If you can’t take a selfie, are too shy to ask strangers for a favour, or just want some first-rate photographs on your vacation, Brisbane startup Travelshoot has you covered. Providing a unique twist on holiday snaps, the company will pair you up with a local, professional photographer to create a parcel of travel photographs.
The idea emerged when founder Sarah Pearce travelled to New York with her husband in 2012, where they agreed to be test subjects for a friend’s photoshoot. Pearce received ten photographs of the couple along the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, as well as the inspiration for a startup she’d go on to run for four years (and counting).
Since then, Pearce’s team have sought, tested out and secured nearly 100 photographers in 55 cities worldwide. And success has come relatively quickly; Pearce was recently recognised as one of the Top 20 Entrepreneurs Under 40 in Queensland, and earlier this year Travelshoot signed a distribution deal with Flight Centre Travel Group, meaning consultants can sell Travelshoot packages along with other holiday bookings.
While the team has won sponsorship and accolades from publications such as Style Magazine and VEST, Pearce ascribes their first big break to winning the My Shark Tank Australia people’s choice award for best new business concept in early 2015, which almost immediately brought the startup nationwide attention.
“Being totally honest, our launch period caught us off guard in terms of how much interest there was,” Pearce said. “Of course, a nice business problem to address!”
“The morning after the TV episode went live, we woke up to an inbox full of excited customer queries – and it’s been an exciting whirlwind since then.”
So how does the startup work? Once users have their sights set in one of the cities Travelshoot currently operates, which range from Melbourne to Montreal to Manila, they’ll be able to contact the company and propose what kind of experience they are looking for. Travelshoot can then contact the local photographers, provide a portfolio of their work, and book a time and day for the shoot.
From there, photographers will show users around their city for a fun, relaxed shooting day, and can provide sneak peeks of the photos within 48 hours, with the full album provided within a week. Users will be able to download their photos digitally, as well as share them via a provided link on social media.
While the experience is designed to be both flexible and affordable, Pearce understands that Travelshoot, and travelling itself, may not be accessible for everyone.
“I’m also acutely aware of what a privilege it is to travel and ‘have holidays’ when so many are less fortunate – so it’s part of our mission to give back in the process with a donation from every Travelshoot.”
These donations go toward Youngcare, a charity which enables young people with high care needs to live outside of aged care facilities and live with both agency and independence.
The success of Travelshoot could mark yet another of the many global shifts towards ‘the gig economy’ – where workers are contracted from task to task, rather than on long-term contracts. Pearce notes that she was inspired by this movement in the development of the company.
“I’m a big fan of the marketplace movement, so Air BnB and Uber are now a big part of our travel plans. I really love getting to meet locals and the technology we can now all access to improve our travel experiences has really changed the game.”
By connecting travellers with local photographers, not only are tourists able to grab photos in pre-scouted and well-known locations to the photographer, but the photographer is linked in to the passing tourist trade in a way they previously were not.
With the increasing influence of social media on sharing our lives with friends and family, Travelshoot will likely only become more and more appealing to tech-savy travellers. Here’s hoping they continue finding new ways of empowering local photographers, as users continue exploring the world.