So you want to run a photowalk? Excellent! Running and even just attending such events are actually really good for you as a photographer. Because often we spend so much time sitting in front of a computer or locked in a darkroom so some social interaction is a good thing! Plus you never know you might learn somehting. I’ve attended plenty of photowalks and have been for the past year and a bit running my own Toronto Film Shooters Meetup (TFSM) with some level of success. I love interacting with other photographers both in shooting and just socializing.
Abandoned Bike – TFSM Summer ’14
Honestly, to get started you need three simple things:
A Date: Pick one that works for you, sure you can ask around but you’ll never settle it in a group…find one and run with it.
A Location: Pick a spot you’re familiar with.
Food: Yes, make sure that the event begins or ends with some kind of meal.
Once you have those three things nailed, you’re ready to promote your event. Social media is a great way to promote it, but you got to target the right groups. Facebook: Yep, we love it and we hate it, but good chance you have a lot of photography related friends on your facebook profile, send out a group message! Also groups on facebook for your local area might yield some additional attendies as well. Twitter: Always worth a shot, be sure to tag your post with the city name, and photography even photowalk. Flickr! Yes, the forgotten photosharing social media platform, always a good choice because again local cities might have dedicated groups or groups dedicated to the types of photography that you’re using. Other choices that you may want to use are tumblr, reddit, and old school web forums! Always show up early to the spot and try and be visible and keep your phone on, loud, and charged in case people try and reach you. Having a camera sitting out usually helps identify you. And be friendly! Go up and introduce yourself if you see someone looking around lost, they might be looking for your group.
Mike in Action – TFSM Summer ’14
When bringing gear to these walks, don’t lug everything and the kitchen sink. Believe me, I know, I’ve done it…and regretted it. I remember the very first Film Photography Project Mid-West Walking Workshop, I had like six cameras with me, and got two more at the event! Way too many and I mean I did use all the cameras I had, but many times I had to carry a majority of them with me. The only saving grace was that the event was over the course of several days and the hotel I was in was right in the middle of the event space so I could easily swap out…but honestly, never again. Today I usually will decided to bring one…maybe two cameras. Usually I’ll go with 35mm or 120, I’d bring my 4×5 since it’s a press camera but only if the event was a dedicated Large format event…and then I’d just bring that camera, nothing more. Bring film…always bring lots of film with you, or better yet, if the event has a camera store that sells film, make a point to go out and buy a couple rolls fresh to shoot. Often I find I’ll shoot more because I can focus on a single camera/lens combo. Plus it’s a lot lighter to bring one camera! And be prepared to shoot less than you expect to, you will honestly spend more time socializing than shooting and you know what, that’s okay to! Because you’re there to network with fellow photographers.
Cosmic Salad @ the Don Valley Brick Works – TFSM Summer ’13
And last but not least, don’t panic, and don’t fret. Often you’ll do all this planning and have no one show up! I mean that even happened to me at the TFSM Winter ’14 event, I promoted it, I planned it…and it was just me. Oh well, I had a couple drinks at the bar and moved out and did a bit of shooting, the weather was garbage anyways. Did that stop me? Nope, had a great turn out at the Spring event. And yes, you will be faced with possibilities of bad weather, detractors, and people who just are pains…but again don’t panic, and stay super positive, because these are planned for FUN. Keep it loose, and if you want to do this more listen to the attendees, the TFSM Fall ’13 location was given to me by Mike and John, loyal attendees of these events, and sure it rained but it was still a blast! And speaking of rain, go anyways! Weather will be weather, dress appropriately and bring an appropriate camera. Or instead of going out shooting, look around before hand see if there’s an exhibit or gallery show of a local artist and go and look at other work see if you can’t find some inspiration.
A dying view – TFSM Spring ’14
And probably the best part about Photowalks, at least what I’ve found is that they’re a great way to lift yourself out of a photographic funk! So get out there, meetup and keep shooting!