Useful Tips for a Great Photowalk

Michael Gabriel by Michael Gabriel on

Photowalk or photowalking is one of the most popular activities that photographers love doing. Aside from being fun, a photowalk presents interesting opportunities for creating stories with pictures.

As it is often considered a communal activity, a photowalk involves not just one, but a group of photographers.

Photowalk
photo by Luis

What is a Photowalk?

People who want to discover places of interest go on a tour; photographers who want to find subjects or things that might interest them go on a photowalk. They walk around a certain area or route to find subjects they might want to photograph. The main difference between the two activities, of course, is the fact that photographers bring their cameras with them when they go on a walking tour. In a photowalk, photographers focus more on the things that interest them, not necessarily or solely on people.

One of the main reasons for a photowalk is to practice and improve one’s craft. For this reason (and many more!), photowalking is a favorite activity of many camera clubs. Some groups even come up with photowalk competitions every now and then.

Valuable Photowalk Tips

Photowalk Marbella
photo by Antonio

More than anything else, a photowalk is an opportunity for photographers to exercise their imagination and creativity. Since the activity involves a lot of moving around, some may find it a little trying or intimidating. One can easily get caught up in his surroundings. Thus, it is important to know what to do when going on a photowalk, especially when going around with a big group.

Here are some tips that can help you make your photowalk experience fun, enjoyable and worthwhile.

  • Aside from your camera, make sure to also bring with you essential photography gear. However, since you will be moving around a lot, you should not bring too much. In the case of lenses, for example, take only two or three (including a telephoto) with you. Using a tripod is important for a lot of photographers, but for a photowalk, it might not be a good idea as carrying it around can wear you down – unless it is a smaller more portable tripod. If you really want something that can somehow help with the stability of your camera, trying going for what’s popular nowadays – the monopod. Bring only your flash when you’re sure to shoot in a light-challenged area. Lastly, make sure that you have enough storage for all the photos that you will be taking. Prepare an extra battery or two.
  • Before heading out, check weather updates. It’s your choice whether to proceed with the activity if the weather is too hot or too cold.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Think of the photowalk as an outdoor adventure – so you should dress appropriately. Your shoes should be comfortable and sturdy. Your clothes should protect you from the heat or the cold, depending on what the weather is. If you choose to wear pants, choose one with a lot of pockets so you can stuff some of your things inside them. Wear sunblock if the sun is high.
  • Whether you are going on a photowalk alone or with a group, it is important to plan your route ahead of time. Drawing up a plan will help you save time and effort since you know where you will be going next. You don’t need to be specific about the places you’re going to, just the route. Example: The group will assemble and take off from the X building and then proceed to the Y park located just several miles away, to the left of X building. It’s like creating a line map of where you plan to walk.
  • Planning your route becomes easy if you know your surroundings. Thus, it is important for you to check out the places online days before the scheduled photowalk. Hint: Use Google Earth and enable/check some Layers options (such as Places and Photos).
  • A photowalk will bring you closer to nature. It will also give you the chance to discover scenes you used to just pass by on your way to work, to the Church or while you’re walking to the park. You’ll find a lot of interesting things you’ve never noticed before. Thus, it is important to not only take wide shots but also to take a few close ups. This will be especially useful if you come across patterns or if you find something you are interested in but cannot really get close to it. An example is a photo of a mother carrying her child outside their home, which is located under the bridge.
  • If you want to take photos with a good balance of exposure, do not forget to bring your filters. Again, bring only the essential ones. An ND filter and a polarizing filter will help you come up with good photos.
  • Taking photos during a photowalk is as random as it can be. Therefore, you should always leave your camera on. This way, you won’t miss any interesting opportunity, scene or image the minute you see one.
  • The best way to take the most interesting photos is to find a spot where you can stand and then look in every direction of the place. Find an area that’s slightly elevated so it will be easy for you to take in the whole surroundings. A good 360° view of your photowalk location will open up windows of opportunity.
  • Be aware. Take notice of your surroundings; don’t focus your all into your camera. Look around; look at the activity around you. Immerse yourself in what’s happening around you. Don’t get lost in your viewfinder. In order to take good photos, you have to have an understanding of the subject/s you are trying to capture.
  • Lastly, find information about the rules and laws of the place where you are going to do your photowalk. If you’re doing it in a residential area, talk to the homeowners association and find out what requirements are needed; find out if there are rules or laws as to where you should go and which areas you can take photos of. It is likewise essential for you to know and understand your right as a photographer.

A photowalk is a fun and creative way of capturing scenes and freezing them into your camera lens. Whether you use a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, or a simple point-and-shoot doesn’t matter. What matters are the images that you capture and how you capture them. Have fun! :)

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