Hiring Vacation ‘Paparazzi’ for Professional Photos Is Growing Trend

By Mary Pflum

Aug 10, 2012 7:04am
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Courtesy the Snyder Family

Summer vacation is a time for millions of people to set out on journeys full of fun and adventure. Vacationers usually take lots of photos to capture the great memories they’ve made.

Until recently, vacations that cost thousands of dollars were being captured on cameras that cost only a few dollars. But some people are changing that.

Enter Allie Hawkins, a photographer who says vacation photos shouldn’t be an afterthought. She makes a living at the helm of Island Photography, a company that captures memories for travelers vacationing on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

“There’s always that family member who is the one taking the pictures and is never in any of the photos. That’s usually the person who winds up hiring us to capture memories that include everyone,” Hawkins told “Good Morning America” in an interview that aired today.

Hawkins’ clients are part of a growing trend: people paying to have their vacations professionally photographed.

Her clients say the results – clean, crisp, blur-free images ideal for holiday cards and brag books – are worth it.

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Genevieve Shaw Brown, travel editor for ABC News, said social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, were a big driving force behind this phenomenon.

“People want to create the illusion that they’re having the perfect vacation or they have the perfect life and a professional photographer is certainly going to help you do that,” she said.

The Internet is full of vacation photo package deals, ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Those packages are available all over the world – from Disney resorts to the quaint streets of Paris.

That’s where the Snyder family of Kansas caught up with a photographer from Family Vacation Photographers, a company that travels the globe to capture vacation memories.

“It’s a nice way to remember our trip to Paris. When we grow up, we can show our kids that we went to Paris and Paris is a really beautiful,” 7-year-old Emily Snyder said.

For years, the Snyders have relied on the kindness of others for their vacation photos.

“We always ended up grabbing a stranger and asking very nicely to take a picture. But usually it didn’t look very good,” Paul Snyder said.

A few years ago, they got the idea to hire a professional photographer on a vacation to Florida.

The result was a series of beautiful, romantic images. They’ve been in love with professional vacation photos ever since.

“GMA” decided to follow a vacation photo tour in New York City.

For $175 a person, photographer Marc Samuels of Photo Trek tours, leads tourists on a private, 3-hour tour, taking photos along  the way.

Samuels’ tourists for the day were Bianca and Don Van Gelderen, siblings from Belgium.

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Marc Samuels/Phototrek Tours

“Our mom really wanted pictures of the both of us together on vacation, so I looked on the Internet for something like a photo tour,”  one of the siblings said.

But in this day of cell phone cameras, is it really worth it to invest in a photo tour?

Samuels said it is. He said amateur photographs may be improperly lit or composed, and may be too crowded.

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