Thursday, 8 March 2012

Planning a photo-walk

Are you planning a photo-walk in the near future? If so you are well advised to think through several points to help make the day as enjoyable and stress free as possible for everyone. To help in your planning process I have put together the following general outline of things to consider. This is not meant to be a definitive list, rather a starting point for your planning process.

General Planning considerations:

1. Date for the walk.
Agree a date for the walk. It really is essential that this is disclosed early on to the anticipated audience as people are more likely to agree to come along if they can plan the walk in their diaries. People are busy working, attending family gatherings etc. so pick a date and announce it early on in your planning.

2. Place to walk.
You should expand your location beyond simply saying “London” or “New York” . People like to know a little more detail than simply the name of the general location. Believe me, you will probably be glad you did too. There is nothing worse than wandering around on the day, saying “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”. So get a general route plan agreed before hand. It doesn’t have to be too prescriptive and you will certainly need to allow time for some deviation in case of inclement weather or other bad luck.

3. Place to meet.
You need to find the location you wish to visit, and remember to think through who else might be coming along with you.

Pick a meeting place to start the walk, and be aware of things like parking restrictions so people can plan to car share or know how far they may have to walk to the meetup point.

Starting time - allow 15mins or so from the planned start time before you move off to allow for late comers to arrive.

4. Itinerary.
Prior research on the route is important, what to see and what kind of happenings and events are due in and around the planned route.  If you need to be aware of local high and low tides make sure you research them well in advance.

5. Ending Location and finish time
People will need to know the planned finish time of the walk. Also, if people drift off during the walk what time should they get back to the end point, or how should they contact one of the ‘leaders’ to let them know they are finishing early.

Are you planning on discussing your walk at the end of the day, or are you just saying your goodbyes and going your seperate ways? Some people plan things like downloading images and initial post processing. If you are planning on this, where will you do it and how long do you envisage it taking?
Is there a topic for the day? Some people may prefer to have a general theme for the day as it gives them ideas for taking images.

What are you planning on doing with the images? Do you want to share them as a group? If so you might wish to agree an online location such as Flickr or if you are using Google+ you might suggest they all tag the images in some way so that they can see the other participants images as well as share their own.

Checklist for scheduling the meetup
  • General arrangements
    • How big is the group likely to be?
    • Do you need to set a limit on numbers?
    • Is the route suitable for people with a disability and if so what are the available disabled facilities?
    • Is there a cost for attending the walk? Perhaps you are planning on giving some tutorial input to the attendees during the day.
  • Agree meeting arrangements
    • How will they know you - “I am the big guy with a Blue Ford Reg No.”etc.
    • Give them your mobile number so people can let you know they may be late, or phone if they get lost.
    • Are there adequate parking facilities?
    • Are the parking facilities time limited? - nothing will disappoint more than finishing the walk and then finding the car park closed for the night with someones car still inside!
    • Are parking fees required or should people prepare to car share?
    • Give them all a Google map location or post code for the meeting point
  • Planned route
    • What is the planned route - have a general plan for the day and if possible give everyone an copy of the general route.
    • What is the length of the planned photo-walk - in distance or time or both.
    • What are the available Toilet arrangements on the route.
    • Are there any eating facilities?
    • Do attendees need any special clothing or footwear?
    • If you are visiting a location off the mainland and accessable only at low tide, do you know the tidal times?
    • Are there any events planned in the vicinity of the walk? If so there might be some interesting shots available!
  • Do you plan to visit any locations which have entry restrictions such as a National Monuments or historic houses?
    • Is there a cost of entry? If so can you arrange group rate discounts for entry?
    • Is photography allowed?
    • Do they have disabled facilities?
  • Meeting after the walk?
    • Where will you meet?
    • Anticipated finishing time for the walk.
 On the Day
  • Arrive early at the meetup location to allow for traffic and other delays.
  • Bring an attendance sheet to check off numbers so you know if you’re missing anyone before you set out.
  • Greet members as they arrive, particularly new members.
  • They generally have questions, and some may not have any expectation of what lies ahead for them so they may need a little extra time and attention.
  • Be prepared to answer any questions about the photo-walk itself before you set off.
  • Once the meetup start time arrives welcome everyone and briefly describe how the photo-walk will proceed.
  • Make sure everyone knows the anticipated finish time.
  • Make sure everyone knows the general route and know what to do if they get lost.
As an example of prior planning, here is an initial photo-walk brief from my good friend Ger Hughes which he drew up whilst we were planning a recent photo-walk on a small island off Anglesey:
  • SatNav: Post code for Newborough Post Office is LL61 6TA then follow signs for"Llys Rhosyr" or "Llanddwyn Beach" This is a toll road so you'll need £4 (I think) in coins for unattended slot machine(car share?).
  • The tip of Llanddwyn island is approx 1.5 miles from car park over uneven ground and sand.
  • There are toilets in the car park but none on Llanddwyn Island.
  • There is a small chance of getting wet when getting off the island (if staying for sunset) due to tide times so bring spare socks, shoes and trousers. Also if staying for unset a torch may be handy!
  • Don't forget your tripods for sunsets!
  • The Island is exposed - need to dress for cold, wind and rain (and cross fingers for sunshine) and maybe think of rain protection for your camera and bags.
  • Not many places to sit down so a plastic bag or two will save you getting a wet bottom if you need to take the weight off your feet.
  • No refreshments available beyond Newborough - bring packed lunch or stock up int he small store opposite post office prior to setting off.
In addition he also gave some other useful information:

Daily Image
Llanddwyn island is not quite an island as it is only cut off from the mainland at high tide, Llanddwyn island is part of the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve on Anglesey in North Wales.

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