I had a realization the other day when I went out on 2 photo walks, the first around my neighbourhood and the second to a spot I love to take photos at.
The first only covered a few blocks of my neighbourhood. Slowly I wandered around capturing whatever I found in front of me. Sometimes it was a flower or something growing, other times an unexpected cat crossing my path or the way the light looked. It felt good to take a street I hadn’t taken before and see a beautiful mural written on a schoolyard.
The second photo walk was actually a photo bike ride. I wanted to take a break from my computer and knew the bright sunshine wasn’t scheduled to last so I took off for one of my favourite places to take photos, this little island in the middle of the city. I had a lovely ride, feeling alive and having lots of space to clear my thoughts. I arrived at the island and immediately felt frustrated as it was lunch hour and was jam packed with people. My master plan of shooting selfies in this spot was thwarted as every spot on this island seemed to have someone sitting there (maybe next time I won’t go at lunch time). I felt frustrated that I couldn’t create what I had imagined I would.
Then it hit me why the act of taking a photo walk feels so vital both to my creative process.
Its because it is unknown.
It takes you on a journey. It invites you not to just go to one spot and try to get a photo, which for me often leads to a feeling of success or failure. But instead it invites you into a process. Of noticing light and shadow, of seeking out spots, of being okay with moving on if a dog starts barking at you or you don’t feel comfortable. You just move on and see what else you can find.
Photowalks shift my creative energy from big expectations to embracing the unexpected.
I hadn’t realized it in that way before, that if I can take the creative process out of a success or failure mode. Out of being determined to capture one specific image and being open to creating the image that I find.