Planning a Photo Walk?

Getting together with fellow photographers is always fun – lots of other like-minded people, plenty to talk about, and great for networking, right?  But, at some point you’re gonna have to start walking around and taking pictures.  I’ve found with most photo walks that I’ve attended it helps to have a game plan.  Whether you are the organizer or an attendee really doesn’t matter too much because these tips are intended for both.  Here’s what I mean:

1.  Check the weather – It’s always important to dress the part, and the last thing you want is to be under-dressed (cold) or over-dressed (too hot).  It’s a good idea to check the forecast and to dress in layers.  Allow yourself a layer of removal or addition if needed.  I have several apps built into my Android phone, as that makes it quick and easy to check both the night before and the day of…here’s the four I’ve heard the most about (I use #1)

  1. Accuweather
  2. Weather Channel
  3. Weatherbug
  4. iMap

2.  Check the map – With the abundance of online mapping utilities like Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, and Mapquest, it’s easier than ever to see where you will need to be and plan your travel time to the starting point accordingly.  I always allow about 15 extra minutes in case of traffic, Starbucks stops, or other time killers… (if you’re the organizer, publish or share your route with the group so people know where to meet and where the anticipated walk will take everyone…)

Google Map of USA

3.  Check your gear – I’m guilty of forgetting things myself on outings, but it helps if you have a checklist to reference the night before when packing (batteries, memory cards, business cards, cell phone, camera, lenses, etc.)

Gear Check

4.  Pick a theme – Whether you are the organizer or an attendee, it helps to at least have a starting point or an idea of what the goal is of the walk.  For instance, on a trip to the Columbia zoo a few years back, one attendee picked a theme of “faces” and came back with some incredible portraiture of the animals in their various habitats.  Often photo walk leaders or organizers may start with something general like “architecture” in an urban location, but it can help to narrow that for your own creative vision to get more detailed.  Narrowing the theme of architecture to something like vertical lines, arches, or even something as simple as windows can help spark that creativity needed to make photo walks productive.  Don’t forget to check with other photogs on their creative path and help and encourage them too (which could be a tip in and of itself!)

Signs of Encouragement

5.  Be ready to adapt – Circumstances change, weather can change, and even the scenery can change.  I was on an outing just last week to capture the moon at its perigree and the skyline was pretty blatantly thrown off by the recent addition of a crane to the area. If you aren’t able to adapt to changing environments, outings can be less than satisfying, so be open to change at a moments notice!

Bad Skyline Shot

That’s just five of many tips and ideas on how to make photo walks successful, enjoyable, and productive.  As always though, there’s plenty more where that came from!  What about you?  Have you been on any recent photo walks?  What’s worked or works for you when you go on outings with fellow photographers? Sound off in the comments with your own ideas!


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2 comments for “Planning a Photo Walk?

  1. March 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Great advice!

    I’m the founder/organiser of Toronto Photo Walks and we’re out exploring the city every other Saturday. One thing people learned during the winter walks is to keep spare batteries inside their coats – swapping out the “dead” batteries and warming them up for a while can bring them back to 20% left.

    Also, I use an iPhone app called Photo Walk Ideas ( which generates a random list of ideas for shots.

  2. March 28, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I think it’s one of the best ways to find areas that you’d never find if you didn’t take the time to walk and explore. I know in Charleston there are alot of alley’s and side streets that driving through in a car you’ll miss out on some of the gardens and houses that make this area so beautiful. Great Advice.

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