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Going on vacation? Why not book a photoshoot?!?

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

I've long been a fan of Airbnb when going on holiday. I love being able to vacation in off-the-beaten-path places I could never realistically live: a rustic converted barn in the Tuscan countryside, a shabby chic romantic Italian villa with a view of Lake Garda, a recently remodeled hundred-year-old French country house in Alsace. Each one, a unique jewel. Each one, an exciting new adventure I'd never get to experience otherwise.

But did you know that Airbnb offers "Experiences" in addition to accommodations? There are offerings such as tours on foot, bike and any other mode of transportation (Segway, sailboat, jeep, horse...). They have food-tasting tours and creative workshops such as pasta-making workshops, ceramic-making workshops and every other sort of workshop (in Barcelona, you can make your own espadrilles!).

Know what else they have? They also have photoshoots.

Airbnb Experiences are populated with many talented photographers offering photoshoots in big cities around the world, as well as in smaller touristic destinations.

[And I have no doubt that one day, Airbnb will also make "Experiences" available to people who want to offer and book them in Israel, even though they haven't yet done that. Right, Airbnb? We're waiting.]

How do you find a photographer?

woman in black and white in front of a church in Barcelona
Barcelona. Photo by Brayan Jaramillo Echeverry.

Go to Airbnb, type in your city and your dates... click on the "Experiences" tab on top... and all the experiences will appear below, including photoshoots. The experiences are so numerous and so varied that they give you the option to filter via categories, but unfortunately, there isn't a category for photoshoots. But don't worry, it shouldn't take you too long to look through the different options.

If it's a big city or a touristy destination, you'll have many photographers to choose from, offering a variety of packages at a variety of prices. From my browsing, the large majority of packages in big cities are extremely reasonably-priced (around $35 for 1-1.5 hours), but it depends on the location. Needless to say, this is much cheaper than what you'd usually pay for a session with a professional photographer. Typically, Airbnb photographers take groups of tourists on a shoot (other Airbnb Experience users who've booked that session, as on any other tour or workshop), but you can also choose to book a solo photoshoot or a photoshoot for just your family or group of friends. A solo/group photoshoot just for you can cost roughly $100-$200 for a 1-1.5 hour session (still very reasonably priced).

During an Airbnb photoshoot, the photographer will take you to well-known tourist destinations and landmarks where they can get iconic shots. Some might take you to remote places you'd never discover otherwise, on a jeep tour, for instance. They might dress you in something spectacular. "Flying Dress" photoshoots are a unique type of photoshoot offered all over the world (even in Israel) - the photographer provides the dress, as well as someone to help billow the swaths of material for the photos. Naturally, these photoshoots are more costly.

(My favorite extraordinary photoshoot? The Santorini Angel Wings photoshoot, starting at around $1000 per person. This particular shoot involves a photographer, videographer, makeup artist and hair stylist. Talk about an experience!)

When deciding which photographer to choose, there are several factors to take into consideration. There's the obvious, to begin with: cost, location and duration of photoshoot. You'll also want to check out the photographer's photos and reviews. If you like the photographer's photos, vibe, perspective and filter - you will be satisfied with your photos. Bear in mind that the photographer will post their best photos to Airbnb to attract clients. If the photos they've chosen to upload look like they were taken by Great-Uncle Wilbur while he was on his yearly vacation with Great-Aunt Lucille, or if the subjects are posing in cheesy, kitschy poses - keep on looking for another photographer. You want outstanding pictures, otherwise you may as well just have your travel companions take pictures of you.

Booking a regular communal photoshoot with other tourists will result in about 100 photos from the shoot. If you book a solo photoshoot, you will probably get about 1000 photos. The photographer will work quickly, shoot a ton of photos and send them all to you. Some will be great; many will be bad. But you will have enough good ones. You'll go through them and keep what you love, and discard what you don't. Some photographers offer light editing for a limited number of photos. It depends on the photographer. (And if you want more retouching, there's always Fiverr.)

woman leaning on a balcony in the rain in Barcelona
Don't wait until the last day of your vacation to book your photoshoot! (It rained!) Photo by David Murillo.

When should you book your photoshoot for?

*Sigh* Please learn from me.

If at all possible, don't wait until the last day of your vacation to book the photoshoot. Because you never know what might happen, and you might need to reschedule.

I booked a photoshoot for the day before I was to leave Barcelona, and it rained.

It wasn't supposed to rain.

The weather report indicated that it wouldn't rain.

And yet... it rained.

We only got to 2 of our 4 destinations, and I missed out on some very unique landmarks - but I did get some beautiful pictures from it.

If possible, book the photoshoot for golden hour, around the time that the sun is setting and casts a warm, hazy glow on everything. The photos will come out all the more magical for it.

Now for the most important thing...

woman in a straw hat on a romantic stone balcony
Accessories like a hat will change up the look of your outfit. Photo by David Murillo, Barcelona.

What to wear to your vacation photoshoot???

You might be able to change your outfit midway through the shoot, or you might not. (Ask your photographer in advance.) Wear an impactful outfit that is flattering, and that you feel good in. Solid colors are preferable to very busy patterns. If you insist on a pattern, make it a big one. Avoid anything too tight; you will see bulges. (*Sigh*... Ask me how I know this...)

Bring accessories to play around with for the sake of variety. If you're not able to have an outfit change, adding accessories can make it look like you're wearing a whole new outfit.

What accessories will spice up an outfit and make the photos more interesting?

- a hat (wear it on your head or hold in your hand as a prop)

- a shawl (play around with it in the wind or wrap it around yourself chicly)

- sunglasses (to wear, or hold in your hand as a prop)

- statement jewelry or brooch

- a statement belt

- a pretty purse (hold as a prop)

- a blazer or jacket (you will look like you're wearing a completely different outfit)

- heels (if it's a flat, smooth, "walkable" area; or take off your shoes and hold in your hand as a prop)

If you want to... really glam it up! (You know I'm always in favor of that.)

Then - let go and have fun!

* If you're in Barcelona, I can recommend Brayan's Airbnb Experience for truly unique and spectacular photos.

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