Most won’t even bother setting an alarm for that one day of the week that is so dear to the crazy working soul — Sunday! But come Sunday morning and even the regular kochuri-munching Ghoshbabu at Shyambazar mor now stops in his food tracks to gape at a bustling group of click-happy youngsters out at 6am — if not earlier. Tourists? Nope! They are regular Calcuttans, mostly students or professionals and not necessarily young, who sacrifice their precious Sunday sleep for a dearly-held passion — photography.
DSLR, SLR or even a mobile camera — welcome to the brand new shutter-crazy city of Photowalkers.
“Photowalking is the act of walking with a camera for the main purpose of taking pictures of things that the photographer may find interesting. It is often a communal activity organised by camera clubs, online forums or commercial organisations, sometimes in the form of a walking tour,” explains Wikipedia the Wise!
Simply put, it is the passion to capture anything and everything through the roving lens with like-minded people for company.
How did it begin?
Photowalking became a serious talking and acting point worldwide in 2008 when Scott Kelby, the American photographer, designer and editor, created quite a ripple with his Worldwide Photowalk. The tradition continued and in 2011, nearly 30,000 photographers participated in more than 1,100 walks around the world. That one day in 2011 generated more than six million photos. Even India figured on that global map of Photowalkers!
Photowalking, however, existed well before Scott Kelby, through informal groups of friends and photographers who got together and headed out to discover a bit more about themselves. Street Photography is often considered the first form of Photowalking.
Are there Photowalking Groups in Calcutta?
Many. Especially when an upload is just a click away today. While there are groups like F8, Kolkata Photowalking, Kolkata Weekend Shoot (KWS) and Kolkata Photographers Club (KPC) that are free, there are also professional camera clubs who take you on a Photowalk for a certain fee with the intention of imparting technical knowledge.
For Arjun Ghosh, who heads Kolkata Photowalking, it began when he moved to Calcutta three years ago. “Compared to Delhi, where Photowalking was quite a rage, Calcutta seemed quite unaware. I started Kolkata Photowalking quite spontaneously when through a food group I met up with youngsters with a passion for photography and we headed out to Kumartuli one fine day. We realised we could do with some proper networking. KP is essentially for anyone and everyone who has an inclination towards photography. Amateur or professional, that doesn’t matter to us,” says Arjun, who works at a software company when he’s not going ‘click-click’.
Why join such a group?
“Initially, I would go with my friends who used to get irritated with my constant tendency to stop at every frame and try angle after angle till I got the right one. But with Photowalkers, there is no question of irritation. We are often comparing notes and helping each other learn a few new techniques,” says law student Arka Maiti, who found out about the F8 Photography Club and joined it in October, 2011.
It’s also a way to meet like-minded people. “I did not know any of the F8-ians prior to forming this group and yet today we are one bustling group of photographers who head out at least once every week if not more,” says Tanayesh Talukdar, founding member of F8.
Members come from all walks of life. “Some are even professional wildlife, nature or lifestyle photographers,” says Indranil Kar, one of the administrators of Kolkata Photography Club, that boasts of members numbering thousands. The club has two kinds of Photowalks. Official ones are generally planned around festivals or special occasions. In the unofficial ones, KPC members meet up and set off together and then share their experiences and images on the group’s page on Facebook.
How can you join a Photogroup?
Most groups have active accounts on Facebook and Flickr. They are downright serious about their passion, but also know how to have fun, which of course entails friendship, bonding and lots of eating out! All you need is a working camera and a passion to click.
the 10 Photowalking Commandments
01Given you are going to be photographing
and walking, make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
02Carry as little gear as possible.
03Keep water and food handy at all times.
04Know what to expect on the walk, map out the route prior to setting out.
05Get the group photo done right at the very beginning, before the members start dispersing at various points.
06Stick to the group and if you get lost, follow the route. Keep group member contacts handy.
07Photowalking can go on for hours and often involves breakfasting or lunching together. Time to share those foodie secrets!
08If you get tired, feel free to drop out at any point, but after having informed the group head or a member (it saves the members from going on a mock lost person search).
09Don’t be shy! Doesn’t matter what kind of a camera you have, just go out there and shoot and make new friends.
10Once done for the day, make sure to SHARE
Founded in: 2009
Member count: 487
Type: Casual and fun, no stress on getting the best photos. But enjoy!
Kolkata Photographers Club
Founded on: June 23, 2006
Member count: 1,615
Type: Members here know the basics of photography and prefer new members with some experience. But one is welcome to learn.
F8 Photography Club
Founded on: June 1, 2011
Member count: 120
Type: Fun and serious, a good capture is always welcome.
AtoS Kolkata Photography Club
Founded in: 2011
Member count: 30
Type: A closed group open to only employees of the AtoS IT company. An example for other companies to set up similar groups.
Kolkata Weekend Shoots
Founded in: 2009
Type: A closed group, they are strict with their rules and entertain no fakibaaji!