Photo walks are fun, but they do need a little planning to help make them a success.
Photo walks are excellent opportunities to bring together like-minded photographers, especially ones you've never met before, and have some fun in an informal setting. If you're tempted to organise your own, we spoke to Thomas Langley, Triggertrap's Head of Photography, who's the man behind their forthcoming London long exposure photo walk on Friday 24 April, to pick his brains and get his pointers.
It's a good idea to approach a photo walk with a theme, to give everyone who's attending an idea of what they'll be doing and also to give you a sense of purpose. You don't want to be wandering about aimlessly!
The obvious theme for a photo walk is street photography, but don't be afraid to break free from the mould. Maybe you want to focus on smartphone photography? Or perhaps you'll take your lead from your environment, and choose food if you've a bustling market close-by? Your theme could even lead you to a specific location, for example if you wanted to try landscape photography. In Triggertrap's case, they organise photo walk's based around their product, hence the next one being a long exposure walk.
Tom points out it's important to give some consideration to how many people you can successfully have on your walk: 'Forty people on a street photography walk might make street photography a bit difficult.'
How are you going to publicise your photo walk or encourage people to attend it, and how are you going to keep track of the numbers, too?
If you maintain a blog, announcing your photo walk there is a good place to start. But don't forget to make plenty of noise about it using your social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. Don't be afraid to send out personal invitations to people whom you think might be interested, or you'd really like to attend. If you don't ask, you'll never know. It's always worth dropping a note to other like-minded blogs, too. They're generally not the enemy!
4. RSVP and ticketing
How are you planning on keeping track of the people planning to come? As Tom says, it really does help to know how many people you're expecting. A Facebook event page is a start, but take a look at EventBrite, too. 'For events without a ticket cost, it's totally free to use Eventbrite. That's how we're tracking the Triggertrap long exposure walk,' Tom told me.
First of all, you need to decide on an accessible location for your photo walk. Make sure that photography is permitted wherever you intend to go. If you're planning on a countryside walk, ensure that you know the terrain, you have a map, and be sure to follow the countryside code, too.
It's crucial to decide on a suitable meeting point for your photo walk. You want it to be somewhere obvious, and well-populated for safety's sake, too, but you don't want to overwhelm the area. 'If you're going to be trying to host a landscape photo walk, the middle of a field isn't a suitable meeting place, perhaps a train station may be better!' says Tom.
Think about how you're going to communicate with your attendees before and after the event. Before hand, it's important so that you can share relevant information or because of last-minute changes of plan. And you don't want to let new friendships and contacts slip through the cracks afterwards (or for someone not to be re-united with their umbrella), so come up with a means of collecting their details.
Tom points out that if you're organising a specialist photo walk, asking the attendees about their experience is a good idea, too.
As well as the all-important social experience, a photo walk is a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills. Tom says to think about what you can offer in terms of advice, and what the people who are coming along can offer, too.
You don't want people to just drift off after the photos have been taken. Aim to end in a café, pub, or bar–somewhere you can sit down, have a drink and maybe something to eat, look at each other's photos, and pick each other's brains.
Tom says: 'Keep in mind how you can build a community out of the attendees. But don't leave it at encouraging further discussion about the photos people have taken or giving peer feedback. It could be the start of a good group. Plus, it gives you an audience for the next photo walk you organise!'
Finally, ensure that you have a contingency plan in case of bad weather, illness, or the unexpected. You can't be too prepared.
Then all you need to do is go out and have fun with your camera!