Move over, cruise ship photographers. A new type of enterprising shutterbug is on the tourist trail.
portrait photographers are independent entrepreneurs who approach tourists at
public attractions and offer to snap group portraits. In a digital twist, tourists
receive a card with a code number on it, and later, they can view the images
online and decide if any of the prints are worth purchasing. The use of a code
number to access the images protects a traveller's privacy, shielding the photos
from the public eye.
of vacation portraits has been floating around for a while, but it accelerated
last September with the founding of the site Candidtag,
the first major platform to promote the genre.
September, more than 100 photographers from 35 states have signed up with the
site, covering many US-only cities, such as Austin, Boston, New York City, San
Francisco, Minneapolis and Nashville. The site is run by Matt Wolin, a 28-year
old Chicagoan, who is a software engineer by day and an aspiring professional
photographer at night.
Jackie Dietzen encountered the service last September, when they were visiting
Chicago's Grant Park with their two young children. The Denziens later purchased
an image from Wolin’s site.
have a camera on my phone,” Jimmy said. “But this was a professionally-shot
image, which looks a hundred times better than if we handed our cell phone to
doesn't vet the portfolios of its photographers -- essentially, anyone with a
camera can sign up – so photo quality can vary. There is always the chance that
when travellers have their photos taken, the images they see online might not be
good enough to order. The printing and shipping, however, is fulfilled by Adorama,
a New York City lab that has gotten high ratings from consumers.
tourists, common sense precautions apply in dealing with a solicitation from a
stranger, regardless of whether he or she is holding a fancy camera. Travellers
should never hand over money or contact information in person, and they should
also watch out for photography being a ruse to distract them while being pick-pocketed.
there is no way for a traveller to hire someone’s services through the site.
Photographers and travellers have to stumble upon each other in a bit of
Sean O'Neill is the tech travel columnist for BBC Travel