Ahhh España - land of vino, tapas, and siestas…
…While visiting Spain’s capital city, I also quickly learned that it’s a photographer’s playground. From the trendy barrio of Malasaña to lush Retiro park, Madrid is practically begging to have it’s photo taken…and I happily obliged.
My camera and I hit the streets to soak up the sun and sights, snapping photos all the way. There was just one problem… I was travelling solo. I was taking a lot of pictures of pretty things and pretty places, but I wasn’t really in any of them… and I just wasn’t gonna stand for that on my first trip to Spain.
Thankfully, I found a solution… and, even though it involved stepping out of my comfort zone a bit, I’m pretty happy with how things played out.
No, I didn’t ask strangers on the street to snap pics for me, and I also didn’t tote around a tripod. This time around, I did something I’ve never done before - I went on a photo tour with a professional local photographer.
I know, I know… hiring a local photographer might seem like a big, bougie (unnecessary) expense, but, all things considered, it’s a great way to kill multiple birds with one (investment) stone. I mean, just look how the pics turned out!
I call this one, “Kirst gets bummed.”
Jk, jk… there really were some great ones - this shot just TRULY captures my awkward essence and makes me laugh every time, sooo I had to include it. (FYI… taking photos in Sol is HARD).
There are a number of great reasons to hire a local photographer when travelling… even if you (like me) consider yourself to be an independent photo takin’ woman who don’t need no (camera)man.
Why It’s Worth It
Capture Quality photos (That you’re Actually in)
For one… getting solid vacation photos where you’re in the frame is a common problem amongst solo travellers and even couples, families, or friends who want decent shots together while on holiday. I’m sure you’ve been there.
At some point, we all eventually break down and experience that dreaded moment… That moment when you’re scanning the scene and carefully scoping out the people around you to try and spot the friendliest and most capable looking stranger who might agree to take a (hopefully decent) photo of you.
Most of the time you get lucky, and, turns out, they were looking for someone to snap their photo, too, but rarely do you find a stand-in camera(wo)man who knows exactly what they’re doing.
Once in a blue moon you come across a heavenly photo snapper. I’m talkin’ someone who knows all the right angles, takes multiple shots, and masters the candid. Unfortunately, most of the time this isn’t the case… or perhaps I’ve just been unlucky.
I tend to get the “snap one and done” guy who takes a single photo that either a) I’m not ready for, b) is out of focus, or c) has a finger covering the lens. They usually always quickly pass my phone or camera back and ask, “Is it good?!” and I never have the heart to say no and give it another go. Maybe I’m just a massive chicken, but these awkward shots still haunt me… but have deterred me from ever wanting to ask a random stranger for a photo ever again - lol.
By hiring a photographer, you avoid those awkward moments (and horrible photos)… and come home with great shots from your holiday… sans fingers covering half the lens, avec YOU!
See ( + Learn about ) the city from a local perspective
Professional photographers KNOW the best photo spots in their cities. They also know how to find quiet corners and work different angles to capture quality shots at even the most crowded tourist attractions.
By taking a photo tour with a local, you’ll see a lot of the sights you were planning to hit anyway… and likely some that you didn’t even know existed.
On my photo tour in Madrid, I didn’t just see pretty places and pose for photos. I also learned a lot about the sites and became more familiar with the city.
SAVE TIME & MONEY ( + Space in your carry on )
Thanks to smart phones, just about anyone can capture nice enough travel photos… or you can splurge a bit on a digital camera to bring along on your travels.
Even with a fancy smartphone or DSLR, if you want nice photos with you (or you and your travel companions) in them, you’re still gonna have to pull the whole “ask a stranger” card… or you’ll have a tripod around. I’ve been there, too, and it’s not ideal… especially when you’re walking miles around a city in the heat of the day… or when particularly cranky airport officers tells your tripod is too big to carry on (or, my personal favorite, a “weapon”) before taking it off you at the security screening table
By hiring a photographer, you’re paying a professional who already has all the necessary equipment and skills to capture high quality memories of you on holiday. This means you’ll save yourself money on camera (and multiple tripod) purchases, and you’ll save yourself the time it takes learning how to properly use it… (not to mention the peace of mind that comes with not carrying expensive equipment around a busy city all day)!
On top of all that, you also don’t have to worry about photo editing (which is a VERY time consuming process - if you know, you know). Joel sent me all of the best photos from our tour, already perfectly edited, just a few days later!
Sooo, though it may seem like a big, additional travel expense, by taking a photo tour with a local photographer, you’re actually saving yourself a lot of money and time in the long run.
My Photo Tour Experience
I had my Madrid photo tour with Joel Potter of Joel Potter Photography.
FULL disclosure - Joel, a fellow NC native, actually went to the same university as me. Though we were never particularly close at the time, we did have several mutual friends and ended up at a lot of the same “get togethers.”
After moving to Europe around the same time last year, I reconnected with Joel and his girlfriend Natalie via Instagram over our mutual Europe adventures. When we all linked up in Madrid last month, I hadn’t seen either of them for 7ish years… maybe more - (who knows… time flies post bachelor’s degree).
Natalie was kind enough to let me borrow Joel’s insta-boyfriend skills for the day, (and to hold my bag + turn the other way while he snapped photos… and I tried to sort out what to do with my hands/feet/awkward body). It wasn’t quite the same as meeting a photographer for the first time and jumping in front of a camera… but still a little awkward at first.
We did a quick run through some of Madrid’s top spots on a tour he recently started giving through AirBnb Experiences, and I’m so happy with the results!
Even though being in front of the camera is something that is still pretty out of my comfort zone, Joel was patient and gave me suggestions on how to pose/where to look, which resulted in some pretty great (not completely awkward) photos.
If you’re looking for an affordable solution to your vacay photo dilemma, and want to hit all the best photo spots while visiting Madrid, I’d definitely recommend booking a photo tour with Joel.
Planning a trip to Madrid?