there are pivotal moments in your life that change you as a person. like that time you move to blacksburg for college not knowing you’d have 4 of the best years. or that time you travel to thailand and play with elephants, eat all the food, and find peace in the most beautiful scenery.
or that time you wake up before sunrise to meet a bunch of strangers. that’s where walk with locals comes in.
photography is something i’ve done on and off for as long as i can remember. instagram renewed my passion for taking photos. so many talented people that shared more than the standard passive aggressive facebook status. unlike any other social platform, these people took the relationships offline too. i had been to a few instameets/photo walks and they were fine enough. they kind of felt like the first day at school in a new place where everyone else already knew one another. honestly, it was a little intimidating and i wasn’t sure how many more i’d go to.
this photographer i had been following put the call out to join his new group, walk with locals, for a photo walk. carl wanted to build a community focused on inclusivity. he simply wanted a space for people to know their community, and to know their neighbors. the first walk was at sunrise at the martin luther king memorial. it was cold. it was early. and again, i didn’t know anyone.
but this meet up was different.
first, i met diana. a kind, crafty, soft-spoken, stranger who extended a hello and a smile. then there was carl himself. i am terrible with estimating, but let’s say there were about 30-40 people there. he personally introduced himself to every single person with a hug. the walk hadn’t even started yet but i already knew it was going to be something special.
the walks are simple…
- bring any camera that you have with you or don’t bring one at all.
- don’t walk with someone you know but rather introduce yourself to someone new.
- ask them questions beyond just what their job is.
- wait to exchange social media information at the end of the walk.
this emphasis on genuinely making connections with people is so refreshing. and the results are stunning in this digital age. because we are so connected, yet at the same time, so disconnected from each other. meeting people gets harder. we get busier. and making time to focus on what makes you happy seems like such an indulgence.
but these walks are a constant reminder that you are so much more than your social media persona. you are so much more than your job. you can show up somewhere not know the agenda or any idea how long you’ll even be there. you can meet a bunch of people you don’t know and a year later, you wouldn’t know your life without them. we’ve shared countless miles and laughs. and i love sharing this community. i’ve brought family visiting from california. i’ve brought several of my co-workers. i’ve brought family friends.
so to carl: thank you for starting this community. thank you for providing a space that’s made me a better photographer. thank you for making me fall in love with this area all over again. thank you for introducing me to some amazing people.
on this one year anniversary, we go back to where it all started. so if you like to take pictures, like to have your picture taken, or simply like to meet new people, just show up. 6:30am at the martin luther king jr. memorial. yes, it’s early and it will be cold. but you won’t regret it.