Photo Walk: Discover Your Neighborhood

Photo walk, seeing anew

How long have you lived in your current neighborhood? A few months, a few years, or decades? When was the last time you really saw the place that you live? Most of us spend the first few months in a new place very curious. We’re easily lost, we’re constantly looking for new things (where’s the grocery store, what’s the best restaurant, where’s the park). But by the time we’ve lived somewhere for very long at all it’s as if we stop seeing the place. We become so familiar with our own neighborhoods that they might as well not exist. Enter the neighborhood photo walk.

Play Tourist

I’ve got a quick, easy activity for you that you can do today no matter what. It takes just a few minutes (though it can take hours if you want) and it will help you see with new eyes. A photo walk is pretty simple, you grab a camera (your phone camera is great) and you walk. Simple as that. But instead of going somewhere that you think will lead to good pictures, or that’s pretty, or special, I want you to stay home. To be more specific, I want you to stay close to home for this photo walk. The weather has been pretty miserable in my neck of the woods, worse than usual. But today was forecast to be sunny and 70! You can imagine my excitement when I opened my eyes this morning, and then my disappointment when I looked out the window. As it has been for weeks, the weather was chilly, foggy, and raining.

Anytime, anywhere

But I have a dog, and that dog needed walking. So I put on my waterproof hiking boots, my rain coat, and my cell phone and off we tromped through the wet. Dogs don’t care one bit about rain so she bounced along happily, sniffing everything. And I started to notice things. Pretty soon I was stopping as much as she was to snap a picture of a dewy blossom or a patch of moss. And by the end of the walk I was smiling. I wasn’t minding the wet at all anymore, and I saw my pretty normal neighborhood through new eyes.

Beauty Scavenger Hunt

A photo walk is basically a scavenger hunt for beauty. There is beauty to be found everywhere, but we tend to be too busy, too distracted, or too familiar to see it. It could be the riot of colors in graffiti on the neighborhood market, or a dandelion pushing its way up through a crack in the pavement, or the way raindrops hang on bits of moss. The beauty of our world is as varied as the places we live. From wide open fields to the pleasing symmetry of a tall building filled with neat glass windows. The key is training our eyes to see.

Look like a photographer

No, I don’t mean dress like one. I mean use your eyes like one. Look for patterns and texture, look for colors or shapes. Notice reflections, or people. You will find beauty in unique ways that no one else can see, and you have the opportunity to train your eye, to become better at seeing the beauty of the world around you. You can even share that beauty.

Do it!

Here’s the challenge. Get outside, jog or walk or cycle or whatever it is your can do. Even if all you can do is get out on your front stoop and look around. Find at least one thing, one thing, that you want to share with others. One thing that no one else in the world can share. When you were a child you wouldn’t have hesitated to shout “look, look!” and drag your Mom/Aunt/Brother/Grandparent/Friend to see your amazing find. Do that now, snap a photo and share it. Share a link in the comments here or go to my Facebook posts here and show us what you saw! Go!

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