I love just about all types of photography, but there is nothing like walking around a city with your camera to focus on whatever catches your eye. Many times, I have walked the streets of downtown Asheville to do just that. When I read that photographer David Simchock created a Meetup group called Vagabond Photo Walks - WNC, I was really interested. Last week, I planned to attend the next scheduled meetup for Wednesday, April 9th. I knew that this would be a great opportunity to talk with other photographers and walk the streets while photographing the city along the Urban Trail.
The other reason that I was interested in the walk, was the chance to meetup with event host David Simchock again. I first met David last year when my wife and I walked in to his studio during an Arts Stroll in the River Arts District in Asheville, North Carolina. David is an award winning concert photographer, a successful fine art photographer, and leads photographic tours all over the world with Vagabond Vistas Photo Tours. The first time we met, it was apparent that he is a very down to earth guy who not only loves photography, but truly enjoys sharing his knowledge with any photographer at any level.
After the meeting, I told my wife that it would be great to take one of his trips to Italy or even Manhattan. I would periodically check his calendar on his website to see if he was planning a tour closer to home. When I saw that David started a Meetup group locally and had a walk scheduled for April, I jumped on it.
I parked at the Ranking parking garage and hustled over to the meetup location. As I approached the Vance Monument, I could easily spot the group of fifteen to twenty people with cameras of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I joined them on a narrow sidewalk sandwiched between the street, and the iron fence protecting the Vance Memorial. Without delay, David (host) gave us important information about the Meetup group and filled us in on what we can expect over the next few hours on the Urban Trail.
Up until that day I didn't even know that there was an official Urban Trail. After looking at our printed maps that were issued to use we headed west on Patton Avenue. The mission was to stop at the landmarks along the trail. At each stop, our group was encouraged to photograph the landmarks and the surroundings in an interesting manner. Along the trail, Dave would share some philosophy on creative composition techniques as well as some universal street photography etiquette.
Our group was also encouraged to take notice of things that are not so obvious, by looking at shapes and patterns; to take the extra time to look around and think "outside of the box" for some interesting scenes. This made perfect sense. During the many walks that I have taken alone, I certainly have taken the standard downtown Asheville photographs of buildings and landmarks. This meetup was especially fun for me, because I did set out with this mindset.
Towards the end of the tour, David shared some tips on photographing people and things. One of the suggestions was to pick a color to look for, then find a way to capture it in an interesting way. For the next several minutes our color to look for was yellow.
This Meetup with Vagabond Photo Walks - WNC was very enjoyable to me. What made it so fun was the fact that I was walking with a group of photographers who were there for the enjoyment of downtown, taking pictures, and meeting others with an interest in photography. Being with a group of people made me less inhibited to point my lens at certain subjects. I felt free to venture into nooks and crannies that I would normally shy away from. Being hired to take pictures for portraits and events is different, because you are expected to take pictures of people and things. On the street, it is a whole different story.
The tour ended back at the Vance Memorial Monument and we had to say goodbye. Dave informed us that new Meetups will be posted on the site and that our input is welcome for future outings. If I have free time and know that there is another event with this group, I will certainly tag along. For me, photographing in this type of environment is very worthwhile and gets me inspired and excited about shooting. It is simply shooting for the pure fun of it. For more information about future events and how to join visit http://www.meetup.com/Vagabond-Photo-Walks-WNC/.
Oh yeah. I did take a couple more photographs on the way back to the parking garage...