How to Get the Most Out of a Photo Walk

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Ludmila Borosova
Ludmila Borosova

If you’re a photographer living in a popular tourist area and you’re looking for a stable income, then you might consider setting up a vacation photography package or a photo walk. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s just a few clicks away. I do photo walks in Prague, Czech Republic, and I’ll teach you what you need to know!

Or, if you’re interested in buying a photo walk while on vacation, then read on! You will find this guide very valuable.

Today, we’ll cover the following:

  • What is vacation photography?
  • Why are photo walks a perfect opportunity for better pictures?
  • What are the pros and cons of creating a photo walk business?
  • How to manage your photo walk experience in the best way possible.
  • How to keep it profitable!
Recommended Reading: Want to expand your shooting skills and master photography? Grab our set of 65 beautifully designed and printable Action Cards that will give you over 200 photography assignments to help you take your photography to the next level. Check it out here.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

So, What Is a Photo Walk Exactly?

Imagine yourself hopping on a plane to your dream destination. What’s the scariest part? Landing in an unknown country? Getting lost in the city center? For many, it’s the thought of not getting their perfect vacation photos taken.

Jokes aside, vacation photography has become incredibly popular over the last few years.

Many clients are reaching out to photographers, inquiring about photos of their vacation. Single travelers, couples, and even families do it more often than you might think.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Definition: Vacation photography is when you have a package delivering clients a private photoshoot with all the highlights from a specific city in the background. It’s typically more expensive compared to a straight photo walk.

Definition: A photo walk is a part of vacation photography, and a very similar experience, but is usually a group tour targeted toward travelers on a budget who love meeting new people. Having full capacity on a photo walk enables the photographer to earn even more money than with a private vacation photography shoot.

The important question is, does your city have enough tourists?

Key Lesson: With targeted advertising, you can reach tourist customers. However, you can also target amateur photographers who would like a guided tour of your city, so that they can hit all the great photo spots in a short period of time.

Where Can You Find Photo Walks?

  • Airbnb Experiences – easy to get customers
  • Vacation photography platforms – e.g. SmilePleez, which is easy to get higher-paying customers
  • Personal websites – harder to find

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

How Did I Create My Own Photo Walk?

Let me walk you through my thinking process! I was playing with the idea of starting something similar for such a long time.

Living in Prague, I see photographers and tourists in the city center all the time! When I was traveling abroad alone by myself, it clicked. I needed to figure out a way to start shooting photo walks myself.

I searched for photo walks online, booked the best-rated photographer that I could find, and fell in love with the photos we created AND the evening!

I immediately started planning out my own Prague photo walk in my head.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Before You Start

Let me tell you, there are multiple things you will love and hate about this work. Before you start, you should be aware of them and make your choice!

Pros

a) Meeting new people every day – People who sign up for these walks are super fun! Whether they are individuals, friends, or couples, I never feel like I’m working because it is so exciting to have clients from all around the world every day!

b) Easier than other photoshoots – When you walk in the same spots, you end up knowing all the best photo points and don’t have to worry at all! Waking up is never stressful – only when it rains.

Cons

a) Repetitive and not as challenging – Knowing all the photo spots comes with a disadvantage, though. It doesn’t push your creativity, and you are mostly just shooting the same picture with a different person and walking the same path. It’s probably ideal to do this job just a few times per week, or for a shorter period of time each day.

b) Waking up early – Maybe it isn’t a problem in your city, but if I want to catch the center of Prague with nice sunlight and (almost) no people, I have to wake up very early! Consider if that’s for you.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

How Do You Manage an Experience?

It’s not hard to set up an experience because any provider that you choose (for example, Airbnb) will carefully walk you through all the steps with text and image suggestions!

Before you start setting your advertising page up, make sure that you already have images in your portfolio to attract your clients!

It’s a bit more complicated with running the business itself because these kinds of platforms are usually in different tax systems!

Before you start setting your advertising page up, make sure that you already have images in your portfolio to attract your clients!

It depends on the specific country, and that’s why you should hire a professional in your area to discuss the legalities.

Moneywise, though, these platforms usually take a percentage from your price (for example, Airbnb takes 20%). You will usually receive the 80% in your bank account the day after the photo shoot is completed, and you are responsible for your own taxes.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Steps to the Perfect Photo Walk Experience

Welcome Message

When a guest books you, don’t forget to send them a message as soon as possible, ideally with all the important reminders such as time and location. They should already know them, but it will help refresh their memory! Don’t forget to encourage them to ask you anything about the city and be ready to respond. With some providers, you can prepare an automated first message. Just make sure it’s always up to date!

Added Value

What I like to include in my welcome message is already some added value that they did not expect. I provide them with a map where all my favorite locations are pinned, as well as a large PDF file with more images from previous photo walks. I also include FAQs and tips on what to wear, and where they might want to go on their own. There is also a short biography about me because I want them to be comfortable meeting me for the first time!

This little unexpected act of added value will make my guests feel more comfortable about being photographed and “lost” in a new city. Don’t forget to include your social media links!

Front Page of my informative PDF. Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Group Chat

On the day before the photo walk (or when I know that the capacity for a photo walk is already full), I create a group chat with all the participants! It’s easier for us to discuss any changes (such as weather) and it’s a perfect way to keep everyone in touch after the photo walk ends.

Recommended Reading: Want to expand your shooting skills and master photography? Grab our set of 65 beautifully designed and printable Action Cards that will give you over 200 photography assignments to help you take your photography to the next level. Check it out here.

Meeting

I’m always on the spot at least 10 minutes before the official meeting time, and I make sure all guests know what I’m wearing so they can easily spot me.

When everyone’s ready to start the walk, I ask them to introduce themselves to the others, as it’s easier when we break the ice in the beginning. The whole experience can take up to three hours, and it would be a pity if everyone spent it quietly. This way, you are leaving with amazing photos and new friends from all over the world!

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

The Photo Walk Experience

It’s essential that you have your route planned out! In the end, the spots are what you are advertising to your clients. That doesn’t mean to avoid experimenting, but stick to your path.

Along the way, encourage your guests to show you a spot they’d like to be photographed in and combine it with your pre-planned views.

The most important thing is to know your sun! You must know the lighting!

My tours start differently depending upon the time of the year. Avoid harsh sunlight. Those who want nice pictures won’t mind waking up early! And I’m sure my free coffee will help them survive the morning.

Drink Included

Free coffee, you said!? Yes! Guests love being taken care of, and in my case, that includes a free drink.

City centers of a big metropolis like Prague tend to be very overwhelming, with overpriced restaurants and tourist traps everywhere.

The most important thing is to know your sun! You must know the lighting!

Your guests will appreciate it if you show them a place that you, as a local, like visiting!

I’m sure that there are many beautiful hidden gems in your city known only to locals. If it’s nearby, don’t be afraid to show it to them!

Free drinks have many advantages. Not only is it a small gesture of appreciation, but if you do it in the beginning, it is also a great time to break the ice!

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Group Photo

Don’t forget to take a group photo of your guests and, if possible, a selfie including you! It’s such a good memory they will cherish forever, and it only takes a few seconds!

Fast Turnaround

Now that the photo walk is over, all of the post-processing begins.

Do you know that moment, when you’ve been sitting in front of your editing program for hours trying to figure out if the contrast looks better with +2 or +4? Of course, you do!

Even though I enjoy editing my portrait photoshoots a lot, this is not the case with photo walks.

Forget that approach! This is not a photoshoot that needs high-end retouching.

It’s a photoshoot for travelers who want nice pictures from various places and ideally to share them online while it’s still relevant! My turnaround time is therefore 48 hours and I provide minimal post-processing.

Always Overdeliver

Since I only do my editing from photo walks in Lightroom, it’s easy to edit more photos at once and to adjust some of the settings.

It’s not as hard for you to deliver a bit more than you promised, so why not do it?

Your guests will be so happy to get something extra and you will earn that nice review! Make sure you include a photo from each location.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Reviews

It’s important to maintain a good rating because it allows you to ask for a higher price in the future, and it builds trust with potential clients.

I think it goes without saying, but if your guests want anything, try delivering it with a smile!

It’s important to maintain a good rating because it allows you to ask for a higher price in the future, and it builds trust with potential clients.

Screenshot by Ľudmila Borošová

You are there to make their vacation memorable, show them hidden spots, and help them to experience the city from a local point of view.

If you feel like you’ve clicked and had a great time, don’t forget to kindly ask for an honest review when sending pictures. Sometimes, they just need a reminder, and in the end, it’s the greatest reward.

If you go above and beyond for your guests, they will do the same with the review.

Finances

Photo walks are usually full of competition. That’s why you need to play with your price in the right way.

You shouldn’t think about this as your regular photoshoot!

For example, my private vacation photography photoshoot would be priced at 3000 CZK/$127 USD, and that’s also my income before taxes. If you’re just starting and have no reviews, you should consider starting with a lower price.

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

What about my pricing when it comes to group photo walks? I just started my photo walk tours very recently, and I don’t have as many reviews as some of the other photographers. I can only compete with the quality of my portfolio and pricing. Therefore, this is the price that works best for me:

My fully booked session consists of five people, and it’s not a problem to be fully booked in spring, summer, or the fall. Therefore, I can earn 3900 CZK/$165.50 USD before tax per day. It might not look like much, but the prices of photo walks vary widely from country to country!

Use this table as a starting point and do your own research about average wages and prices in your area or the area you are traveling to.

Recommended Reading: Want to expand your shooting skills and master photography? Grab our set of 65 beautifully designed and printable Action Cards that will give you over 200 photography assignments to help you take your photography to the next level. Check it out here.

Are You Ready?

Photo walks are not an overnight success, but you can start making money pretty quickly! If marketing is your biggest issue with your business, you finally have a platform (Airbnb Experiences) to easily present yourself on while earning valuable reviews and experience.

Try it out for yourself and see where it gets you!

I started booking my clients just days after I registered, and the growth was visible in around 2-3 months!

Photograph by Ľudmila Borošová

Self-Check Quiz:

  1. What is the difference between vacation photography and
    photo walks?
  2. What are the pros and cons of photo walks?
  3. Do you need to pay special taxes if you want to get inquiries from an online platform?
  4. Name three ways you can add value to your photo walk.
  5. Is it important to do high-end retouching?
  6. Why is inviting your guests for a drink a great idea?
  7. Is it polite to ask for a review?
  8. How can you make a photo walk profitable while charging
    low prices?

Non-Shooting Assignment:

  • Research the market. Approximately how many tourists visit your city each year?
  • Research the market. Is there anyone doing photo walks in your area already?
  • Plan a route to all the important sights of your city, lasting no more than one hour of walking.
  • Ask your friend to model for you while you do your test shoot.
  • Find out about legal requirements in your country.

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