Photo walks are taking the world by storm. At golden hour, in just about any city on earth, you can step out onto the streets and find photo fiends pointing their smart phones and DSLRs at everything that moves. Naturally, fixed objects such as the 6th Street Bridge, the Eifel Tower and the London Eye are fair game too.
Instagram, EyeEm, Hipstamatic, VSCO and various other photo entities provide the infrastructure for these addictive image-grabbing free-for-alls. Go once and you’re hooked. And why not? Photo walks are a safe haven for you to let your freak flag fly as you explore new places, binge out on creativity and make new friends.
Quite often photo walks are hosted by local photographer ‘rock stars’ who organize the events with the support of all manner of sponsors. Sometimes there are raffles or prizes for the best images, guest photographers and other fun gimmicks. Of course, hashtags, filters and props are essential, and “likes” are part of the drama. After an event, it’s always fascinating to see captures of similar scenes from different points of view.
At one meet up I attended, hosted by photographer Pete Halvorsen, a local bike shop sponsored the event and gave away this bicycle for the best photograph. Sorry, no cash money prize for guessing who went home with the bike!
At that same photo walk, Pete also brought along a dance troupe to model for participants. Their incredible skill and willingness to comply with every wish resulted in some of my favorite images. Thank you Jacob Jonas the Company!
Another time, Pete even arranged for a helicopter to fly over the beach and capture a photograph of the group.
At this photo walk in Manhattan Beach, renowned Instagrammer Lauren Lemon joined in on the photo fun.
If you’re on the shy side, photo walks are a great opportunity to get people shots you might normally avoid asking for in your regular life. Everybody is there in the name of fun image making and is ready, willing and available to jump at your command, wear that silly mask you brought along or risk getting wet in the frigid waters of the Pacific.
Another advantage of moving around in a large group is that you can safely go to interesting places you might normally avoid. And it’s always a pleasant surprise when stereotypes are dismantled as you discover the friendly side of the other side of the tracks.
While photo walks are a great way to get to know your own city, they are also a traveler’s best friend. When I’m on the road, I always check with my photo connections on social media to find out about meet ups that might be happening during my trip. What better way to get a friendly introduction to a new city?
Have you been on an ‘organized’ photo walk? I’d love to know where, and what you thought about the experience. Please share in the comments below.
Dubbed “LA’s iPhoneography Wizard” by Forbes Magazine, Alon Goldsmith is an award-winning photographer who has been featured extensively across media and exhibited in galleries around the globe. His recent achievements include Honorable Mentions in the Mobile Photography Awards, a category win in the Hipstography Awards, publication in the Los Angeles Times and Reader’s Digest, features in Snap Magazine and Mobiography, a one-man show in Brentwood and San Diego, and a group show at HaleARTS in Santa Monica.