A photowalk is a great way to spark some inspiration. For those who have never participated in one, a photowalk is basically a group of photographers who get together to go through a (very) rough itinerary of locations. Sometimes there is a theme, most cases there is not. You may not get many great photos from such an excursion, but you will learn some techniques and get some ideas from the other photographers. But as with all photography, you only get out of it what you put into it. The trick is to be specific and think specific.
Suppose for a moment that you were on a photowalk and your goal was simply to shoot…stuff. You can certainly go out and look for stuff to photograph. And maybe you’ll get lucky. But your mind will wander. You’ll lose track of your ideas or your ideas will be incomplete. It’s fair to say that you’ll probably have a good photo or two to come out of the photowalk. But lets be honest: I don’t think the photowalk will be a productive one for you.
Alternatively, you could improve your efficiency, effectiveness and the quality of your photographs if you have specific goals in mind. Maybe the event you’re participating in does this for you if it has a theme; a specific topic that you and your fellow walkers are trying to capture. For example, maybe the theme is vanishing points. Now you’re looking for lines leading off into the horizon and you’re looking for clear evidence of their convergence. Having a theme helps you focus your mind and makes your search for photographs very efficient, because you already know what you’re looking for. If you’re leading a photowalk, let that be a tip for you: Have a theme. Some photographers will appreciate the guidance.
Now if a photowalk you are participating in does not have a theme, you can make one up for yourself. Here’s a couple of ideas:
- Leading Lines and Vanishing Points
- Pick a color (try to include that color in every shot)
- Nature Always Wins
- Restrict yourself: Shoot only Black & White, only 35mm, etc.
- Half (take photos with the subject clearly cut in half by the edge of the frame)
- Photographers taking photos (one of my personal favorites)
As an aside, I also recommend picking themes when you’re out on your own (though it might be harder to capture photographers taking photos).
So next time you’re on a photowalk, make the best of it. Get specific about your goals and give yourself specific topics or themes. That way, you can be assured that you will get the best out of your next photowalk.