(Note: this week's Macro Monday post has been postponed until Tuesday so I could bring you this post about this weekend's Worldwide Photo Walk)
Vienna Worldwide Photo Walk 2010 - Images by Elijah Goodwin
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One of my enduring (classroom) memories from high school is when my English teacher brought in a local writer to run a creative writing workshop and club. One of the activities she had us do was brainstorm a bunch of random words and then she would choose a word and give us 5 minutes or so to quickly write (or begin) a short story generated from and incorporating that word. I loved the fast-paced creativity involved with having to come up with a bunch disparate but interesting story beginnings based on all the different words. Well, this weekend I participated in my first ever Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk and it brought back those feelings and memories from English class.
For those of you who haven't heard of it, which I also hadn't until a few weeks ago, photographers sign-up (limit 50) for walks in their city or area and then walk around a visually interesting area of the city for about two hours taking images and sometimes interacting. Then everyone meets at a restaurant for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks depending on the timing of the walk and gets to interact and talk photography with other area photographers. There is also a contest associated with the walk, but the main goal of the walk is to spur social interaction and jump start your creativity. This year was the third year, and it seems like it is growing, so I definitely recommend checking it out for next year.
I participated in the Vienna photo walk, led by Photoshop/Digital expert Richard Harrington. At the beginning of our walk, Richard challenged us to avoid taking the types of photographs that we usually take and try something different. I decided to take that admonition to heart. As we were in the middle of a town, that wasn't too hard for me, but I strictly resisted taking close-up flower images from the many beautiful gardens we passed along the way as I do those frequently. I was out of my comfort zone in every way possible. In addition to the unique subject matter, this walk began at 10am as the summer sun began to get harsh. In the summer months in particular, unless it is a cloudy/rainy day, I'm starting to wind down by 10am and starting to scout for or travel to late afternoon/evening locations. If nature is cooperative, I'm also used to working a good subject as long as I want, sometimes for hours, but in order to keep up with the pace of the walk, I had to make shots relatively quickly.
I can't tell you what a blast this event was. Just like back in my English class years ago, I felt those creative juices flowing in response to the challenge. I feel like I got a new boost of creativity and inspiration; and opened up a new world of potential photographic subjects. I also really enjoyed meeting some local photographers and talking shop and good locations in the area. I must admit that the solo nature photography thing, while peaceful and wonderful, can sometimes get a bit lonely. I just wish the restaurant we ate at was a bit more conducive to interacting with a large group, there were many folks I didn't really get to talk to. Despite the brutal heat this weekend (by time we finished the walk the heat index was 112), I came out of this experience energized and reinvigorated. Most surprising to me was how much I enjoyed interacting with the non-photographers along the walk, asking for permission to enter buildings or take their picture. Everyone was very nice, accomodating, and interested in sharing their stories or hearing about the walk.
If you have chance, I highly recommend you participate in a photo walk. It is a surefire cure for a lag in creativity, a case of "there's nothing to photograph", or the belief that there is no shots to be had in "bad" light. If you can't wait for next year, or you can't find a convenient photo walk near you, why not create one with some friends or advertise one with the local photography club? Or you could always assign yourself a solo photo walk. Just make sure you challenge yourself to step out of your usual comfort zone and watch those creative juices flow.