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Worldwide Photo Walk Day comes to Brattleboro this weekend

BRATTLEBORO—For the first time, photographers in Windham County will take part in Scott Kelby’s annual Worldwide Photo Walk Day, which takes place this year on Oct. 13.

Tom Singleton, who will be leading the photo walk through downtown Brattleboro, says, “All that is needed is a camera and a desire to take photos in Brattleboro.”

According to the event’s official website, the free walk, open to those of all ages and abilities, “is a social photography event where photographers get together (usually in a downtown area or trendy section of town) to walk around, shoot photos, and generally have fun with other photographers.”

“Ability doesn’t matter. It is just a chance to get together with like minded people to walk in and around Brattleboro and discover photographic opportunities,” Singleton says.

Kelby’s loose-knit group of organizers have established photo walks across the world. Last year, 28,000 people participated in more than 1,000 photo walks.

Photo walks are limited to 50 photographers.

“If that doesn’t sound like a lot, you haven’t seen 50 photographers coming down the sidewalk at the same time, and later all converging at once on a restaurant or pub,” Kelby, an American photographer and one of the most prolific authors in the computer/graphic arts industry, writes on his website. “It’s more like a scary bike gang (except without the bikes, or gang, or scariness).”

Walking the walk

A former banker for Wells Fargo who moved to Vermont when he retired, Singleton has been involved in photography for more than 40 years. He is a member of the Vermont Center for Photography as well as the Brattleboro Camera Club, and has exhibited at various venues in Brattleboro, including Brooks Memorial Library, Mocha Joe’s, and the Vermont Center for Photography.

“Nobody seemed to be doing the walk in Brattleboro so I thought it a good idea to organize a local branch,” says Singleton.

For two hours, the cadre of photographers will complete a loop of downtown, starting at the parking lot on Flat Street, next to Dunklee Machine, at 9:45 a.m.

The walk will end at 12:15 p.m. at the Whetstone Brewery by the Hinsdale Bridge.

Singleton thinks Brattleboro is a wonderful town to walk and photograph with its old buildings, a stream running through it, and various architectural styles that make for great photographs.

“Locals will get a chance to see the area differently,” he says. “They perhaps walk down Main Street all the time, but now they can focus on things like architecture details or vistas in a new way.”

The walk is attracting not just Vermonters either. “A couple from California who are going to Boston for a meeting, have decided to spend the weekend in New England doing the photo walk,” Singleton says. “They are joining us up here in Brattleboro.”

Singleton wants to stress that everybody with a camera is encouraged to attend. Beginners and pros alike are welcome. “The philosophy of the walk is simply to promote photography,” he says.

“No one should feel that they are too inexperienced or say to themselves, ‘Gosh, I don’t have a good camera,’” he adds. “Even if you just bought your first camera, come out and try to get something. If you want to stay with the group that is great, if you want to wander off, that is okay, too. We’ll get back together at the restaurant.”

Singleton is hoping for a beautiful fall day in New England, but says that he “will hold the walk in the rain unless it is a downpour.”

Global prizes

Participants will be given a website to which they can upload their image files if they want to enter the photo contest. The local winner will receive a free book from Scott Kelby about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 — software for organizing and sharing images. The local winner will then compete in the global photo contest.

Details of the global prize packages can be found in Worldwide Photo Walk website. Top prize is awarded by Kelby to the single best overall photo taken that day. He will also pick photos for 10 finalist prizes, and one People’s Choice award that will be awarded by participants.

Kelby writes, “Basically, whatever you submit, it has to be taken during the official walk you participated in.”

The contest founder invites participants to shoot panoramas, high dynamic range images, black-and-white photos, or to apply digital effects like creating collages or retro-filters from Instagram.

“I don’t care; it just has to be all shot during your two-hour walk,” he writes. “If you don’t agree with the rules, no sweat whatsoever — just don’t enter the competition portion of the walk.”

“Some people freaked out last year thinking they were required to enter, but just know, you absolutely don’t have to enter your image,” Kelby writes. “You can go and shoot for the day, and never let anyone see your photos. Ever. They can be your private ‘secret’ photos.”

Kelby writes that many photographers have not only made new friends, but have also gone on to form their own photo walks during the year.

“This is totally a social event, and that’s why makes it so much fun,” he says.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #173 (Wednesday, October 10, 2012).

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