The trend for uploading holiday photos on social media has led one travel company to include a personal photographer to document your trip and deliver a daily supply of Instagram-friendly images for you to share online
It’s difficult not to feel insecure scrolling through the Instagram feed of El Camino Travel. Svelte, well-dressed travellers dance in front of brightly painted doorways on Latin American streets, plunge into crystal clear waters, and generally look like they’re having a better holiday than you ever will. They’re certainly having a more beautiful one.
Still, it’s easier to look good when you’ve got a personal photographer in tow – and El Camino includes a professional snapper as part of the package on its small group tours in Colombia and Nicaragua. The photographer will deliver dozens of images to you each morning that “you can immediately share on social media”. Launched last year and with tours already sold out for 2015, it’s one of a growing number of travel companies capitalising on the desire among travellers to capture their trip in stunning photographs and, perhaps more significantly, share them online.
Companies such as Flytographer and Shoot My Travel have also honed in on the rose-tinted travel fantasies of the Instagram generation. These connect travellers with local photographers, who will show them around the city and share tips, while “discreetly” taking holiday shots.
“Nowadays, if we don’t document it and put it online it’s like it didn’t happen,” says Valerie Lopez, the Miami-based photographer who set up Shoot My Travel in 2012. “We created the service for people who like to travel light and don’t want to worry about anything but being there. When you’re worrying about taking a good photo you’re not in the moment.”
As Linda Fox, deputy editor at travel tech site Tnooz says, travel photography “remains among the most viewed content on social media”. According to a Facebook survey released in January, 83% of us now use the net while on holiday and almost half of us post snaps to the site when they get home. And stats compiled by visual media consultancy getchute.com show that this June alone more than 3.8 million travel-related photos were posted to Instagram. Think #beach #landscape #sunset #hotdoglegs. For some it’s evidently a commodity worth paying for: Shoot My Travel offers two-hour tours from £160, Flytographer will provide a two-location shoot for £225. At El Camino the cost of the photographer is part of the cost of the tours, which start at £1,320 for nine days.
Rosa Park, editor of design- and photography-led travel magazine Cereal, attributes the emergence of businesses like El Camino “largely to platforms like Instagram”.
“One of the most fun times to upload stuff is on your travels,” says Park. “Obviously it’s usual to have a photographer for a wedding, but societal norms have shifted.”
An aesthetic has emerged in the travel shots found on Instagram, echoed in the photos used to promote El Camino in particular, but also Shoot My Travel. “There are definite trends within photography,” says Park, “images that evoke certain moods and have certain styles: misty mountains, a tiny person on a rock, a cityscape from above, feet sticking out in front of scenery. And as we become more alert to that, people on their travels look to take a specific set of photos.”
As for whether she would pay to have someone take her holiday snaps for her, Park feels it takes a certain kind of person. “You have to have the personality for it, you have to feel comfortable in front of the camera and like beautiful photos,” she says. “But for our generation taking photos and sharing has become more normal than ever before. And why wouldn’t you want a great photo of yourself?”
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