If you’ve never taken your camera out of your house to randomly walk around taking photos of things you find interesting, you’re missing out on a very therapeutic endeavor. I love photo walks, and I’ve touched on them a bit here recently, but I thought a 5 Reasons post would give me a chance to expound a bit. Yes, and I get to share photos from a recent couple of photo walks. 😉
1. You get to have quiet time
I frequently go on walks for lunch. I work downtown, so there is a lot to see, and Downtown Memphis is going through some gentrification which makes for plenty of photographic opportunities. One thing I like about doing this solo photo walk is that it allows me to unwind my brain. While things are busy — cars rushing by, people talking — I shove all that to the back of my mind. I am determined to find things that are interesting.
2. You view things differently
Any time I go for a photo walk, whether with others or alone, I find I view things differently. Instead of merely looking for things, I’m observing. That takes a little more intention than just passively walking down the road hoping something crops up worth photographing. No, observing means purposely looking around with every step at shadows, light, colors, textures, people, animals, signs and buildings. When you’re observing things, even things you find uninteresting, things you’ve walked by a hundred times before, they become unique and engaging, and then you depress the shutter release.
3. Life slows down
Along with solitude, quietness, and observation, the act alone of doing a photo walk slows everything down. It’s a stop and smell the roses paradigm. Everything is about purpose and intent. I’ve purposely stopped and stared at a bird on a park bench until it flew off so I could capture it in flight. It turned out to be a not-so-interesting photo, but it was life slowed-down. Sometimes I’ll see something interesting, then walk completely around it from different angles to see what the best composition will be. When I’m done, I feel like I’ve been at it a while, but the reality is it’s just a couple of minutes.
4. You stir creativity
All of the above cause the brain to work in a completely different way. Instead of logical, you become idealistic. When I’m out on a walk, I tend to look at my surroundings thinking “how would this look through the viewfinder ?”, “why is this interesting ?” It’s a great way to look at things. When I’m out attempting street photography, I’m looking for things like juxtapositions, shadows, interesting faces. I tend to shoot black and white mostly, so my brain disregards anything with flashy color. Believe me, in downtown Memphis there are no shortage of interesting people in interesting clothing. FYI most of them are crazy.
5. You get to bond with others of common interest
I’ve done a few photo walks now in groups, and I generally enjoyed them. I’m a bit of an introvert, so I am not to fond of crowds. However, I have found a good balance with small groups and interesting locations that offer me the ability to spread out and wander off alone or hang close with other photographers. The other nice thing is that you can get feedback on your work from the people you went out shooting with. This is valuable — if they’re honest and not just doing lip service — because you can continue to grow.If you’ve never been on a photo walk, I encourage it. Take a break at lunch if you work in an urban setting, an open-air mall, or even a park, and make some photos. Soon you’ll have co-workers asking you about it, and you can gather a group for a photo walk.