I’m used to being behind the camera. I never travel without it, and even my go-to purse at home is a camera bag. That means lots of photo outings and full memory cards, but few photos of me from solo trips. I was well aware of this when planning my birthday in Paris.
Photos make the best souvenirs and I didn’t want to end up with phone selfies of questionable quality. Flytographer turned out to be just the solution I needed.
This online service connects you with a local photographer for a fun vacation shoot. You simply take a walk together, then receive professional pictures within a few days. Currently the company has crews in over 130 cities, and Paris is one of their main destinations.
I had followed and admired Flytographer’s work online for quite some time. We later interacted on Twitter and made plans to collaborate.
After a few emails with Jen, the shoot concierge, my photo outing was arranged. She had booked Gonçalo, a Paris-based fashion photographer, and asked me to fill out a brief online questionnaire. It was to give them an idea of what I was looking for in terms of location and overall mood.
Once Jen heard where I was staying – the Marais district – she told me about Flytographer’s beginnings. The idea was born in the same neighborhood, when the now-founder Nicole had a reunion with her best friend. Another friend offered to follow them around with a camera, and it was the ‘aha’ moment that triggered the company.
A few days before the shoot, Jen sent me and Gonçalo an email, worried that the weather in Paris might be a problem. We discussed plan B (using an umbrella as a prop) and plan C (rescheduling). Luckily, the rain held off, but I decided to bring a hat in case it drizzled.
Gonçalo made me comfortable right away. We met in the Marais to go over details: the locations we had in mind, what I’d be doing in front of the camera, and how much direction I could expect.
After a few minutes by my apartment on Place Sainte-Catherine, we moved on to the nearby Rue Saint-Antoine and Saint-Paul metro station, then finished off by the Seine on Pont Marie. To my surprise, Gonçalo suggested that I run across the street.
I once danced on a photo outing in Krakow, so I had no problem doing something ‘extreme’ in Paris. Running in heels on a cobbled street while watching for oncoming traffic? Count me in! We made sure I was safe though, and it ended up being my favorite part of the outing.
The whole experience was a treat. Not only was Gonçalo professional and knowledgeable, he took time getting the shots right. He even adjusted my hair when the wind made a mess of it. And throughout the shoot, we got to talk about photography and expat life in Paris (Gonçalo is originally from Portugal).
When we said good-bye, I felt as if I’d gone on a photo outing with a friend.
I still like to be behind the camera, but being in front of it was very enjoyable. In the questionnaire I sent to Flytographer, I said that I wanted to “capture the joy of being back in one of my favorite cities.” (That’s an understatement – I’ve been obsessed with Paris for almost a decade!)
Every time I view the album, I’m reminded of not just the birthday weekend, but many terrific moments in the Marais – the neighborhood I called home for two weeks. How’s that for a souvenir?
If you book:
- Flytographer offers 30, 60, and 90-minute vacation packages, starting at $250 (as of April 2015)
- Group and proposal photo shoots are also available
- Booking at least a week in advance is recommended
I was Flytographer’s guest on the shoot. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are mine.