On photo walks, friendships and not clicking the shutter

Last Sunday I helped lead a photowalk in Vancouver for Fujifilm Canada, our first one since November.  Spencer Wynn, one of my fellow Official Fuji X Photographers, has embarked on a cross country trip with the new GFX-50S medium format camera to celebrate both the launch of the camera and Canada’s 150th anniversary.  This walk was an opportunity for Vancouver based Fuji photographers to support the trip, chat with Spencer and get some hands on time with the new camera if they so desired.  I have long been a fan of Spencer’s work, so I was very excited to chat with him about this journey.  You can follow Spencer’s trip here:

gfxcanadianjournal.ca

… and view his main website here:

spencerwynn.com

When the group started gathering at the Vancouver Public Library, the weather was perfect:  the sky was blue, the sun was shining, early morning golden light was bouncing around the city creating beautiful pockets of light and shadow and it was warm by early spring standards.  Our Vancouver meet ups have been quite large in the past, but this one was intentionally kept low key to give people ample opportunity to try out the GFX and to ask questions.  It was great to see people I knew from previous photo walks and workshops, and also to finally meet people who I only knew through social media up until now.  Everyone chatted informally until my friend Gord Webster, one of the Official Fuji Guys, gave the high sign to kick off the walk.

We headed west on Robson street, paused to shoot around the Vancouver Art Gallery, then continued northwest until we reached the waterfront where there are commanding views of the Olympic Torch from the 2010 winter Olympics, of beautiful Coal Harbour and of the Vancouver Convention Centre / Canada Place.  Our walk took us from there through Gastown, into the western border of Chinatown and back to the library to wrap up.  Throughout the walk there were lively conversations, a lot of questions, shared experiences, discussions about future projects and occasionally, a photo or two was taken.  It was an enjoyable morning.

When we got back to the library someone asked me how many photographs I took during the walk.  My answer:  zero.  Ironically enough, it was also one of the most enjoyable group photo walks I have been on in a while.

That may sound strange, so let me explain…

A year ago I wrote an article about how photography almost ruined one of my vacations.  Go ahead and give it a quick read, I’ll wait:

https://ianmacdonaldphotography.com/2016/03/28/the-night-photography-almost-ruined-my-vacation-a-cautionary-tale/

That experience, amongst others, made me significantly re-think my approach to photography.  Artists can get pretty “intense” at times, and I truly believe that having an obsession with creating one compelling image after another runs the risk of preventing us from enjoying the process of our art, from spending time with like minded artists and from the pleasure that comes from a walk in a beautiful city on a sunny day.  If I was intensely focused on image acquisition during this walk, I would have missed out on so many other things.  The reality is that we can always find time to click the shutter, but there isn’t always time to talk with friends (both old and new).  To quote myself from the article linked above:

“I create art because it is fun, it is joyful, and because it brings pleasure to my life.  Being an artist is such a gift.  I create because I love the process.”

“I love the process”

This, completely, is how I chose to approach this photowalk.  I prioritized enjoying time with my peers on this beautiful morning over intensely looking for the next image.  It was the proverbial “slow down and smell the roses” approach.

After the walk I had lunch with some friends and then I went out to shoot on my own for a few hours.  I enjoyed the afternoon sunshine and made several frames that I really like (which I will share in a future blog post).  When I was done at the end of the day I drove home to have dinner with my girls.  As Charlie Sheen would say, it was all “win”.

It can’t be said enough:  happiness is a choice.  It can be so easy to focus on negativity;  our brains are actually predisposed to think that way, but it is much more rewarding to focus on whatever it is that brings us joy.  I know that I see better, and I shoot better, when I relax and enjoy the process of photography as much as I do the final product of it (the images).  This doesn’t just apply to my personal work either, my client work has also improved significantly since I adopted this approach.  Life is short… we should enjoy every damn minute of it and not get so wrapped up in ourselves that we miss out on the little things.  For me, on this day, that meant enjoying the company I was with first and then shooting a little for myself later.

Thank you to everyone who came out for the walk.  It was a great morning and I know a lot of you took some great images.  I encourage everyone to follow Spencer on his epic cross country journey, and to check out his GFX images that are both beautiful and inspirational.

Until next time!

Ian

8 thoughts on “On photo walks, friendships and not clicking the shutter

  1. Luis Curran says:

    Thank you. Ian, for another great article – as well as the one on your trip to Paris. Like you, I have found myself in that type of situation as well, emotions and all!
    It’s good that you had a successful photowalk. However, I was disappointed that I hadn’t heard of it beforehand. I only heard of it from someone who had been on the walk (he was the guy shooting with a Pentax (!) but he redeemed himself by wearing a Fujifilm toque). He told me he had read of the walk through Facebook. However, there are some of us who don’t use social media to any extent and so, therefore, are cut off from this type of information.
    I’ve been shooting with Fujifilm for several years now (XE 2 and XPro 2) and would really like to go on one of these photowalks. Is there some way to ensure that this type of event is more readily advertised? I realize you wish to keep the numbers down – perhaps even a lottery?
    In any case, I hope that I’ll have the opportunity of gong on the next one.
    Thanks for your ear! Happy shooting….

    • Ian says:

      Hello Luis!

      How are you?

      I can’t speak to how these events are advertised, however I do highly recommend following the @fujiguys twitter account and the Fujifilm Canada Facebook page as there is always current information posted there.

      Happy shooting to you too my friend!

      Cheers,

      Ian

  2. Allen says:

    Great blog post. Mirrors my experience over 10 years of street photography in Vancouver and while traveling. Sorry I didn’t make it out to this social photo event. Any suggestions for making sure I hear about future Fuji street events?

    Allen

    • Ian says:

      Hey Allen!

      Many thanks for your kind words. I highly suggest following the @fujiguys Twitter feed, and also the Fujifilm Cameras Facebook page.

      Best wishes,

      Ian

  3. JanTheMan Photography says:

    Well said my friend! All too often I have not spent the time to enjoy “being”! Thank you for the reminder. Driven as I am to make images, it has to be in a space of relaxation or the results are nil. You’ve brightened my day for sure! Here’s to shadows and light but friends first!

    Regards, Jan

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