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The Forecast is Summersalt’s global content hub for all things travel, packing, style, and discovery, packed with informative and inspirational pieces for (and featuring!) women who are going places.

How to Plan a Professional Photoshoot on Your Next Vacation

Gabrielle Kirlew

Meet Nicole Smith, the founder of Flytographer a genius solution to your vacation photo woes. The Canadian-based company connects visitors to local freelance photographers, who take beautiful candid and portrait photos of travelers on vacation. Since 2013,  Flytographer has facilitated over 25,000 photo shoots across six continents for everyone from millennials to grandparents. Read on to learn more about Nicole’s entrepreneurial journey and her best travel tips!

What inspired you to launch Flytographer?

A trip to Paris with my best friend! We were having an amazing weekend strolling the streets of Paris and both  wanted a photo that reflected what we saw and how we were feeling so we could remember it forever. Between “floating head selfies” and “seven-chin, blur shots taken by strangers” it was difficult to capture the type of picture we wanted. A local friend of hers kindly offered to take a few shots from my iPhone (wide-angle, from a distance with more of Paris in the backdrop). They were the most cherished souvenirs from that trip, and I wondered how to replicate that my future trips. I flew home, gestated on the idea for nine months and finally built up the courage to take the first step towards building out the concept.

What do you find most rewarding?

The incredible global community we’ve built. It’s a tight-knit group of over 500 talented, kind, funny, inclusive, creative local photographers who are fabulous humans and have the opportunity to earn more money doing the work that they love.

What are you most proud of?

We’ve captured over 2 million memories for travelers around the world. Wall-worthy photos that allow people to relive their best adventures every day, and hopefully be treasured for generations.

What was the best AND the worst business decision you ever made? 

Worst: Bad hiring decisions and not hiring for values early enough. 

Best: Making the decision to leave my corporate job to build Flytographer. It was terrifying as a 40 year old single mom, but I trusted my instincts and now I can’t imagine if I’d let fear win and never started!

Let’s talk about “going places.” What’s on the horizon for you?

We are hosting our 5th annual global Flytographer Meetup in Santorini this September. Our photographers fly in from all over the globe for a week of workshops, photo walks, community building, big family dinners, and lots of wine and dancing! We will also take over a local art gallery and showcase their travel photos for the week. It’s a tight, supportive and incredibly talented group of global creatives, so I can’t wait to hug everyone and spend the week connecting, learning, and making memories.

We are also expanding into event photography this fall, so I’m looking forward to testing demand for a new vertical.

Tell us about the last adventure you took:

I took my 14-year-old son on a business trip to Japan over spring break. It was the first time for both of us, and we had so much fun navigating everything from subways, to shrines to vending machine ramen together. We met all of our local photographers (some of whom have worked for Flytographer for five years). 

Although we loved Tokyo and Kyoto, our favorite part was exploring the mountains of the Kiso Valley with our local Flytographer, Masa and his wife Asami. 

It’s an old post town that sits between Tokyo and Kyoto, where mountains and forests rest against historic villages. There are no crowds, and you get to see authentic Japanese culture at a slower pace, breathing in the smells of nature. There’s actually a beautiful two-hour hiking trail that connects two historical villages that reminds me of the lush topography we enjoy on Vancouver Island. We both fell in love with this “off the beaten path” corner of Japan. I think you are going to hear a lot more about this magical place as the world starts to discover it.

Tokyo - Image Courtesy of Flytographer

What is a destination you’ve been to that you’re always telling people, “You have to go there!” 

Tofino, Canada. The best little surf town on the west coast of Canada. It’s a breathtaking drive through old growth forests to get there, the burgeoning foodie scene is fantastic and the sunsets are literally out of this world.

What do you never travel without?

My Away carry-on, Air pods so I can listen to podcasts, a notebook so I can write down random thoughts. Some of my best ideas come to me on long plane rides as it’s a rare opportunity when I’m alone!

Got any great advice for solo travelers?

Eat dinner at the bar! It’s a great way to connect with other solo travelers.

Fill in the blank. I fell in love with traveling when:

When I spent four months backpacking around south east Asia in my early twenties.

What’s your favorite Summersalt travel piece?

The Sidestroke and The Everywhere Dress.

Got any go-to podcasts, albums, or books for passing time on a plane?

Podcast: How I Built This by NPR 

Books: “The Power of One” by Bruce Courtney or “Traction” by Gino Wickman

Share your most valuable travel hack:

Book a private tour guide for a couple hours (or book a Flytographer!) at the very beginning of your trip. They can help you get your bearings in a new city, validate your itinerary for the rest of your trip, and suggest great local spots that you might not discover on your own.