With warnings of increased mental problems in the wake of COVID-19, experts suggest that using time constructively and/or creatively is key to navigating through feelings of anxiety and depression… “expressive art is a tool to explore, develop and practice creativity as a means to wellness,” and photography is an easily accessible art form…
And when combined with walking it can be a portal to escape life’s hassles. For my part, I’ve walked through rural and urban environments with a camera for the past 45 years, and over that time have come to realise it’s a kind of relaxed state of observation during which the mind tunes in to the surroundings. A combination of focusing and meditating.
Jay Maisel, mentioned in my tutorial, Learning to See Part 1, arrived at a similar conclusion. “I’m open to whatever’s out there because I have no agenda. The joy of going out and not knowing what you’re gonna shoot is a wonderful adventure,” and went on to produce colourful, graphic and beautiful photographs just by watching and walking. It’s an approach in which there’s no pre-imagined outcome, whatever’s encountered en route, if anything, is the end game.
Photo-walks lend themselves to street photography, landscape photography, documentary photography, or a combination of all three genres. Some photographers concentrate on capturing the moment, a pure record of the subject, others prefer to operate more creatively.
Whatever, one important aspect of the casual photo-walk is to feel comfortable. Carrying lots of heavy gear isn’t necessary and inhibits spontaneity. Not to mention a sweaty back from a clinging back pack or aching neck from shoulder bags. My modus operandi has always been “less is more” with a minimalist approach using a waist bag to facilitate immediate access to my camera. And more often than not these days, just a smart phone, as used for the gallery images below…
Mention of minimalism is a reminder that “minimalist photography” can also be added to the photo-walk genres mentioned above. It’s a subject I’ve covered in a tutorial, but in essence it’s a thoughtful style of photography, often featuring the un-noticed subjects that are all around us. It emphasises simplicity in composition to tell the story with as few elements as possible.
In conclusion, it’s important to note that photography walks aren’t just about making and taking pictures, they also serve to open your eyes to the world around you. Even if you return with no images it improves fitness and with the fresh air, a pervading lightness of mood. It’s a win, win situation.