The pleasure of the aimless photowalk

It’s easy as a hobbyist photographer to get caught up in feeling like we need to make art, or at least to be constantly improving our work.

Old Town Carmel

If you have those feelings, as I do, it’s easy to forget why we got into this in the first place. We liked the gear and wanted to see how it worked. Or we enjoyed the experience of going out and simply photographing whatever caught our fancy.

Old Town Carmel

There is real pleasure in shooting: the noticing, the composing, the capturing. Not only is there nothing wrong with pursuing that pleasure — there’s everything right about it. The aimless photowalk is a fine way to spend some time.

Old Town Carmel

An aimless photowalk frees you to experiment and try things in your photography. Or shoot the same kinds of photos you always shoot, because they make you happy or bring you comfort. Or visit a place that otherwise you’d have little purpose to see, as I did this morning through downtown Carmel, Indiana.

Pentax K10D, 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax-DA AL


16 thoughts on “The pleasure of the aimless photowalk

  1. Excellent points Jim, sometimes the best thing about cameras is they give us the motivation to get and explore, get some fresh air and exercise, and see tiny snippets of interest and beauty that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

    PS/ Glad to see you using the K10D again.

  2. I agree.

    Having a camera with me is usually not due to a ‘project’. It’s for the pure pleasure photography gives to me. Handling a piece of gear (not always the same), trying to do things right (sometimes more, sometimes less), getting one image (or more) which might find it’s way into my yearly photo-calendar. Beeing satisfied and heading out for the next round.

  3. I agree entirely. Most of my photography is a result of casual wandering around. Finding the unexpected on a long walk and getting a decent picture is a joy. I read an interview with Michael Kenna who said something similar in regard to his photography:

    “Essentially I walk, explore and photograph. I never know whether I will be there minutes, hours or days. For me, approaching subject matter to photograph is a bit like meeting a person and beginning a conversation. How does one know ahead of time where that will lead? Certainly, a sense of curiosity and a willingness to be patient to allow the subject matter to reveal itself are important elements in this process. There have been many occasions when interesting images have appeared from what I had considered uninteresting places. The reverse is equally as true and relevant. One needs to fully accept that surprises happen.”

    I thought this was a great approach.

    • What a great quote from Kenna! I’ve long thought I’ve “learned to see” thanks to my cameras and going on photo walks. Kenna likening this to a conversation is a better way to frame it.

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    This is something I do most Thursday nights during the summer with my camera club, we pick a venue and turn up and just amble around for a few hours to see if there is anything interesting to photograph, and afterwards we go to the local pub and have a drink and a chat a most enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

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