During a creative call last autumn with AFAR magazine and JPMorgan Chase, travel photographer and Boston-native Nicole Loeb was asked if she could recommend any “local experts” to assist with their travel guide to Boston. Almost on cue, Nicole blurted out: “Yes! Me!” After delivering on the 2-day shoot in Boston, Nicole’s confidence and expertise landed her a second project with the client, this time deep in the Texas Hill Country. Nicole worked with teams from AFAR and Chase to capture a local’s guide to Austin as part of their launch for the new Chase Sapphire Reserve airport lounges. The goal of the images was to showcase hidden cultural and culinary gems that travelers should not miss when visiting the state capital.
The Austin photoshoot took place in January 2023, with about two months of pre-planning beforehand. Nicole collaborated with the client to make suggestions and modifications about the planning locations and subjects for the shoot. But unlike the hometown advantage for her Boston shoot, this would be Nicole’s first visit to Austin.
For Nicole, however, having visited and photographed over 60 countries, this was no bump in the road!
The Austin photoshoot was almost identical to how I photograph my personal projects when I travel. I key in on interesting people, places, and food! I loved being able to photograph a local’s guide to a city I visited for the first time.
I’m a naturally curious and upbeat person and I have no problems asking the people I’m with, “Oh hey – can I photograph this next? This is really cool.” I find that when I show excitement, they also equally get excited to be photographed, or have their space photographed, too.
The selections for the shoot included the Austin Proper Hotel, the Contemporary Museum, (512) Brewery, and portraits of the muralist Rex Hamilton with some of his stunning work.
I scheduled about 60-75 minutes for each of the 6 shoots over two days, which was a little tight, but it worked out well. The vibe of the city was colorful, charismatic, and down-to-earth. All of the people I spoke with in planning the shoots were all so kind.
Nicole maintained a steady line of communication with the client throughout the shoot, sharing images and responding to requests from the creative team.
After I photographed at each location, I would use my phone to send a video of the back of my camera as I scrolled through the shots I got. The feedback that one of the editors gave me was that she loved the variety of work I’m able to capture in a short amount of time.
But even for an experienced travel photographer and with months of preplanning, each new photoshoot and city has its unforeseen turns.
One of the locations that I was tasked to photograph wouldn’t allow me inside because they were very busy. This was a bummer because from my research, the space looked fascinating. I gained permission to photograph the exterior of the building, but it was a challenge to make it look as colorful and eclectic as it was. Since it was January, the trees were bare and it was overcast. And I was slightly nervous that the neighbors thought I was trespassing!
In the 36 hour shoot, there were six locations and not in the same part of the city. In the future, I’d work to schedule clients that were in the same geographic region to minimize on driving from north to south, and then traveling back north again.
Amidst all the hustle and bustle, longtime foodie Nicole and her assistant worked up an appetite and could not in good faith resist a quick celebratory break to savor a Texas-sized plate of BBQ!
When asked about her favorite aspect of the project, Nicole responded,
I loved being able to show off people in spaces where they were happiest to be in. Photographing people and making them comfortable in front of the camera is something I love doing.
See more of Nicole’s work on her website.
Photo assistant: Jason Loeb.
Read more about Nicole on our Published Blog.
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