No, we weren’t going to photograph the Pier (everyone does that) and when I suggested doing the sunset from the top of the nearby hotel, she said no. “All we would get is a shot of the parking lot,” she said.
Instead, we walked left from the pier, about a mile, and ended up at a butterfly preserve that happened to have really nice trees. A spot she knew, but I didn’t. From this vantage point, we would photograph the sunset that way, through the branches.
And yes, the shot was amazing.
Had I not reached out and invited her on the shoot, I probably wouldn’t have been hip to the location. This was just another of the many reasons it pays to team up with others and go out on fun shoots. You see more things and the world looks better with four eyes.
On this same shoot, I showed Amy some of my favorite photo tricks—like how to take a selfie using the iPhone timer at 10 seconds, which gives us more time to compose the shot.
Now granted, I have a series on YouTube called PhotowalksTV, which is all about bringing viewers with me to great places in search of the best photo spots. And I usually team up with other photographers on the show. So I had motivation to call Amy.
But what I hope I’m showing off in the series is what happens when you do reach out. You can see the results on the screen.
Let’s take a traditional photowalk. Recently, a bunch of us met in the wild Venice Beach area of Los Angeles and we walked up and down Ocean Front Walk searching for great photo material. When we got to Muscle Beach, an outdoor facility where people (most notably the actor/former politician Arnold Schwarzenegger) have been working out for years, we took photos of them doing their thing. Namely, lifting weights.
That is, until Leticia did what we’re always supposed to do in street photography. She made the photo by asking one of the muscle men to flex a bit for us. Which he happily did. He came alive and we all rushed in to participate.
Had a bunch of us not gotten together, and one person had walked up to him requesting a pose, maybe he would have said yes. But as part of a group, it certainly made it easier, and less threatening for him to respond positively.
I’ve seen this happen again and again on a photowalk.
So how to participate and join the party?
Put together your own photowalk in your area. Photographers are all over Instagram. Reach out via DMs or follows and invite them on a weekend morning walk.
As I have discovered in both producing the series and leading photowalk events all over, people love getting invites and having places to go in groups again. (People will always say yes more than no. Try it. You’ll see!)
On the series, I have to deal with initial worries of stage fright and level of comfort for being on camera, which most people get over. Still my success ratio of acceptance is pretty high. (If you’re in California and want to join me, please reach out!)
And for the organized walks, I’ve seen the joy on people’s faces on just being out again, and how they love being with like-minded people, enjoying the beauty that is our world, and sharing their vision of it together.
I have so many new friends all over the world by both meeting them for the series and joining them for photowalk events. From Jose Manuel Santos in Porto, Portugal, Karin Carr in Savannah, Georgia and Manny Espinoza in the upcoming Carmel-by-the-sea, California episode, to Leticia, Debbie, Evelyn, Lenny and all the others who have joined me on the live walks, it’s great to meet new people and see the world through their eyes.
Give it a try!
About the Author
Jefferson Graham is a Los Angeles-based writer-photographer, the host of the “Photowalks” travel photography series on YouTube, and co-host of the iPhone Photo Show podcast, a former USA TODAY tech columnist and working photographer. You can find more of Jeff’s work on his website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.