Photo Fun with Flytographer in London

Last summer, we traveled to London to celebrate Dave’s mom’s birthday. She had never visited before, and as it was always on her bucket list, we thought a trip London was a perfect way to celebrate.

We spent a week dashing all over London, trying our best to see as many sites as possible. Since we were always on the go, our photos were quick snapshots. I wanted nicer photos that would be frame-worthy to remember our trip, so I turned to Flytographer.

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Flytographer is a vacation photography service with photographers that can be booked in 180 cities around the world. You schedule your shoot in advance, selecting a photographer in the city you are visiting, the length of your session, and a place to meet. The Flytographer shoot concierge works with you to determine what style of photos you like and what memories you hope to capture. Shoots packages begin at $250 for a half hour and 15 digital images. You can book longer sessions or work with Flytographer for a customized package.

Flytographer’s shoot concierge coordinates all the details in advance and sends a confirmation email with your photographer’s name and contact information and your set meeting place before the shoot. You should arrive at the appointed meeting place ten minutes before the session to meet and discuss your session. Then, the fun begins!

This was my fourth time for a Flytographer session. Dave and I first tried them in Buenos Aires, I tried them solo in Budapest, and then in April, I had another solo shoot in London with Dan. Since I enjoyed working with Dan, I requested him again for our session (you can see photos from the photographers available in each city online to decide which one might be the best match for your shoot).

The Flytographer photographer takes a mix of candid and posed shots, and provides some direction along the way. We met Dan across the street from Big Ben, and walked along the bridge for some candid shots.

It is a bit awkward at first, as you try to be natural yet you know that someone is taking your picture. But, as the time passed, we became more comfortable with the camera, and with Dan’s direction of us. We also chatted with Dan about the places we had visited and the ones we hoped to see soon, and he provided some tips and suggestions of what we should do. By the end of the session, you have a new friend that shares their local insights with you.

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What I love about Flytographer is that when you return from your trip, you receive an email with a link to the professional photos from your session ready to download (the number of photos depends on the package you book). I am always taking pictures when I travel, but usually it is of the place I am visiting, and I forget to include myself. Or, I will ask a fellow tourist to snap a photo. The pictures are nice, but nothing special. The Flytographer photos, since they are taken by a proper photographer, are so much more beautiful than the pictures we took ourselves.

These photos capture both London and us in the best way – vibrant and not static. We were a bit reserved early in our session with the posed photo in front of Big Ben, and then as we grew more comfortable, we had fun popping out of the traditional red telephone booths. We laughed a lot; it was a great release from a day of sightseeing.

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During our session, there were some dark clouds threatening to shower us with rain that provided a nice backdrop for our photos of the London Eye.

As we neared the end of our shoot, we all walked along the Thames while Dan continued ahead of us, turning around to capture some more candid photos. I am not sure what Dave is saying in these images, but I love the expressions on all of our faces.

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The last photo from our session was not planned. We were chatting about to part ways and I saw this Lamborghini coming down the street. Dave loves cars, so Dan quickly took this picture of Dave and the car in the background.

Flytographer is a wonderful way to capture your vacation. If you have a special event – a birthday, anniversary, girls weekend away, or a proposal, Flytographer will work with you to create photos to remember forever. Flytographer gift cards are also available to purchase as a gift to be used at a later date. I can not recommend this service highly enough! If you would like to purchase a session, use this link to receive a $25 credit. Use #FlyFan when you book to receive the credit.

Dan was so good even his selfie of all of us is better than any selfie I’ve taken!

Flytographer Dan selfie

 

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Travel Treasures: Gin and Whisky from Fortnum and Mason in London

During our trip to London this summer, we visited Fortnum & Mason, the classic English department store with warrants from Her Majesty the Queen and His Majesty the Prince of Wales. Fortnum and Mason is popular for their afternoon tea, although we did not take tea there, I wanted to show Dave’s mom the store, especially the main floor with a seemingly endless selection of teas, biscuits and candy.

We explored the main floor, then ventured upstairs to the makeup, perfumes and accessories. Perfumes were on display in an upside-down chandelier, which I thought was quite creative.

Perfume display at Fortnum and Mason

Perfume display at Fortnum and Mason

And the hats, or fasteners, were beautiful works of art.

TT Fortnums hats

I particularly liked the blue one with gold feathers.

TT Fortnum hats 2 editBrowsing the handbags, I saw these beautiful purses by Launer and thought they looked familiar. It turns out Queen Elizabeth is a fan!

Launer handbags. I wish I took a picture of the two-tone styles - they were my favorite!

Launer handbags. I wish I took a picture of the two-tone styles – they were my favorite!

Eventually, I wandered down to the food hall in the basement, and asked about gin, specifically gin that I would not be able to find in the United States. Immediately, the sales clerk suggested Short Cross Gin from Northern Ireland. I had already purchased some Short Cross when I was in Ireland earlier this year, so I asked for additional suggestions (Short Cross is quite good, and I do recommend it!).

TT Fortnum Gin 3The sales clerk offered me a taste of some of the gins on offer, and another shopper joined me in sampling the gin. We were tasting different gins and comparing what we thought of each – it was nice to try the gins before purchasing any and to see the subtle differences in each brand. I decided to purchase Hammer & Son Old English Gin – I liked the look of the bottle as it was packaged differently than the other gins. I think it might be available in the United States, but I liked it so why not purchase some when it was right in front of me?

As you can see, there is quite a selection of gin to choose – going to our local liquor stores here do not offer this selection! I saw Plymouth Gin on the bottom shelf here – I purchased some of the Plymouth Sloe Gin when I was at the Plymouth BlackFriars Distillery in April (read about my visit here).

Some of the gin at Fortnum and Mason

Some of the gin at Fortnum and Mason (the Plymouth Gin and Plymouth Sloe Gin are on the bottom shelf on the left and the Hammer & Son Old English Gin is also on the bottom, fourth from the left).

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Even more gin!

While enjoying the gin samples, the sales clerk asked if we liked whisky – of course we do – and would we like to sample some? We tried some straight, and then he added just a drop or two of water to our cups, which provided a different and deeper taste. We were having quite a lot of fun – soon another couple joined us. The Highgrove Organic Single Malt Whisky was to my liking, and I purchased a bottle.

As the Fortnum’s website describes it:

This single malt whisky was selected and bottled exclusively for Highgrove. The whisky is distilled from Scottish organic malted barley, grown in Inverness-shire and matured in a single, numbered, first-use Bourbon cask.

It was closing time at the store, so our tasting came to an end, the clerk wrapped my bottles in Fortnum and Mason tissue and sent us on our way.

These bottles made it back to Los Angeles, tightly packed and cushioned in my checked luggage. I have yet to open them but when I do, I will remember the lovely tasting experience at Fortnum and Mason!

Travel treasures gin and whisky

A Colorful FriFotos

Here are some of my photos from last Friday’s #FriFotos theme: colorful. This week’s theme is roads. Start posting your road photos on Friday, June 12, 2015!

My first trip to Ireland was in March, and I was there for St. Patrick’s Day. Many of the buildings around Dublin were lit in green for the holiday as part of Tourism Ireland‘s campaign to #GoGreen4PatricksDay.

Dublin went #GoGreen4PatricksDay

Dublin went #GoGreen4PatricksDay

My friend Claire first told me about Liberty London when I was planning my first trip to London about fifteen years ago. After almost yearly trips to London, I had not visited in almost nine years, so when I arrived, one of my first stops was to visit Liberty and see their iconic prints – on scarves, on blouses, dresses, notepads, cards and makeup bags. I will be back in London in July, and I will be sure to visit Liberty again (the store itself is beautiful too).

Scarves at Liberty London.

Scarves at Liberty London.

While in London, I also visited another iconic department store, Harrods. The food halls at Harrods offer just about anything you can imagine, and I enjoy walking around to see the delicious foods and desserts. This marble cake looked particularly pretty.

Marble cake at Harrod's.

Marble cake at Harrod’s.

During my trip to Britain in April (see Liberty and Harrods photos above), the weather was beautiful. I think I only used my umbrella one day during my fourteen day trip. When we arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland, after a long day of driving, I needed to stretch my legs. Luckily, our hotel was near the Scottish Parliament building, and close to Holyrood Park. Even though it was late afternoon, I was determined to climb to Arthur’s Seat. It was windy and chilly, but perfect weather for walking, and the light was spectacular.

Climbing to Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park.

Climbing to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.

My final photo is one my friend Laura took. Over Memorial Day weekend, three of my high school girlfriends and I traveled to New Orleans for a girls weekend. On our final day, we went to Commander’s Palace for their Jazz Brunch. As the jazz trio played for our table, Laura took this picture of me surrounded by musicians, a colorful way to end our weekend of fun!

Jazz Brunch at Commander's Palace.

Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace.

New to #FriFotos? Here’s a quick guide on the rules by Jeffrey Epstein.

#FriFotos was started on 15 October 2010 by Jonathan Epstein (@EpsteinTravels). Jonathan is the President and Owner of Celebrated Experiences, a company focusing on travel to the UK and Ireland. He is passionate about photography, his favorite hobby. Each week Jonathan cohosts #FriFotos with Stephanie Diehl (@TravelDesigned), Charles Yap (@CharlesYap), and Spencer Spellman (@SpencerSpellman). Jeffrey Epstein (@jeffreyinmotion), CEO of HBIM was a key advisor in the creation of #FriFotos and continues to assist in the Forum’s growth and success.