Beyond Selfies: Using Photography to Elevate your Tours

Top tips to capture memorable moments for your guests and high quality visual content to promote your tours from Photowalk Nashville’s Christy Hunter

Reading Time: 5 minutes 50 seconds

Picture this: you’ve traveled halfway across the world to see sites you’ve only ever dreamed of seeing. And now you’re finally there, and you want to capture the moment. But… so does everyone else. So, you stumble around with your selfie stick or shyly attempt to ask a stranger to capture your photo. Easier said than done, right? Oops, someone’s finger was over the lens, and your eyes were closed. There goes that. 

In the age of selfie sticks, photography — or the art of capturing memorable moments — has become a secret weapon too many operators aren’t taking advantage of. 

Unfortunately, most operators and guides don’t view photography as part of their job description. And this is a mistake in today’s visually driven world, because one of the greatest gifts you can give your guests is capturing their photos FOR them, as Christy Hunter of Photowalk Nashville has come to find. 

Not only is capturing photos a serious value-add for guests, Hunter explains, but it also helps you populate your library of imagery for your own social media and website. Imagine having high-quality images of guests having a blast all over your Instagram feed?

At Arival 360 | Orlando, Hunter will show us how to make the most of photography on tour. And not only from the stage: she will be leading an off-site excursion to demonstrate! In the meantime, here are some of Hunter’s top tips that can be put into practice on any tour.

Four tips to elevate your tours with photography

1. Build photo moments into your script and itinerary

One of the biggest mistakes Hunter sees tour guides making is taking photos and videos where there’s nothing really happening, because they’re so in the weeds of giving the tour that they forget to capture the moments that matter. 

Her best tip: build moments into your script and journey where you capture photos for your guests. “This is what we do at this spot at this time,” Hunter shares an example. “We have everybody cheers their glass or we have everybody we get to this mountaintop on the Amalfi Coast hiking tour, and this is where we take the shot.”

2. Ask your guests to tag you on social

Creating these photo-opp moments also has another massive benefit: viral word-of-mouth potential. When you capture photos of your guests and then send them immediately after the tour, they share to their social media. 

If sending photos to guests right after a tour seems like too much to handle, there are platforms dedicated to this: 

  • Fotaflo has developed software to automate the process of uploading and sharing photos with guests. 
  • PicThrive offers a similar software for operators who want to increase ancillary revenue by selling guests photos from their tour or activity. More on that here.

Make sure to ask them to tag you, so that you get that extra exposure and you can re-share to your feed or stories. “When I was in Europe, I can’t think of one tour guide that did that with us.” Hunter shares, which means there’s a huge opportunity here. 

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3. Get photo-spiration from your guests

When you take the burden of capturing photos off your guests, you give them permission to relax, have fun, and not worry about snapping the perfect selfie. And while of course phones have their usefulness, on tours they can often create a barrier to connection. The more you can encourage people to put their phones away, the more you are immersing them into the moment with you. 

When asked where she gets her most creative ideas for reels and photography, Hunter tells us it comes down to storytelling. “It’s about focusing on your guests and telling some of their stories. Some of the best ones that have served us well are the ones where it was just a little snippet of a story: this girl missed her prom because she came to Nashville and we did her photo shoot, little things like that.”  

4. Schedule photo shoots for your team

One brilliant strategy you can steal from Hunter and her team is scheduling one day in your month to do a content planning shoot. This is when you and your team can go out and have fun around your destination, always with the goal in mind of capturing something fun. When Hunter and her partner did this, they captured their most viral video yet. 

“I was joking around and just being a goofball and was talking about the cranes, like, ‘Look! Our state bird the crane!’ And then it zooms into showing the cranes in Nashville,” but those kinds of moments that are organic, Hunter shares, are often the most relatable and exciting for people. And they only come about by being out in the wild, enjoying yourself, and being open to possibility. “We’re going to have fun. Who knows what’s going to happen? I mean, we have had some crazy things happen by doing that.” 

Photowalk Nashville’s crane video captured an organic moment that went viral

This one day a month to capture content is often so much more than just snapping photos, Hunter explains. It forces you to get out of your day-to-day routine and see things through the eyes of your guests. It can also lead to some incredible chance encounters and serendipitous meetings. If you’re stuck in your business, not engaging with your destination, you’re not opening yourself up to growth. 

“It’s led to meeting the valet at the Thompson Hotel, these guys who became our friends and potential partners. If you’re a food tour, interview one of your favorite hosts or one of the chefs at the restaurant, it establishes you as the authority in that area. But then also you’re featuring the people that also help you make your tour what it is,” Hunter says. 

Join a photography excursion at Arival 360 | Orlando!

Join us at Arival 360 | Orlando this October to learn more about how to elevate your content creation game and capture the essence of your experience in captivating ways. In addition to presenting in Orlando, Christy Hunter will be leading a special off-site photography excursion.

Photowalk Excursion: Set against Insta-worthy locations, you’ll learn invaluable techniques to capture quality content that truly reflects your brand’s voice and leading to User Generated Content that your customers will be proud to share.  This session will equip you with practical tips and tools to showcase your experience’s uniqueness, spontaneity, and fun through captivating visuals. Discover posing techniques, group photo strategies, and expert advice for taking compelling selfies that engage and entice potential participants to join your tours.

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Header photo: Photowalk Nashville / Christy Hunter

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