Review: Should Flytographer Be Your Travel Photographer?

Sometimes selfie sticks are great. Sometimes its also great to pay a human to be a selfie stick.

I can get a great photo of someone else. But they can’t take a great one of me. Or a great photo of us both. How about the first time I take my daughter to Disneyland? (Okay, I don’t have a daughter, but I would definitely want pictures of that.)

Nicole Smith founded Flytographer back in 2013 as a travel photography concierge service, which is now available in 191 cities throughout 63 countries. Prices start at $250 USD for a 30-minute shoot, so it’s not the cheapest of services, but it is almost certainly a *convenient* one, and has a lot of appeal for couples, groups and solo travelers (who may otherwise have to resort to terrible selfie shots).

Like most people, I am a big fan of photos (clarification: good photos of myself I can post on Facebook). Let’s face it, we all love indulging our inner diva from time to time.

Deal alertThe company also provided us a reader discount for $30 off with MAPHAPPY30. The code expires August 31, 2017.

Here’s the price breakdown

Flytographer offers several packages, including proposal packages and vacation packages. The proposal packages are more expensive than the vacation packages, and usually offer a one-hour consultation not normally included. But, unfortunately, no one was getting engaged here.

The most important part, really, is to determine Flytographers’ overall value. That’s done by calculating the price per hour cost, which ranges anywhere from $291.67 to $500 depending on the package. It’s also the best baseline for determining Flytographer’s price-to-value ratio against other private services.

It should be noted that for every 30-minute extension, there’s a $150 fee. It is generally more expensive to extend a 30-minute session to 60 minutes, or a 2-hour shoot to three hours. For all of the other timed shoots, though, you’re not really paying more or less for extending. 

Length Photos Locations Price Price/Hr
30 minutes 15 1 $250.00 $500.00
60 minutes 30 1 or 2 $350.00 $350.00
90 minutes 45 2 $500.00 $333.33
120 minutes 60 multiple $650.00 $325.00
180 minutes 90 multiple $875.00 $291.67


It’s a rather straightforward process

Behind the scenes. Jeff and Johnny, both right, hard at work. (Map Happy)

The booking process is simple. Flytographer requests a few pieces of information through an online form: how natural you are at the camera, what visual tone or “mood” you’d like, and of course, any preferred locations (though there are a few options to select from). In this case, we were happy to let Flytographer know we were total noobs.

Once the form is submitted, a Flytographer concierge will arrange the photographer and plan for any pertinent details. Time and location are set, phone numbers and hotel addresses are exchanged (for logistics).  The company recommends booking at least seven days before traveling; and offers a 90% refund if cancelled at least 48 hours in advance.

On the day of the shoot, our photographer, Johnny Wolf, met me and Jeff Wilser, author of Alexander’s Hamilton Guide to Life, in downtown Brooklyn. He gave us the standard package “tour”—okay, we’re both Brooklynites—since participants are actively encouraged to explore during the process. 

Most importantly, Wolf was a natural at directing the two of us, though things got particularly nasty (with pouring rain) in the middle of the shoot. Fortunately, cameraman extraordinaire was kind enough to take a big giant pause in the middle of the downpour, until things eased up. Once things let up, we moved on to the second and final location.

The company makes it pretty clear it has a weather clause, as well as it should, since no one can control Mother Nature. (Wolf offered to reschedule the second part of the shoot if the nasty downpour continued, that should be a testament to both Wolf and Flytographer.)

Photos (3300 by 2200 px) are then delivered five days later; 4×6 prints can be ordered an additional fee at $2 per piece.

The cheesiest couple shot replicated for your benefit. (Flytographer)

Things to definitely know going in

First of all, I don’t know what anyone booking the 30-minute session of Flytographer is smoking, but that’s way too short for any type of shoot, especially for people who don’t spend time behind a camera for a living (models). I don’t know about you, but I’m not Paris Hilton.

For most people, that’s right about the time you start loosening up and actually start looking like a normal person without a nervous tick on your face.

In one recent conversation with a friend about her engagement shoot, she remarked she spent about five hours to only get five or six shots that she really liked. In contrast, we felt about the same amount, but crammed into a 60-minute shoot.

Perhaps it was the magic of our deft photographer, but Flytographer seems like it does an excellent job of curating visual talent.

Flytographer also limits the number of shots you’re able to receive (though we received 40 for a 60-minute shoot), so if you’re looking through the roll with your photographer on set, realize that you may receive a very edited set.

Staring deep into the eyes of Manhattan. (Flytographer)

The difference with hiring your own photographer

Here’s the crux of it: the cost of hiring a local photographer can be substantially cheaper, assuming you’re not trying to hire a guy who has shot for The New York Times

Wilser noted he once paid a local photographer about $800 ($160/hr) for about five hours’ of headshot work previously, and another professional Brooklyn photographer noted his price for a three-hour photography session was $700 ($233/hr).

Notably, these prices are significantly more competitive than Flytographer’s price per hour, which clocks in at $291.67 at the lowest end. Meaning, the service could be anywhere from 25-82% more expensive than hiring a photographer independently.

(Expect to pay for it by sorting through and contacting tons of individual, local photographers. Depends on how you value time.)

Then there’s local wages that factor in around the rest of the world. The cost may be astronomically high for a NYC-based photographer, but in many parts of the world, other people make do on much less (like way less). Though there is a lot more QA work in looking for a vacation photographer, it’s possible to get it at a fraction of the price in Bangkok.

In terms of rights, Flytographer makes it clear the photos are for personal (not commercial) use. The photographer keeps the copyright and while it’s not a big deal, most independent photographers are often happy to release full rights, as well as share the entire reel.

Is it a wrap?

Regardless, the results were pretty satisfactory, though we found ourselves wishing we could see the full results. Getting the best bang for the buck requires a compare/contrast in regards to hourly cost, but Flytographer’s full-service program may be worth it for those not wanting to deal with the hassle of a potential language barrier.

(That tends to be an overblown fear, though, so it mostly depends on how much time you want to find an English-speaking photographer on your own.)

Locations available

*60-minute shoot required in some cities.

City Country
Buenos Aires Argentina
Brisbane Australia
Gold Coast Australia
Melbourne Australia
Sydney Australia
Vienna Austria
Freeport Bahamas
Nassau Bahamas
Barbados Barbados
Brussels Belgium
Placencia Belize
Bermuda Bermuda
Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Banff* Canada
Blue Mountain Canada
Calgary Canada
Halifax Canada
Kelowna Canada
Lake Louise* Canada
Montréal Canada
Mt. Tremblant Canada
Mt. Washington* Canada
Niagara Canada
Ottawa Canada
Québec City Canada
Tofino Canada
Toronto Canada
Ucluelet Canada
Vancouver Canada
Victoria Canada
Whistler Canada
Winnipeg Canada
Tenerife Canary Islands
Grand Cayman Cayman Islands
Santiago Chile
Hong Kong China
Shanghai China
Bogotá Colombia
Cartagena Colombia
Manuel Antonio Costa Rica
San José Costa Rica
Tamarindo Costa Rica
Dubrovnik Croatia
Zagreb Croatia
Prague Czech Republic
Copenhagen Denmark
Punta Cana* Dominican Republic
Quito Ecuador
Helsinki Finland
Antibes France
Cannes France
French Riviera France
Gordes France
Lyon France
Marseille France
Nice France
Paris France
Provence France
San Rafaël France
Valensole France
Mo’orea* French Polynesia
Berlin Germany
Hamburg Germany
Munich Germany
Athens Greece
Corfu Greece
Crete Greece
Santorini Greece
Antigua Guatemala
Budapest Hungary
Reykjavik Iceland
New Delhi* India
Bali Indonesia
Dublin Ireland
Tel Aviv Israel
Almafi Coast Italy
Bologna Italy
Capri Italy
Cinque Terre Italy
Florence Italy
Genoa Italy
Lake Como Italy
Lake Maggiore* Italy
Lucca Italy
Milan Italy
Naples Italy
Pisa Italy
Portofino Italy
Ravello Italy
Rome Italy
Siena Italy
Sorrento Italy
Tuscany Italy
Venice Italy
Kyoto Japan
Tokyo  Japan
Seoul Korea
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Mauritius Mauritius
Cabo San Lucas  Mexico
Cancun Mexico
Los Cabos Mexico
Mazatlán Mexico
Mexico City Mexico
Nuevo Vallarta Mexico
Playa del Carmen Mexico
Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Tulum* Mexico
Zihuatanejo Mexico
Monaco Monaco
Marrakesh Morocco
Yangon Myanmar
Amsterdam Netherlands
Auckland New Zealand
Tola Nicaragua
Lima Peru
Manila* Phillippines
Krakow Poland
Warsaw Poland
Lisbon Portugal
Porto Portugal
Sintra Portugal
Cluj-Napoca Romania
Moscow Russia
St. Petersburg Russia
Edinburgh Scotland
Glasgow Scotland
Singapore Singapore
Ljubljana Slovenia
Cape Town South Africa
Johannesburg South Africa
Barcelona Spain
Ibiza Spain
Madrid Spain
Menorca Spain
Palma de Mallorca Spain
Seville Spain
Stockholm Sweden
Ascona Switzerland
Bern Switzerland
Zürich Switzerland
Tahiti* Tahiti
Bangkok Thailand
Chiang Mai Thailand
Koh Samui* Thailand
Istanbul Turkey
Izmir Turkey
Dubai United Arab Emirates
London United Kingdom
Anchorage United States, Alaska
Scottsdale United States, Arizona
Anaheim United States, California
Los Angeles United States, California
Napa United States, California
Palm Desert United States, California
Palm Springs United States, California
San Diego United States, California
San Francisco United States, California
Sonoma United States, California
Denver United States, Colorado
Ft. Lauderdale United States, Florida
Miami United States, Florida
Orlando United States, Florida
Palm Beach United States, Florida
Tampa United States, Florida
Atlanta United States, Georgia
Honolulu* United States, Hawaii
Kauai* United States, Hawaii
Kona* United States, Hawaii
Maui* United States, Hawaii
Chicago United States, Illinois
New Orleans  United States, Louisiana
Boston United States, Massachusetts
Cape Cod United States, Massachusetts
Martha’s Vineyard United States, Massachusetts
Nantucket United States, Massachusetts
Lake Tahoe United States, Nevada
Las Vegas United States, Nevada
New York City United States, New York
Wilmington United States, North Carolina
Portland United States, Oregon
Philadelphia United States, Pennsylvania
Charleston United States, South Carolina
Nashville United States, Tennessee
Austin United States, Texas
Dallas United States, Texas
Houston United States, Texas
Seattle United States, Washington
Washington D.C. United States, Washington D.C.
Milwaukee United States, Wisconsin
Saigon Vietnam


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