If you’re a photography enthusiast, professional photographer or a hobbyist, you may have heard of a photo walk. Well, I’d never heard of one until about two weeks ago when I saw an announcement for a photowalk happening in Abuja. Organised by @Wakasnapng, a community of photographers, the photowalk took place on Saturday, 13th October.
What was it like? It was fun.
What is a photowalk?
Often a group affair, a photowalk is an activity where photographers go on a planned or unplanned route to a predetermined or unplanned destination, taking pictures along the way. If in a group, photographers are free to take pictures of whatever they like, but may have a guiding theme. Meanwhile, many photographers go on solo photowalks and so can you.
My first time photowalking
Being the boring, perpetually indoors semi-recluse that I am, I hardly ever engage in social activities, so when I saw one that involved an activity I truly enjoy, I decided to give it a shot. By 7:05, I was at the meet-up point and in normal Nigerian fashion, the few of us who were there had to wait a while for others to arrive, but we were all on our way within the hour.
The theme for the photowalk was documentary photography, christened ‘The Idu Mission’. We were going to photograph a Fulani community in Idu. Before we even got there, I was already getting nervous about having to photograph people. Taking pictures of strangers just isn’t my thing, but I was willing to give it a shot.
When we arrived, our guide announced that we would be split into groups and were free to explore as much as we wanted to. He had been photographing the community for a while, so it would be easy for us, especially since the locals were very receptive and sometimes even eager to be photographed.
Off I went with a group in search of a river we weren’t sure would be there. Through the cornfields we went, past the resting, smelly cows, making our way through thick vegetation and crossing over gulleys left by erosion until we arrived at a clearing with low grass where the river was supposed to have been. There may have been no river, but there was a watering hole where a few ladies were doing laundry and tiny gulleys with water flowing here and there where we assumed the locals must have been drinking from.
Here, we found a Fulani man with one bad eye and a group of boys who were more than eager to have their photos taken. After spending several minutes here with my group, only managing to take one good photo myself, we continued into the settlement where I took most of my photos.
The people were amazing of course, but I was more attracted to the bright yellows of the corn and how pleasing they were to look at.
I could hardly tear my eyes away from the rich brown roofs of the huts, with their dazzling patterns and textures.
Subconsciously, I separated myself from the group, trying my best to look at everything I saw from as many different angles as I could. A few people who saw me as I took pictures thought I would take very different pictures from everyone else. They were right.
When the appointed time for everyone to return to the meeting point came, we left to join the others. There was more picture taking, fura tasting and a bit of chitchat. I was happy to meet new people, but in usual Korede fashion, I was politely withdrawn, engaging in friendly chatter every now and then.
Biggest takeaways from the photowalk
1. If you’ll be shooting a community, I suggest having some sort of rapport with the locals. To take good documentary photos in a community, your subjects have to be willing and happy to have you do it. It would be terrible to randomly walk into any community and expect the locals to be happy to have a stranger click away at them.
2. There’s nothing quite like doing you. Whether you’re going on a photowalk with a community or going by yourself, don’t hesitate to go your own way and take pictures of whatever you want to take pictures of. Sticking with a theme can be a good challenge, but ultimately, do what feels like you.
3. You can take amazing pictures with your phone. I knew Dr. Khalidz was fantastic with the whole phone photography thing, but I didn’t know I could pull it off as well. My pictures aren’t as great as he is, but I don’t think they were terrible. I didn’t want to deal with the bulk of my camera, so I decided to take my iPhone 6. Because of this decision, I learned I could manipulate my phone’s camera with such things like ISO, exposure, focus and more using the VSCO app.
In conclusion, I’ll say you should definitely go on a photowalk one of these days. You could go on your own, but I’d recommend going with a group whenever you can.
Find below some of my favorite pictures from the photowalk. They’re from Instagram and I’ve included the handles of the photographers, so you can follow them. There were other pictures I loved, but couldn’t find on Instagram.
Have you been on a photowalk before? What was it like? Would you like to go on one sometime soon? Which of these pictures do you like best?