A long time ago - we're talking pre-Covid - I was going to make a blog post about planning for a photo walk. I have been to so many, and definitely have learned a few things from my bad decision-making. Since the pandemic, hardly anyone is going on group photo walks, but one of the groups I follow on Instagram (@beerandcameras_la) were doing a reservation only meet-up in Hermosa Beach, and I took this opportunity to go out and shoot somewhere I'd never been before (yes, I've never been to Hermosa Beach) and also finally write this post! In an effort to plan for this blog post, I came up with four tips to help make the photo walk the best it can be. Here they are with my commentary on how well I followed my own advice. 😀
1) Pick three things to focus on for your photo walk. It doesn't really have to be three. The whole idea is just to have a plan on what you'd like to capture. Is it people? Candid shots? Macros of stuff? Plants? I always feel like if I have some idea of what I'd like to come away with, I could always rely on the focus items to fall back on if I drew a blank. I really wanted to focus on people shots for this meet-up.
2) Limit the number of lenses you bring. I love this tip, and I try to do this every time I go out and shoot. In the past, I've brought just about everything I own, and the end result is not only confusion on what I should use, but also some back pain from carrying around so much gear all day. I recommend anywhere from 2-3 lenses. For this meet-up, I had my Fuji X100V which has a 35mm fixed lens, and I also brought my Canon EOS 1N with a 40mm pancake lens. I really wanted to travel light, and I'm glad I did. I didn't take very many shots on the 1N since it was film and I was trying to be more selective on what I wanted to shoot with it. Final count - Fuji X100V: 140 shots, Canon EOS 1N: 3 shots 😂
3) Research the area on Google or Instagram prior to the photo walk. I normally do this every time when I go out and take photos somewhere I haven't been before. Sadly, I did no research for this because I didn't have the time to. I do find that doing this research helps though. Sometimes I'll look at the street view on Google maps to see what's around the area. This helps to narrow down my lens choices if I know what to expect, so I don't end up bringing a lens I have no use for. They say immitation is the best form of flattery. Well, that's what I use Instagram for. There are tons of amazing photographers on Instagram, and chances are, they've been to the spot you're going to. It's a great way to get ideas, or to just see how someone else shot a scene, and perhaps you can even come up with a different take on it. I love looking at other people's photos and til this day, it's still what I find most inspiring and motivates me to go out and shoot.
4) Use a comfortable camera bag and wear comfortable shoes. Back in the days of meet-ups on Flickr, I notoriously wore the most uncomfortable shoes to photo walks. I've also bought just about every popular camera backpack there is to buy on the market, and by now I should know what's comfortable. These two things - your choice of bag and shoes - can make or break your photo walk. If you're uncomfortable or in pain, you are less likely to want to take photos. For this meet-up, I crammed everything into my Peak Design 5L sling bag. It's lightweight, and barely fit everything. They don't make this bag anymore, but they do make a 6L sling that's a little bigger. My shoes of choice were flip flops because it's the beach, and you have to anticipate sand.
Not knowing the area very well, I ended up parking in a 2 hour zone, and while we waited for others to arrive, I had a little over an hour to take photos. I didn't know anyone at this meet-up, which is a very strange feeling to have after having gone to so many other photo meet-ups in the past. It was nice not to be in charge of planning anything though, and just kind of do my own thing. Here are some of the photos from my X100V. One day, I'll develop that film on the 1N and be reminded of this! 😄
There were a good amount of people out. Hermosa Beach has people enforcing the mask rule. For the most part, I think people were just happy to see blue skies after all the smoke from the fires recently.
These two were going at it for a while! It drew a small crowd.