FAQ Fast Start
This Fast Start may answer your basic questions. If not, locate your question below. If you still have a question not answered here, contact me.
Meet / End Locations:
Depending on the tour time and your stay location, meeting locations are somewhere near your hotel or stay and will likely be different than your end location. If we need to begin further away, I will discuss with you before setting the location to assess your comfort level. Upon special request, I will meet a client in their hotel’s lobby, and this may involve additional time being added to your tour.
- Bring your camera, any level
- Be ready to explore and have fun!
Other important things to bring:
- Fully charged battery (and a 2nd battery, especially if your tour is in Winter)
- Memory card that is either empty and formatted or has a lot of space for photos
- Bottle of water or hydrating drink (energy drink, etc) to keep your body’s gears lubricated so you can walk and bend
- Shoes that are comfortable for walking, preferably closed-toe, and you won’t mind getting dirty
- Most times of year, dressing in layers appropriate to the weather. The temperature is not the only thing to consider. If we go along the lake, the wind may cool you. Chicago, and other parts of the Midwest, have humidity, even in Winter. Base layer, insulating layer, moisture-wicking clothing, hat, gloves and scarf are essential!
- If you’re tour is pre-sunrise or sunset, bring a tripod
Remember the feelings or thoughts you had about the group photo tours you’ve taken on your travels around the world? While the tour may have been enjoyable, didn’t you feel pressured to stay with the group, maybe missing an opportunity to capture that “great photo”? Did you lag behind to capture quick shots of things along the way without the group in every photo, only to be called out by the tour guide to keep up pace? Was a portion of what you were shown or told not of interest to you?
Imagine being on a photo tour without these factors. Tour Through A Lens gives you a personal, unique experience. My time is your time. If you see something along our route that really draws your attention, we can stop to give you time to work on the photo. If your interest is architecture, people, nature, urban grit, you name it, I will build the route to highlight your interests. My goal is to help you accomplish your goal for your tour.
Absolutely not. My clients are professionals, amateur hobbyists and companions who find the desire to capture photos and pull out their smartphones. Being comfortable with your camera is what’s important. Know your equipment and I’ll help you with the creativity.
The main goal of these tours is photography and seeing the city from a visual perspective. Bits of history will be infused into your tour without going too deep into details. You may also hear about local “Chicagoisms” or quirky stories about the city.
If you enjoy architectural history and additionally want to learn about Chicago’s deep roots, I highly recommend also booking a walking tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation during your visit.
Unless you’re booking a group, you will not be part of a group. Tour Through A Lens is primarily an individual bespoke experience. Your tour is your own.
If you are participating as part of your corporate / organization group visit, you will be in a group setting. If you desire to book an additional custom tour during your free time, you are welcome to book your own. Find your preference on the Tours page.
It’s common for people who are learning English as an additional language not to feel comfortable speaking in this country. If that describes you, Tour Through A Lens is the right tour for you.
Throughout my life, I have had friends and colleagues from other countries, and I have learned to speak slow and clear, when needed, breaking sentences into words that may easily translate or sound similar.
I will always ask you to tell me to repeat or slow down if I say something you don’t understand, and I will do the same with you. Be confident that this will be a good opportunity to take photos and practice English in a non-judging environment. We will have fun!
No. It’s less about the size of the camera and more about your comfort level with it. There are mirrorless, dSLRs, hybrids, compact point & shoot cameras and, of course, smartphones. It’s true, for some things, your ability to capture the scene you want may be limited by your camera’s technology or lens you’re carrying. That said, we will look for different angles that you can capture.
The number of locations or amount of time we are able to spend creating photos will be directly impacted by the amount of time spent teaching you how to use your camera’s buttons or the basics of photography such as definitions of aperture, ISO, etc. If you have an opportunity to attend a workshop or learn online prior to your visit, our time can be spent concentrating on capturing the city to tell the story of your visit. I’m happy to recommend some excellent online workshops, if you would like.
Not to worry. Every person has a different photographic eye, regardless of experience level. As a local who explores the city regularly, I see Chicago differently than most of you will. You will give me insight into your perspective through your answers to the pre-booking questions, and I will build the tour based on your eye, not mine. That said, I may share with you what I see to open your eyes to a different perspective.
Yes! For much of my life, I didn’t think I possessed any creativity, as I was using analytical and organizational skills to perform my work. Through photography, I have found that not only am I creative, but sometimes to a point of being abstract.
You have creativity in you. You may not tap into it every day or see something you do as creative, but I guarantee it’s there. I will point out things along our route that begin to open your eyes to ordinary things in creative ways.
Depending on your and my schedules, the time for your tour is mostly your choice. Depending on your goal, I may suggest a slightly different time to provide you the best time of light for photos. Some people want to “chase light” based on sunrise / sunset times. If that’s you, please indicate that when booking your tour.
In most cases, I do not meet clients at their stay location unless specifically requested. This may mean additional time if your hotel/stay is not near the tour route. If this is the situation, I will communicate with you about it.
We will be meeting at a location near your hotel or stay location where we will begin the tour route. In some instances, such as a sunrise tour, it may be necessary to either meet at your hotel prior to your tour start or at the start location. This is to avoid you missing the “best light”.
**NOTE: We usually do not end the same location that we begin.
Usually, no. Depending on your individual tour and your post-tour plans, we may end in the nearby area we began. Other times, my goal will be to get you to the most locations possible. Either way, when we finish, we discuss whether you prefer I navigate your return with you.
Tours generally include a lot of walking and, depending on the option you choose, may also include public transit. These forms are the best way for you to take the journey through the city rather than simply destination-to-destination. Sometimes, you’ll find your favorite photos along the journey!
The short answer is Yes, if age 5 or older!
If you are booking a tour as a family, the preferred minimum age for children is 5 years old. Children ages 5-15 are $25 each when accompanied by two adults. Teens 16 and older are $65 each when accompanied by two adults. Tours are priced for one person and one companion.
For a more interactive skill activity with your children, ages 5-15, consider the Childlike Tour.
As always, there are exceptions. Please contact me directly with any questions.
It is recommended you bring to your tour:
- Yourself (and your companion, if you registered one)
- Your camera and lens
- An empty, formatted CF or SD card (whichever applies to your camera); for smartphones, please have enough storage available for photos
- A fully charged battery; an extra fully charged battery would be a good idea (in Winter months, place inside an internal pocket near your body heat)
- A hydrating beverage: water, sports drink, etc
- Wear comfortable, preferably closed-toe, walking or hiking shoes that provide support for walking several hours. We do go off-sidewalk on occasion.
- If a sunrise, sunset or night tour, a tripod. (Occasionally, we have the ability to stop and drop your tripod off if your stay is along the route)
- Your camera’s manual or have it open on your phone in case we need to locate a quirky setting.
Before I answer this, I will say I have not yet had to cancel a tour entirely. I place my order for good weather for your tour ahead of time. 😉
Weather in Chicago is very changeable, from neighborhood to neighborhood, near the lake or away from the lake, and photography is year-round and in nearly all forms of weather. For non-residents, navigating weather forecasts that cover an area spanning from Northwest Indiana to the Wisconsin border may not work for our specific locations.
I will be monitoring the forecast and watching the trend, and if it looks like precipitation, I’ll contact you to discuss. If you or I are not comfortable with the weather, we will look at options within your itinerary to reschedule.
In the event cancellation is necessary, please see the Cancellation / Reschedule Policy
With a few exceptions, Tour Through A Lens primarily focuses on individual bespoke tours customized for you. Submit your preferred date for availability and we’ll go from there.
The primary purpose of a Tour Through A Lens Graffiti Tour is to educate non-graffiti people about Chicago’s unique graffiti history, ways to create more interesting photos of the art, hear about some of the artists I personally know, and learn etiquette tips for approaching an artist onsite and photographing their work.
If your itinerary doesn’t allow time for the pre-set 3-hour, 5-hour or 9-hour tour, or you know you will want more time, or multiple tours, please email me with your request, firstname.lastname@example.org. If the time is available, I’ll be happy to accommodate you.
If possible, yes! This Tour Through A Lens is yours. I want you to get from it what you want. Email me or include your special request in the Special Request section during your booking process.
Contact me, Teresa, by phone or text (+1 312-291-1064) or email, email@example.com
Completely understandable. If you want to discuss your tour goal or ask questions, please contact me, Teresa, by phone, text or email.
M: +1 (312) 291-1064
Pre-paying for your tour is preferred. I put time into planning your tour and, should you not show, it would be time wasted. Also, exchanging cash in a large city is not something I’d like to be seen in public, for your safety and mine. That said, there are times it’s unavoidable, and I ask that you discuss with me beforehand to be sure we’re mutually agreed.
Yes. Once you’re committed, I am also. If you and I have been communicating about your tour prior to completion of your booking, and I receive another request during your tour date/time, you are given first choice, if you reply within 24 hours.
Cancellation / Reschedule Policy
(For Group / Corporate Bookings, See Contract)
It has not yet happened that a tour has had to cancel, but things do happen. Weather-related, travel-related, injury- or illness-related, these all may leave you or I no option but to cancel. Before we take that step, consider the option to reschedule.
- If you (or I) are unable to participate in the tour, and there is an opportunity in your current travel itinerary to reschedule for a time that is available for me, let’s reschedule!
- If you (or I) are unable to participate in the tour, and you are unable to reschedule within your current travel itinerary or I’m unavailable, but you want to keep your booking, you have the option to reschedule for a tour within 18 months from your original tour date. This provides you the opportunity to plan to take your tour during next year’s visit!
- If rescheduling is not an option for you and we are 30 or more days prior to your tour date, you may request a full refund for the tour price (any third-party processing fees cannot be refunded).
- If you need to cancel 7 – 29 days prior to your tour date, you may request a partial refund less a planning fee of $50 USD.
- If you need to cancel less than seven days prior to your tour date, please notify me as soon as possible. Unfortunately, no refund will be given. Location scouting and planning time has been given to build your very own custom tour.