Today is Scott Kelbys 8th Annual Photo Walk and with almost 1,000 walks scheduled around the world, its your best chance to get out and photo walk like a boss. While the event is today, you should still find many events still have slots open and you can go walk and meet new friends.
Use the Kelby Photo Walk as a warm up for the Photofocus Photo Walks happening later this fall. If you haven’t photo walked before, (or even if you have), Im here to help you make the very most of the occasion. Before you double knot your kicks and head out the door, heed these tips and prepare to step out in style, because photo walking isn’t just walking and it isn’t just about making photos.
TIP #1 – LOAD IT UP
Some photo walkers make the mistake of only bringing one or two cameras. Its best to be prepared for any eventuality by bringing as much gear as you can carry. If you have a large backpack you should stuff it full. In addition to having every contingency covered, you will look like a serious photographer and as anyone can tell you, looking serious is seriously cool. The downside to carrying a ton of gear is you will be tired and sore, which may dampen your creativity a bit. If you can bring an assistant to carry your kit, you will maximize your coolness. If you end up shouldering a massive pack for the photo walk, please don’t gloat about being a mobile camera store. Just use what you bring and make the sweat worth it.
TIP #2 – DIAL IT DOWN
It can be argued that less is more when it comes to photo walking. Nothing proclaims your confidence more than rolling up with a single camera and lens. By paring down your kit to a single camera, you will be forced to work within the confines of your gears limitations and that can be a great way to spawn creativity. Its also a bonafide way to look like a true artist, so go for extra points by choosing an alternative to a big curvy DSLR. Gain major hipster cred with a vintage film camera like the Pentax K1000, or better yet a Holga or pinhole camera. Top it off with a funky strap and crank up the photo flair! If you opt for the solo camera, don’t be a tool and spend all of your time talking about how much better you are because of it.
TIP #3 – BRING SOME STICKS
Every photo walk I have ever been on has featured a sunset. Some have even been spectacular. By bringing a tripod you will be able to properly capture the dramatic light at the end of the day and bring home some real keepers. If the thought of lugging around a tripod spoils your fun, consider some other means of support like the excellent PlatyPod. Don’t be the fool caught balancing their camera on a fence post, park bench or parked car. Thats rookie behavior and no one will think youre a boss when your images have motion blur.
TIP #4 – PROP IT UP
Want to up your photo walk game and make images that will stand out in the crowd? Bring some props. Ive seen photo walkers bring ingenious props like figurines, crazy hats, and crystal balls and their creativity has had the rest of us saying, man, I wish Id thought of that! Now you have thought of that. Youre welcome!
TIP #5 – NETWORK WHILE YOU WALK
As the photo walk crowd moves from point to point, you can walk in stony silence like some loner creep, or engage your fellow walkers in some friendly banter. Ive met truly fascinating and wonderful people on photo walks and if you bring some sort of calling card, you can easily turn this chance encounter into a lasting friendship. I love the little cards that moo.com produces and I always have a bundle of them in my pocket when I head out to photo walk. Chances are you decided to join the photo walk to meet other photographers, so take it to the next level by actually remembering their names when you get home. If you get some nice shots of your new friends on the walk, send them a copy. Even a photo walk with lousy light and mediocre scenery can prove to be a meaningful social event if you literally play your cards right.
TIP #6 – MIX IT UP
As you meet your fellow photo walkers, be cautious not to become stuck with just one or two new friends. Mix it up and mingle with the group. Remember, photo walking is networking and networking is working with a net. The bigger the net the better the catch, but be careful not to be overly eager to meet everyone at the walk. First impressions are powerful and no one wants to be seen as the overeager mingler.
TIP #7 – GET THERE EARLY
Most photo walks begin with a group photo and prizes. Yes, I said prizes! By being to the walks starting location early you will be able to find parking, use the bathroom and still make it the group photo on time. Most photo walks are now sponsored and supported by companies like Think Tank Photo and Fujifilm, so when you are there on time you are in the running for some really great prizes. Ive won t-shirts, hats, software and even a Wacom tablet! At my latest photowalk several people left with camera bags and other valuable prizes.
TIP #8 – STAY UP LATE
Ive heard people claim that photo walks are simply long walks to bars, and in my experience that is definitely the case. After a couple of hours of strolling and shooting, its very nice to sit down with your new friends and some adult beverages and swap stories. Some times these post-walk gatherings evaporate quickly, but the truly great walks will always carry on into the wee hours of the morning. Photographers often practice their craft in solitude, and while we may engage with our peers online the opportunities for face-to-face connections are rare. Photo walks are wonderful excuses to hangout with like-minded creatives. To make the most of your photo walk, I strongly encourage you to plan to stay up late and party with the gang. You can be a lonely photographer some other time.
TIP #9 – TAKE SOME DAMN PHOTOS!
You can come for the companionship and you can come to show off your expensive kit, but if you complete a photo walk without making some photographs, you are a poser. To photo walk like a boss, you need to photo while you walk. At every walk Ive participated in I have seen a lot of people carrying cameras and shooting the breeze, and many never ever take any photos. Even if the light is disappointing, the scenery uninspiring, and the company distracting, you must be a photographer and expose your sensor (or film) to light. Cameras aren’t jewelry and camera bags aren’t fashion pieces. Photo walks are the communal celebration of photography. Make some damn photos!
Learn more about Mason and see his work at masonmarsh.com.