Best Photography Project Idea Ever: Walkabout

If you’re looking for a simple, fun, and inspiring photo project, do what the Australian Aborigines did: walk the earth (with your camera).

In the past, they went on a roaming journey of up to six months. It wasn’t just about walking though, it was considered a spiritual rite of passage into manhood.

A photo walkabout is the best photo project ever because it offers the highest amount of enjoyment with the least amount of requirements. All you need is a camera and 5 minutes.

And if you’re feeling uninspired, I can almost guarantee you’ll get your mojo back after a short outing.

Here are a few of my walkabout tips, along with some photos from a recent walkabout around Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia.

Photo Walkabout Benefits

In her book, The Artists Way, Julia Cameron suggests going on what she calls Artist Dates – time you set aside to play with your inner artist child and fill your creative well.

Photo Walkabouts are like a rite of passage too. In a sense, you’re making a commitment to photography, to honor the artist in you, to live a life of creativity.

So let go of perfectionism. Say goodbye to procrastination. Grab your camera. And go create.

Photography Walkabout Tips

The concept is stupid simple. Get your camera, any camera, set a time, and then walk out your front door.

I prefer to use my phone’s camera. It takes the stress away from trying to be perfect. The simplicity of having one lens and one button keeps me out of my head into the flow.

As for how long, it doesn’t matter. 5 minutes is OK. 5 hours is OK. The most important thing is that you don’t set too long of a time that it feels like a burden. Some of my best walks have been just 10-20 minutes. It’s enough get me in a walking-meditation-like-state.

It really doesn’t matter where you go. Again, the important thing is to keep it simple. If you have to drive 3 hours or fly to Africa for your Walkabout, chances are you’ll blow it off.

Going to exotic locations can be exciting, but there are also benefits in staying close to home. Is there a street near your home you’ve never been down, a part of your city you’ve always wanted to explore, or a trail in the woods you’d like to revisit? You don’t have to see a new place to be inspired, you just have to feel where you are and click.

Having Fun is #1

Should your walkabout have a theme? That’s up to you. Sometimes I enjoy the total freedom to shoot whatever I want.

Other times I pick something to focus on like architecture, portraits of strangers, documenting my walk as if it were a story, colors, patterns, small things, big thing, or nature. The list is endless. As I walk, a theme often pops into my head and then I just roll with it.

Whatever you do, don’t listen to your “shoulds”, follow your “wants”. If a voice in your head says, “That’s interesting.” Shoot it.

Don’t worry if the exposure is correct, focus is off, or composition is dull. Let go of perfectionism. Put your inner-critic on mute.

Now crank up your ‘Play’ dial. Grab your camera. And roam where your artist child takes you.

Do you take photowalks? Why or why not? How do you structure them? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Author: Pete DeMarco

Pete DeMarco is an award-winning travel photographer. His passion for helping people transform their photography shows through in the expert advice he shares. His work has been featured in National Geographic Traveler, CNN, and as a staff writer for Digital Photography School.