Warning: These Photos Will Give You Major Vacation Fever

You may be familiar with Gray Malin's photography. A bird's-eye view. Tropical. Shot in exotic locales from Palm Springs to Bhutan. Touches of retro colors. It's a style that's both modern and iconic — marked by elements of whimsy (giant word balloons) and adventure (think: Beach ball floating in Antartica) that don't take themselves too seriously.

This year, he's teamed up with Le Méridien of Starwood Hotels & Resorts to go bigger and more fantastical with a photo series staged at the different properties around the world, with the final images living everywhere from hotel lobbies to the room key cards. But, the snaps themselves are just a part of it; the collaboration also encourages guests (and the art lovers who buy the prints) to see the journey and story creation behind them — because, 1,000 inner tubes don't just inflate themselves.

I was very lucky to travel to Barcelona (where the first set of images were shot) with Malin to see firsthand how he finds inspiration in the cities and hotels where he shoots. And, not only is he the most refreshingly down-to-earth human ever, he's also genuinely interested in sharing his process and incredible experiences. Ahead, we've got outtakes from his shoot at the gorgeous Le Méridien Ra Beach Hotel & Spa, his thoughts about the future of photography, and his tips for Instagramming like a pro. You can continue to follow his journey at #followgray.

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