Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Photo Walk

A "photo walk" is an exercise photographers use to improve their skills by looking for pictures to take while walking around the neighborhood, any neighborhood will do. The idea is to simply photograph whatever you find interesting, exploring your style and improving your eye by examining the everyday for hidden beauty, extracting art from the mundane (and of course practice composition, exposure, technical camera operation, etc). In a sense, it is just a walk, albeit while holding a camera, perhaps looking around more than usual, watching the light, the people, thinking visually, looking for interesting things, interacting with the world in a semi-passive way. Sometimes you get a good picture but more often you don't. It can seem frustrating, spending time ostensibly in the craft of visual arts with nothing to show for it, but you have to look at this as an educational pursuit, instructional, letting your surroundings teach you. If your photo walk yields a good picture, great, but that's not the point. What did you get from this that isn't a photo? It's an exercise. An exercise in walking and and exercise in seeing, so if you're stronger and healthier it's served its purpose. From that point of view, the more mundane and uninteresting the walk, the better.

I feel like I've reached a plateau in my photography skills. The first year was one of constant improvement. The second, a hunt for new skills and exercises. Now everything is starting to look... the same. Part of learning is reaching plateaus, getting stuck and unsticking yourself, searching for a way out, breaking through.

So I take a walk.


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