Photowalking is a communal activity of camera enthusiasts who gather in a group to walk around with a camera for the main purpose of taking pictures of things that interests each photographer. Although the term implies the single activity of taking pictures while walking, the more modern use of the term specifically relates to a communal activity of camera enthusiasts.
The activity is typically organized by camera clubs, ad-hock gatherings from online forums such as Facebook or Twitter, or sponsored by commercial organizations. These events usually take the form form of a designated walking tour with a planned route or map. Often the aim is to practice and improve one's own photography skills rather than a specific focus on documentary photography.
While the camera need not be a digital camera or a DSLR, in practice the low cost of digital photography and the ease of digital photo processing and online photo sharing allow a casual approach in photowalking.
As with any walking that may go a few miles or kilometers, photowalking can also promote physical fitness.
Photowalks vs Street Photography
Photowalking is sometimes compared to street photography, a type of documentary photography activity. However, although a person participating in a photowalk may practice street photography, they are not limited to that scope; they may also practice Macro photography, Architectural photography, Nature photography, etc. Also, street photography is typically an activity practiced as an individual photographer rather than in a group.
The activity of walking and photographing with a group of other photographers dates back more than 100 years. An early example of photography clubs is The Camera Club of New York, established in 1884. The Eastman Kodak Company of New York launched the Brownie camera in 1900. The camera sold for $1 and put photography photography in the hands of the average consumer. As photography became part of our daily lives, photography clubs proliferated around the world to support this emerging technology.
However, the term photowalking, photowalk, or Photo Walk, is first seen in early 2000 in advertisements for group photography tours.
For most photography club enthusiasts, the term Photowalking was introduced in its current form once large photography organizations started using it to advertise events. A widely recognized example is the first Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk in the Summer of 2008. The term was then widely adopted by photography clubs and organizations to describe this specific type of event. Photowalking-specific clubs started to emerge around the globe, such as Vancouver Photowalks, Photowalk en Barcelona, and HoustonPhotowalks in Texas.
Social and cultural implications
Photowalkers (those who participate in photowalks) can rely on each other for technical suggestions and artistic inspiration. However, because it is so tightly coupled with the social aspect of group photography, photowalking can have benefits other than just exercise and photography practice. For example, in some situations, there is safety in numbers and the photography experience can be more enjoyable in a group.
Photowalks also encourage participants to conduct themselves in a responsible manner while in a group setting. Many members of the general public will view a person with a camera with great suspicion; the expectation is that only terrorists, spies, and sexual predators carry around a camera. A well-organized photowalk group is a photographic ambassador, an opportunity for the general public to see that photographers are not criminals.
Unfortunately, without tight controls and good organization, events can get out of control and in some cases involve the police.
To help grow the photowalk community, the organizer may also provide a location for viewing each other's images, or a meal or meet and greet once the photowalk is complete.
Many photowalk organizations also participate in fundraisers and charities, or donate money to the locations or museums they visit.
- The Who What Where When Why How of Doing a Photowalk - Digital Photography School
- Scott Kelby Photowalk
- 500px Global Photowalks
- Useful Tips for a Great Photowalk - Contrastly
- PhotowalkPro's Guide to Photowalking
- Global Physics Photowalk: Behind the scenes at the world’s laboratories
- Photowalk at Fermilab
- Fairbanks Museum Worldwide Photowalk Day
- Photowalk: Lone Star Flight Museum
- DPC Heritage Photowalk: Rail Museum - TimeOut Delhi
- The Camera Club of New York Website
- Kodak Heritage Milestones
- New Jersey Photographers Guide
- HoustonPhotowalks - Why We Walk
- Police mistake photowalk for rave
- HoustonPhotowalks - Why We Walk