographer who followed us around taking various shots which were really nice. Back to our AirBnB apartment and reviewed the various shots a few days later, we ended up purchasing the prints package from him, and they all turned out beautifully. They make great gifts as well!
    What is a vacation without those beautiful shots for the memories anyway? ??

    • Couldn’t agree more, Tanya. What’s a beautiful vacation without any incredible photos for remembrance. We defiantly recommend everyone to hirs a professional vacation photographer on their travel trips. The results are so worth it!

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