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 location and will likely be different than your end location. If we need to begin further away, I will contact you before setting the location and 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.
IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE, READ THIS LIST
- Your camera, any level
- Fully charged battery (and a 2nd battery, especially if your tour is in Winter)
- Memory card that is either empty and formatted or enough space for your new creations
- 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, 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!)
- A tripod if your tour is pre-sunrise or sunset
- Transit pass and/or downloaded ride apps (Curb, Uber, Lyft) if we’ve discussed more than a walking tour
- Be ready to explore and have fun!
1. What makes a Tour Through A Lens tour unique?
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 that’s nothing like that! 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 for you to work on the photo. If your interest is architecture, people, nature, waterways, you name it, I will build the route to highlight your interests. My goal is to help you accomplish your goal for your tour.
2. Do I need to be a professional photographer to take a 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.
3. How much of my tour time will be spent hearing about Chicago or architectural history?
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, personal 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 Center during your visit.
4. Will I be joining a group?
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.
5. I speak English but don’t feel it’s very good. Is this going to be a problem for my tour?
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.
You can always ask 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!
6. Does it matter if I don’t have a big, expensive professional level camera?
No. It’s less about the size of the camera and more about your knowledge and 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.
7. Will you be spending time during the tour teaching me how to use my camera?
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 how to use your camera’s buttons or the fundamentals 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.
8. Some of the photos on the website (or social media) are different than my goals for my tour. Are they representative of the tour I’ll receive from you?
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.
9. What if I don’t think I’m a creative person? Will I still benefit from taking a tour?
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.
10. What time of day are the tours?
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 a better 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.
11. Do you meet me at my hotel or will I be meeting you at a different location?
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 to avoid you missing the “best light”.
**NOTE: We usually do not end the same location that we begin.
12. Will we start and end at the same location?
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.
13. How do we get from location to location during my tour?
Tours generally include a lot of walking and, depending on the option you choose, may also include public transit or rideshares. 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!
14. Can my child accompany me on my tour?
The short answer is Yes, with conditions.
If you are booking a tour as a family, the preferred minimum age for children is 5 years old. Children ages 5-15 are $35 each when accompanied by an adult. Teens age 16 and older are $65 each when accompanied by an adult. Note: These prices are only if they are the third or more person as tours are priced for one person and one companion.
Every minor will have to have the accompanying adult sign the Waiver Form. Please contact me directly with any questions.
15. What if the weather is bad? Do you cancel the tour?
That depends. 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
16. How do I find out if there’s a group tour available on the date I want?
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.
17. Are there other Tour Through A Lens tours?
For other TTAL options in Chicago, please visit the Tours page. If you’re looking to take a Tour Through A Lens outside Chicago or the U.S., email me with your request and let’s discuss the possibility of a destination tour.
18. Does Tour Through A Lens provide a Graffiti Tour?
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.
19. I’m looking for something very specific while on my tour. Will you accommodate this request?
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..
1 What if I have questions during my booking process?
Contact me, Teresa, by phone or text (+1 312-291-1064) or email, email@example.com
2. I want a more personal approach to my pre-tour booking experience. How can I contact you?
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
3. Can I pay cash?
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.
4. Do I need to complete the booking process before you block my tour time on your tour calendar?
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 Your Contract)
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.
Once your tour is confirmed by TTAL and booked, the following reschedule or cancellation options are available to you:
- 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, contact me immediately and 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 12 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 (less any non-refundable third-party processing fees).
- 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 and any non-refundable third-party processing fees.
- If you need to cancel less than seven days prior to your tour date, no refund will be given. Location scouting and planning time has been given to build your very own custom tour.