If you're an avid photographer, you've probably had to rein in your enthusiasm for the craft at times. After all, friends and family members may not share your obsession, particularly when you spend an entire vacation squinting through a viewfinder or at an LCD.
But on photo walks, the focus is unabashedly on taking pictures. Shutterbugs join forces to compare photos, cameras and techniques while walking together through some interesting place for a half-day or so. Whether you take a point-and-shoot or a professional DSLR, it's an opportunity to broaden your skills and meet like-minded snappers usually for free. Better still, it's a great way for travelers to meet knowledgeable locals and get a close-up look at parts of a destination they might otherwise miss.
Such walks are gaining popularity, if attendance at the annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk is any guide (worldwidephotowalk.com). In July, the loosely organized global event saw more than 33,000 photographers joining photo walks in over 1,100 cities. But why wait for it to roll around again? Many cities have regular photo walks and finding one can be as simple as Googling photo walk with a location name, or doing a similar search on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Meetup.com. Here are a few groups we like.
London Photographic Meetup Group
Photo walkers from this group, founded about four years ago and now with over 2,500 members, often meet at a train station and venture outside the city together. In the summer, trips were organized to historic places such as Rye (think cobbled streets, Tudor houses and windswept beaches) and Arundel (which boasts a Gothic castle with a photogenic rose garden). Within London, snappers have pulled all-nighters, like a summer-solstice jaunt that lasted from 9:20 p.m. (the time of the late sunset) until sunrise. See lpmg.org.uk.
Singapore Digital Photography Meetup Group
Undeterred by the heat and humidity, members of this 600-plus group regularly trek around the city's traditional and modern locales. Earlier this year, a group shot pics around the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India during the annual Hindu festival Thaipusam. On a recent evening stroll of Marina Bay, 35 snappers strove to capture the futuristic outlines of the Helix Bridge, glowing neon blue in front of the sleek new Marina Bay Sands hotel. Learn about upcoming walks at meetup.com/digcam-224.
Hyderabad Weekend Shoots (Team HWS)
This group in Hyderabad, India, has walks (usually on Sundays) setting off to the botanical gardens, ancient citadels and other points of the city and its surrounds. But it isn't just about pretty pictures. A few dozen members recently joined forces to photograph the increasingly polluted state of the city's otherwise beautiful Hussain Sagar lake, contributing to an awareness-raising campaign even as they improved their skills and shared a hobby. See flickr.com/groups/hyderabadweekendshoots.
New York City Digital Photography Meetup Group
With over 3,000 members, this group produces plenty of walks around one of the world's most photographable cities. Previous walks have been over the Brooklyn Bridge, through Manhattan's Chinatown and around the East Village. One of the more popular recent walks was along the High Line, a park on Manhattan's West Side that opened last year offering elevated green space and interesting street views. Visit meetup.com/nycphotography.
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