Jake and I went to photograph Cape Cod lighthouses. It was in our early days of traveling together. We weren’t yet that good at exploring yet, and though we liked photography enough to drive a few hours, it was long before Jake and Dannie Studio, and we’d never pressed the shutter as professionals.

Beach Dunes on Cape Cod at sunset.

Surfers on Cape Cod early in the morning.

The first thing we learned when we got there was that Cape Cod is big. It’s not like you can photograph one lighthouse, then drive down the road and photograph the next. We had two days and two nights to get it done, and we only wound up making it to a few lighthouses. The thing we learned was that not all of the lighthouses were built or maintained with photography in mind. A lot of them are on private land and some of the most famous ones are out in the ocean and can only be visited by boat.

In other words, a little more planning would have made our trip a lot more productive. We should have known where we wanted to be and at what time so that we could get the shots we wanted and spend the rest of our time enjoying ourselves. Searching for “lighthouse” in google maps is not the most efficient way to get things done. But the trip wasn’t a bust (it never is with us). Not only did we learn a lot about planning – check out how we treated our first Paris trip as a comparison – we also got what non-photographers get out of their trips to Cape Cod. A weekend of away from home, enjoying each other’s company in a beautiful setting.

The sky over a cape cod beach, with people under umbrellas.

A lighthouse on cape cod rising above the trees.

So here is what we’ll do differently if we ever make it to Cape Cod again.

  1. Make a list of lighthouses: If we were there for two nights, we’d come up with four lighthouses – one for each sunrise and sunset – and we’d make sure we knew how long it would take us to get to them from wherever we were staying. We’d also make sure we were calculating rush hour traffic into our equation.
  2. Stay in an Airbnb instead of a hotel: These days we always try to rent an apartment so that we’ll have resources like a kitchen, free wifi and other comforts of home. It’s also less expensive, and it gives you a feeling of living in a place, rather than just visiting.
  3. Spend more time on the beach: Last time we spent too much time trying to figure out what we were doing and not enough time relaxing. In the middle of the day, the light isn’t much good for photography. If we’d done our planning ahead of time, we could have made sure we spent our down time playing in the sun or dining in quaint little cafes.

Of course, if we ever go to Cape Cod again the biggest difference will be that we’ll have our daughter in tow. But honestly, I think she’s better equipped to enjoy the Cape than we are. I can just picture her running up the steps in this last picture, and it kind of makes me want to follow her.

By the way, our Cape Cod lighthouses trip was brief, but on our current adventure we’re doing things a little differently. Check out our post in which we delve into the definition of slow travel.

Stairs and a path leading to a lighthouse on cape cod.