Planning for a Day Trip

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As you are all aware, I recently completed a day-long trip through Philadelphia.  Wandering about looking for shots, I had a lot of time to think to myself (one of the benefits of such a trip), and I developed a lot of criticism for how I planned my trip.  I thought it would be prudent of me to pass along what I learned, and of course my methods for how I will plan my next day trip.  Here’s a short list of things that should be considered when you’re planning your next day trip.

  • Location Scouting – If you are not familiar with the location in which you are headed, you should do your homework.  Browse the web or ask friends for their thoughts in order to find potential shooting spots.  You should at least have an idea of what you’re getting into.  Google Maps is useful to get the lay of the land (especially street view, if it’s available where you’re headed).  If you want to see what other people are shooting, to a geotag or keyword search at Flickr.
  • Develop a Gameplan – Try to develop some sort of framework or plan of action as to how you’re going to go about your day.  In the case of my Philly trip, I had a walking path mapped out.  Don’t expect to follow it entirely – I certainly wandered off-course several times – you’re an artist and you shouldn’t be restricted.  But the worst thing that can happen is you show up at your destination, and you don’t know where to go.
  • Plan Your Meals – Decide ahead of time where you intend to eat if you aren’t packing a lunch.  But have a couple of fall-back options.  Meals are schedule critical, so you need a couple of options in case you are ahead of schedule or behind.  Also, don’t forget to bring some snacks.  You’ll be doing a lot, and if you start to get the jitters, eat a piece of fruit or a healthy snack.
  • Tailor Your Daybag – Each style will require a different set of equipment.  You’ll need to tailor your day bag for your trip.  Will you be shooting a lot indoors?  There are certain lenses you’ll want to bring, and possibly a tripod if you can spare the room.  One of the biggest mistakes I made on my last trip was to leave my tripod at home.  I knew I’d be hand-holding most of the day, but I had intended to shoot after dark.  Can’t do that without my tripod.  Lesson learned.
  • Notify Your Family – Since you will be wandering about on your own, you should always let someone know where you’re going – especially if you’re out of cell-phone reach.  If you can, it’s also best to check in a few times throughout the day to let your loved ones know you are doing okay.  You’ll alleviate their concerns and your return home will be much less stressful.
  • Plan for the Unexpected – As I mentioned above, you’re going to wander off-course.  So carry a map and make sure of alternate routes.  Plan for bad weather even if the weather man assures a nice day.  But most of all, make sure that you have an alternative way to get home.  On my trip to the city, I decided to take public transportation so that if I fell behind, I could leave from anywhere I wanted – I didn’t have a specific point I had to return to.
  • Bring a Book – Sometimes, as photographers, we have to wait.  You’ll need something to pass the time, a book is a great solution.  Better yet, bring a small journal to write in, so that you can share the events of your day.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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