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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

The Art of the Photowalk

Photowalks are such a great way to get out of the car and see what the world really looks like. You just notice things when your camera eye is open, that you don’t at other times. Like big and little details, crazy signs, unusual buildings and people (hello street photographers) that seem way more interesting than when you’re soaring past them at 20 or 30 mph.

For instance, my no. 1 rule of great photography is that timing is everything. Had I not been down at the Manhattan Beach Pier really early, like before the sun rose, I wouldn't have seen the clouds or the purple hue over the water.

I have visited the city of Orange, California (5 miles from Disneyland) many times, and love the nostalgic feel, antique stores, vintage cars and old-time Grand Circle in the heart of the town. But it wasn’t until I met up with another photographer, Jan Schrieber for our Photowalk and we started exploring together, with our cameras by our sides, that we began to realize a trend. “Everything’s orange,” Jan said, at lunch. The street signs. The fire hydrants. The chairs at local restaurants.

This neither of us had noticed in our drive-bys and it gave us a theme to have fun with.

And as I note in the above video, when you get other photographers with you, instead of just your two eyes, you’ve got several of them to work from. The enthusiasm is infectious and it just makes for a great day. Plus, having that new or old friend by your side produces a way more lively lunch break.

For the past several years, I’ve been producing a series of travel photography videos for called Photowalks where I aim to bring the viewer to great places and show them around, through my eyes and others.

I’ve taken folks to some pretty great spots--everywhere from Portugal and Hawaii to Savannah, Georgia and California beach cities like Laguna Beach.

The Riverside, California episode featured my friend Steve Brazill, who brought me to his favorite alley in downtown to shoot rock portraits (with my trusty Fender Telecaster by my side) and I dragged him to the craziest Mexican restaurant ever, Tio Taco’s a fountain of exotic street art and kitsch that it just mega eye candy to us with cameras. Steve thought we’d be there an hour. We couldn’t stop shooting. The advantage of doubling up.

I love this shot of the two of us, taken by our friend and fellow Photowalker Scott Heath, walking down Mt. Rubidoux at the end of our Photowalking day. It pretty much sums up how cool being on a Photowalk is.

Photowalk tips

Do your research before you get to town. Check out Instagram, Flickr and other sites to look at other photos of the spots you hope to photograph. Use what’s existing as inspiration and a guide to see what your timing should be.

Using Google to location scout won’t substitute the real thing, but it will give you a leg up.

Once you figure out the spots, open Google Maps and type in your dream walk, using the feature that lets you work with multiple locations. This will give you a good idea for just what’s in store. A 2 mile walk through town? A ten mile grand adventure that will also include some driving?

How to organize a Photowalk

Do a simple Google search for YOUR AREA Photowalk and Google will show you several scheduled local events, through the Meetup website. Or just simply call some photo friends and ask them to join you, or verbally, or by throwing the suggestion out on social media.

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Oct 14, 2021

Excellent work, Jefferson! Several really good tips for photographers who "zoom with their feet" and try to frame their shots well before the shutter clicks. So, in case my work will help others, I'm hoping that as many as possible will be able to gain benefit from the numerous photo safaris I've been privileged to lead on multiple continents. My free ebook, "Leading Your Own Photo Safari" has been downloaded >75,000 times; thus it is available free to any of your readers if only they will send me an email asking for the PDF file. Send email to -- Dr. Larry S. Anderson • Tupelo, MS (birthplace of Elvis)

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