In 2017 I had some free time on my hands after finishing full time work in order to bring up the children. I knew I wanted to do something with photography, and wanted to use this opportunity to see if I could start making a way of life with the passion that I had had for so many years.
There were a number of things I wanted to achieve, and I remember sitting there with a pen and paper writing down a few notes. The first, and most obvious was a name. I wanted a name that conveyed both the importance of photography and the aspect of meeting and walking with the cameras. In hindsight, I really dislike what I chose. Originally title “Great Photography Walks Neath Port Talbot”, this changed a few years ago to “Great Photography Walks South Wales”. I, and others involved have always shortened the name to GPWNPT, GPWSW or simply GPW. In all honesty, if I was making up a name today, it would be something totally different!
I wanted the group to be for beginners and those more adept at photography, forming a pool of information, so that when we are out and about, there is always someone there with knowledge. Although I was experienced in modern Nikon cameras and their working, a lot of questions on these meets were (and still are), camera specific, so the idea of melding different levels of experience with distract camera users was appealing. It’s worked out really well, as the meets are always a place where we learn something new each week, and we’ve seen people with little photography experience really blossom during the time they have been with us.
Through the years, we’ve had all levels of experience and inexperience in the group meets, that has been even more evident in the Facebook group, where our members have been sharing and helping each other for over five years. I think it’s the Facebook group that has helped spread the word and build up the actual meets to be the thing they are today.
One of my objectives was to use various alternative software to Photoshop and Lightroom, and give people and honest opinion on other software. I know there are a lot of people who won’t or don’t want to use Adobe products, so I always felt that if I could experience other software, it would give be a greater understanding of what others would expect when comparing software. It’s been great visiting all these different software packages, and sharing my opinion. I think over the years it’s been a great learning experience for not just myself, but the others who have tried other software along the way.
A big part of the Facebook group from the very beginning was to include weekend polls and weekly themes. The themes are very useful, as it gives people something to focus on. I love how when people put up different images on the same theme, that they can be all very different. Of course, this also crosses over to the actual meets, as once again it gives focus for people to concentrate on.
The polls have been an integral in creating conversion within the Facebook group, and allowing others to understand what others think. Of everything, it’s the polls that can really help new photographers understand that… Everyone is different!
Great Photography Walks has been a labour of love, and it’s because everyone is different that makes it so rewarding. When you first start these things, you don’t realise how different photography is to different people, and there really is a huge gap between many photographers in terms of styles and ideas.
One of the final things I started Great Photography Walks for, was to bring people together. Having had well over 100 people join us on our meets and over 900 people on the Facebook group, it’s certainly brought people together. I think we’ve all made genuine friends on the meets, and thanks to Facebook, we’ve made virtual friends throughout the World.
Great Photography Walks South Wales is open to everyone, whether you attend our meets or just join in the Facebook group fun. Going forward, we’re doing more street photography meets, and I’m trying to bring in different things to keep it interesting. That said, it’s not always about the photography, but about just getting out there and enjoying the fresh air, and chatting to others.
No matter where you are from, feel free to join us on our Facebook group which you can find here. And remember, sharing knowledge is important, no matter what level of photography you are at.