A couple weekends ago, Kirk and I got up early, gathered our camera equipment and drove downtown. We were all business. A new client for San Diego Home Photography called us looking for a short video showcasing San Diego: surfers at Pacific Beach, sailboats in the bay, people walking along the Embarcadero, etc. We decided to begin the day’s shooting on Coronado Island, where we hoped to find plenty of sunbathers basking on white sand.

But, the marine layer wouldn’t budge. Come on clouds, don’t you see we have work to do here? No video of sunny San Diego shall have overcast skies! Weird thing was, later on when the sun did finally come out, we didn’t know what to shoot. Our enthusiasm for the project dropped off as soon as we started pointing the camera. Questions started coming out of the woodwork: How close should people be in these shots? Should we film each other to avoid needing model release forms? From who’s perspective? That girl’s dripping ice cream cone would be great, wouldn’t it? No, we need the big picture, the cityscape! But the details matter too… How are these shots going to work together if there’s only a music track, and no narrator? Our project imploded.

That afternoon, we found ourselves sitting on a beach towel eating our packed lunch, having nothing to show for our efforts. But, as we looked out over the bay at the sailboats and across to the city, something magical happened. We talked through the project and brained up a storm. And, we came up with some much better ideas for the video.

So why the diner shots? After we tortured ourselves for shooting nothing (even though we came up with great ideas to take back to the client), we were exhausted and needed a milkshake. Solid logic, no?

I remembered Clayton’s Coffee Shop from when Kirk’s parents visited in January. After watching the sunset from Hotel Del Coronado, Kirk’s dad, Kevin, and I were in dire need of coffee. The four of us made a quick stop at Clayton’s before starting our return drive north to Carlsbad. Turns out Clayton’s is more of a diner than a coffeeshop, with a horseshoe bar in the middle and booths lining the walls. The waitresses wear ruffled aprons and use an old cash register that actually ka-chings. As Kevin and I stood awkwardly waiting for our to-go cups, I promised myself I’d come back and order what should be consumed at a diner: fries and milkshakes.

Promise made, promise kept:

After our botched shoot, we talked to our client about our new ideas last Friday. She’s onboard and excited. So are we. This video’s going to take some time, probably a couple months. But after we finish all that hard work, you can bet I’ll be buying myself another milkshake. ☼