One of the things I like most about shooting landscapes is getting out early to enjoy a peaceful quiet morning. While often solitary, it gives me a chance to escape a sometimes busy life, think, and soak up nature. Another truth about me, is that my photography was born from the Internet. Certainly I'm not unique, as the photographic arts have grown in recent years because of the many avenues found on-line to share and view millions of images. Given these two realities, it would be easy for me to shoot alone, share my images on-line and interact with other photographers 100% virtually. I think this is a bad idea and if you subscribe to it, you're doing yourself a disservice. You need to get out and join a photo walk.
A photo walk is simply a gathering of photographers in an agreed location to take a walk and shoot together. Walks can be arranged formally with registration, themes, and the like, or the they can be an informal gathering with little or no restrictions at all. The one thing they all have in common is the meeting of photographers in real space to spend time together shooting and sharing.
"Pot of Gold" was captured at the Seattle Center during a G+ photo walk in 2013.
The other thing the walks I've joined have in common is that they included photographers of all skill levels and experience as well varying "quality" of equipment. I've been on walks that included full-time professionals with pro gear shooting next to brand new photographers carrying point and shoot cameras. I've never once heard or seen anyone be judgmental or think more or less of anyone because of these differences. The great diversity of experience and being with other photographers in real space is the true benefit of joining a photo walk.
Another benefit to joining a walk is getting the opportunity to shoot new subjects. While I primarily shoot landscapes and nature, the walks I've attended were in urban settings and the subjects could best be described as "street photography". I'll continue to focus most of my work in nature, but I'm proud to share images I've captured during these walks and some are among my personal favorites. Even so, the purpose of the walk is not to diversify my portfolio, but to shoot outside my comfort zone; interect with other photographers; see the world from a new perspectives and share stories and experiences.
"The Hands of Time" was captured at Seattle's Pike Place Market during the 2011 Kelby Worldwide Photo walk.
Like the growth of photography, the opportunities to join a photo walk have grown too. You can go "old school" by finding a local photo club that meets and goes on walks. While this may seem old fashioned, it's still one of the best ways to meet and network with other photographers, the Internet gives us many other opportunities for photo walks. Joining Google Plus and Flickr and networking with local photographers is an easy way to find walks in your area. There are also opportunities to join international photo walks; two such opportunities are right around the corner.
Saturday, October 5, 2013 thousands of photographers around the globe will all be out shooting images during the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk. This was the first photo walk I participated in back in 2010 and it was amazing. Not only do you reap the benefits of a photo walk, but you will share the experience with people around the world. The knowledge that there is someone in Paris out shooting the City of Light the same time I'm in Seattle shooting the Pike Place market is a bit surreal. You can get more information and sign up for the Kelby walk at the Kelby Photo Walk page.
Another opportunity to join an international walk is on September 21, 2013. The photo hosting site 500px is sponsoring a worldwide photo walk through the great "meet up" site meetup.com. (this is also a great place to find local photo clubs) You can find a walk in your area and register through the 500px meet up page.
Whether you join one of these large international walks or a local photo club, or just find a friend to go out with the goal is the same. GET OUT AND SHOOT.