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 responses to “The pleasure of the aimless photowalk”

  1. Dan James Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was a matter of getting the right lens. I read somewhere that Pentax DSLRs really do best with DA lenses; the older film-era FA lenses not so much. So I bought what would have been the kit lens for this camera and it working well.

      1. Dan James Avatar

        If you’re ever looking for another 35mm prime, try the DA 35/2.4. Cheap, small, light, manual or AF, pretty fast at f/2.4 and punches way above its weight in terms of performance. Easy to see why it gets its “plastic fantastic” nickname.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Perhaps one day! Or I can just shoot my 35mm Pentax-M on the thing.

        2. Dan James Avatar

          Yeh but you were saying you’d read the DA lenses were the best to use on a DSLR, so I was following that line of thought… : )

  2. Reinhold Graf Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes! It’s all about the experience and the joy and the satisfaction.

  3. ollithomson Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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 Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There’s a great group of Indianapolis Instagrammers who do that. If I did Instagram digitally I might join them!

  5. Sam Avatar

    Aimless walks are the best!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar


  6. Photography Journal Blog Avatar

    I love going on little walks like this.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Me too. My only anxiety is being stopped and asked what I’m doing. I wish I could wear a cloak of invisibility.

      1. Photography Journal Blog Avatar

        Yes, I agree with you on that!

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