I’m just back from teaching a photo class in Los Angeles. Living in Kansas City, where we do have winter (witness the bits of snow still remaining from December 24!), I managed to take an extra day in LA to go out and shoot pictures. The photography was fun, but the best part was doing it with friends.
Whenever I teach a workshop, I always remind the students that the best way to improve as a photographer is to shoot pictures. Classes, books, magazines, and the internet can all be great resources to expand your knowledge and gather ideas. But to complete the process, and truly grow, you’ve got to shoot pictures. And that’s often the hardest thing for people to do.
We all lead busy lives. Family, work, volunteer organizations, home maintenance… the list can seem endless. It’s pretty easy to not go out and shoot pictures, right? Some people fight that by going on photo trips, where they can focus their energies on nothing but photography for a few days or a week or two. That’s one way to do it. Others make sure to take their camera with them on daily errands, walking the dog, school events, or any place that might offer a chance for photos. The most rewarding, though, can be planning a photo date. In my mind, there’s no better combination than shooting pictures with friends. I love combining an activity I enjoy with people I enjoy being with.
And that’s how I ended up spending Sunday evening and Monday. The internet can be great for researching photo spots, and I’d found a few in or near LA that I wanted to visit. Sunday night we
headed to the Griffith Observatory, which is a great place to see LA at night. Monday we split our time between the Disney Concert Hall (fabulous), Greystone Mansion (okay, but I want to visit again when it’s sunny) and a small beach north of Malibu called El Matador. I made some nice photos, but more important was the time with Leslie and Bob. We had a lot of laughs together and helped each other find photos (who needs a model when you have a friend nearby :). A winning combination.
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to travel and make friends across the country. I’m hoping to visit a few of them this year, and maybe go shoot pictures together. That’s my favorite kind of social time. And I recommend you do the same. It doesn’t have to be somewhere exotic – a little park down the street will work just fine. Find a friend, head out and see what you can come up with. Even if you don’t shoot a single picture, the time spent will be well worth it. After all, friendships are more important than photos.