I recently had occasion to put my own advice into practice (see my blog of Feb. 13, 2013) on a "photo trip" to San Diego. It has been many years since my last visit and San Diego has changed...and grown. It is now the eighth largest city in the U.S. I had planned an ambitious list of places to photograph in five days. This trip had to be tightly choreographed if I hoped to fulfill my agenda. I had to be ready to hit the ground running which meant preparation was key to success.
I began by perusing a map of the area to get my bearings. I consulted apps like Yelp and Trip Advisor to get a sense of interesting places; I invested in a photography book dedicated to San Diego. Having developed a tentative list of subjects I then used Google to find more in depth information. From this basic research I developed a rough photo plan including types of shots I might expect to encounter, allocated expected time at each venue, and made a list of gear I would likely need. Now this might seem like total overkill to most, but when one expects to accomplish much in a short time span organization is critical. Without it one will be "behind the eight ball" from the outset.
During the course of my research I came across an interesting resource I had never considered, a certified tour guide whose tours were "focused" on photography. This resource was Julie Kremen who operates San Diego Photography Tours. Julie runs several different tours in the San Diego area from which one can choose depending on interest or, as I learned, Julie will put together a custom tour. Julie was booked during the normal weekdays I planned to be in San Diego but she offered to do a "one on one" custom tour on a Sunday. I jumped at her offer. We wound up doing a 4+ "golden" hour shoot in the late afternoon/early evening in the Gaslamp Quarter, harbor area, and Balboa Park. I used this as the centerpiece of my plan and built around it. Julie proved to be a gem; bottom line my time spent on this tour was extremely productive. Her photography background together with the brief up front information I gave her regarding my skill level was all she needed to develop an itinerary to make every minute count. She took me where I wanted to go and gave me freedom to photograph at will without the worry of having to keep up with a group. She is also a skilled photographer and capable of ensuring that one will come away with superior and unique photos. To anyone planning to photograph in San Diego I heartily recommend her services regardless of skill level. It was one of the rare occasions I've photographed in tandem with another photographer and it was truly an enjoyable experience.
In the end I not only completed my San Diego agenda but found time to photograph at San Luis Rey de Francia and San Juan Capistrano Missions, both easy drives from San Diego not to mention photographic gems. This would have been an enjoyable trip without my research, but I most certainly would not have accomplished the ambitious agenda I designed for this venture.
A few of my results are included on this site. Check 'em out.