Photo walks are something I had often read about online – photographers meeting together to walk, chat, and take photographs. But I had never really sought them out, purely because I believed photography to be a solo activity. My general impression was that it’s primarily a social gathering, often involving a drink, after or during the event, with the added fun of taking photos along the way. For the most part, I had seen positive reviews from photographers.
So I was intrigued when I was recently invited to take part in a photo walk. Apart from one friendly guy, whom I had only met once through the sale of a camera, I did not know a single person at this proposed meet. Even though I would describe myself as an introvert, I was keen to meet some new people. Maybe this was because they were photographers, specifically film photographers, who I generally associate with being a fun and interesting bunch of people. I also thought to myself, at the very worst, I could just ‘slip off’ from the crowd if I wasn’t enjoying myself.
The location of the meet was at a train station on the north side of Dublin City. As I approached the large crowd I could already spot the large array of analogue cameras. I brought along my multi-format pinhole camera. I was soon informed that the photo walk had coincided with World Pinhole Photography Day, so a larger number of people than usual had turned up. I started chatting to a few different people before the group organiser made some announcements to the crowd about the days schedule. After a group photo, we headed out on the planned route, which would take us through Dublins financial district, over the River Liffey, and onto the Docklands. The sun was shining bright with low wind – perfect weather conditions for my pinhole photography.
It was exciting to be walking on a route I would not normally consider. As there was approximately thirty people walking, naturally the crowd quickly broke into smaller groups. The atmosphere amongst everyone was very friendly and positive. We would stop at different locations along the way, where conversations would continue or people would start taking photos. Quite a few people approached me and commented on my camera, admiring it and even posting photos of it on Instagram. I really enjoyed chatting about all things film photography related. I was particularly impressed with a guy who 3D printed his own stereo camera!.
Maybe my own multitasking needs improving, but I sometimes found it difficult to shoot and stay with the crowd at times. Not every location or scene will attract everyone and so different people, or myself, may want to keep walking or stay longer. I’m also not used to talking to people so much when out shooting. I found that my attention was divided between chatting and shooting. This however became a bit easier for me as the day progressed. I think the greatest factor in this was my choice of camera. Yes, it was World Pinhole Photograph Day, but my 35mm SLR would have suited me far better. With my pinhole camera, using a mini tripod, I had to lay it down on a flat surface – usually the ground, and compose carefully (with no viewfinder). Then I had to take out my phone and meter the light, etc. I did not even attempt to use any filters. I didn’t rush it, but I would usually take more time over it. It’s only now that I could see the benefits of shooting an SLR in this situation, perhaps in aperture priority mode.
I’m a big advocate of trying new ways of doing things you love. It’s healthy to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and to challenge yourself. It’s something I have been more aware of recently. Overall the photo walk was a fantastic day out, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone, and I look forward to hopefully doing it again soon.