Hiring a Vacation Photographer

Vacation Photography: Killarney National Park, Ireland

Capturing our family trip with [K] Photography

My family and I have never gone on an international trip together in our lives, and the last family portrait we had done (besides at my wedding) was an Olan Mills snapshot from the early 90s. Since then, our captures have been the domain of amateur family photographers, including myself, who have snapped photos from special occasions. Don’t get me wrong – I love those candid, casual snaps but I’ve also wanted an amazing family photo shoot to capture our adventures so we’re all in the framable photos (you can read about my constant predicament here).

When this trip to Ireland became a reality, I realized that there were fewer perfect places for a great family photo session. We would all be together on this rare occasion, on our first international trip, in my father’s #1 bucket list destination for his 60th birthday. Absolute perfection. I searched up and down trying to find a photographer that could capture some photos in County Kerry or Dublin and finally came across Nerijus from K Photography, a Lithuanian-born photog based in Killarney. After glimpsing a sample of a  family photo shoot in Killarney National Park, I knew I found our guy. He was an absolute breeze to work with from afar, and we quickly settled on a day and a general idea for the shoot (candid, including shots on horseback and bike riding within the park). Knowing us, I wanted the bulk to be photojournalistic in nature but also wanted to be sure that we’d be able to ‘busy ourselves’ during the shoot so we would, in effect, forget that someone was photographing our interactions.

Ireland Vacation Photography, Killarney National ParkIreland Vacation Photography, Killarney National ParkIreland Vacation Photography, Killarney National Park

The experience was nothing less than our best day in Ireland. Firstly, a huge thanks to Mother Nature for working with us. Weather is the ultimate X factor as far as these outdoor photo shoots are concerned (you may recall that our photo shoot in St. John didn’t have the prettiest weather), and it’s an element that can really be a game changer in the outcome of photo shoots like this. The drizzly forecast and morning rains had us cringing, but by the time we arrived to begin our riding experience, the sun had come out, and it stayed out for the rest of the day to illuminate our backdrop.

Nerijus instantly made us all feel at ease, which is such a critical component to a genuine photo experience. We were fortunate in that we were working with him for an extended period (about 4 – 5 hours) but when your shoot is somewhat brief (30 minutes to an hour), you have to get comfortable fairly quickly. Within 10 minutes of meeting him, we were all relaxed enough to let our personalities shine through.

When I initially began brainstorming what a family photo shoot in Ireland may look like, I tried to envision where the best backdrop would be to capture the essence of the country. Dublin was my initial instinct but when I gave it proper consideration, I realized that a more bustling city may make everyone a bit less comfortable. Capturing those perfect moments is a bit more difficult when you’re surrounded by people on busy streets. For me, Killarney National Park was truly the ultimate destination for a vacation photo shoot in Ireland since we were able to play with many textures and a variety of backdrops within a single space (you can read about our days in Killarney National Park here and here). A number of photos took place during our walk through the park, with others at Ross Castle and at Muckross House. The pièce de résistance was the horseback riding experience which truly ended up producing some spectacular images.

{Keep reading to see more images plus tips from our experience with vacation photography in Ireland!}

Hiring a Vacation Photographer
Ireland Vacation Photography, Killarney National ParkIreland Vacation Photography, Killarney National ParkHiring a Vacation PhotographerIreland Vacation Photography, Killarney National Park

For others considering vacation photography in Ireland, I can’t recommend our locations enough for seriously stunning backdrops. If you have time to make the horseback riding happen, it’s provides an incredibly unique offering. If not, the park itself will set you up with a series of gorgeous and vibrant backdrops to give life to your images and really evoke a genuine sense of place.

We knew we were dealing with great settings but Nerijus’ talent really brought everything together for us. He helped us with choosing the locations, positioning ourselves within certain landscapes, and evoking natural expression for the images so they weren’t all forced smiles. Plus, the quality of the images really do speak for themselves. If you’re looking to create an experience of your own, I hope you find the information below helpful for recreating your own shoot. Please feel free to leave me any questions or comments in the comments section below, too – I’d be happy to share any input or ideas based on our experience!

Tips for Family Vacation Photography in Ireland

Ireland Vacation Photography, Killarney National Park

Photographer: Nerijus from K Photography, based in Killarney, Ireland // Reach him via email here or via telephone at: +353 (0) 857814820.

Locations: Killarney Riding Stables, Killarney National Park (including Ross Castle, Muckross House and Gardens).

What to Wear: See some of my previous tips from our last vacation photography experience! I learned a lot from our first photo shoot and shared those thoughts with my family going into this family shoot. Long sleeves and a neutral palette with complimentary outfits (not matching) was key. In addition, we gave ourselves enough time in the morning to properly prepare (read: hair and makeup) so we could feel pretty going into the shoot.

Ireland Vacation Photography, Killarney National Park

What to Know: Your vacation photographs are about you so communication is key. I shared my thoughts and ideas with Nerijus in advance and we were able to flesh out some thoughts and locations that we thought would capture the spirit of this family trip. I personally prefer a photojournalistic style to lots of posed-looking photos (though we wanted some of those, too!) and that vibed with his approach perfectly. If you’re someone who prefers lots of posed photos or has a list of photos you’re looking to capture, write down your thoughts and share those details so you leave with the photos that you’ve envisioned.

We were also flexible. We had initially planned on renting bikes during the afternoon and ended up scrapping that idea to play with different backdrops and work off of the energy that we were feeling in that moment. Go with a general plan, but also be open to inspiration and guidance from the pro! Some of my favorite pictures were from impromptu stops along our walk in the forest where good lighting and pretty natural elements worked together to create a seriously gorgeous backdrop.

Have you hired a vacation photographer before or would you? If you have, what was your experience like?

Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect, formerly The Traveling Scholar. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. She is a former resident of London and San Francisco and now calls the island of Anguilla home. In addition to The Wanderlust Effect, Shannon is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort and is on the Board of Directors of the Omololu International School in Anguilla.