Yesterday, I participated in Scott Kelby’s World Wide Photo Walk at EPCOT. It’s an annual event where a group of photographers get together, go walk through an area, and take some shots. However, the photography is really secondary. It’s a social event. You may get some nice shots or perhaps not, but the idea is to gather around folks and have a nice time. That’s exactly how my day went — it was great.
The first year I did this, it was in the dead of summer. I joined a group in Mount Dora, FL and we had a reasonably nice time. We also melted in the heat & humidity. For that reason, I skipped the event for the last couple of years. This year, Scott announced a change of timing to October (expanded over a weekend, rather than a single day). That made all the difference in the world. Those of us in Central Florida woke up to nearly perfect weather for an event like this. Our standard heat & humidity was gone — the high temps were about 80 degrees and very comfortable. A front with dry air moved in the area to provide comfortable walking weather. Granted, it eliminated the clouds, but that’s OK. It was more important to have nice weather for the event. I read that some folks in the Philippines showed up at their walk despite a typhoon. Now that’s dedication.
Our Fearless Leader
Our fearless leader, Kevin Graham, organized everything nicely. In the shot above, he picked a very poorly lit place to give us our initial instructions, but it was comfortable in the shade with a cool morning breeze. Then we trucked over to the front of EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth to have our group photo made by one of the Disney Photo Pass photographers. Got some great shots, and then a late entry came and we gathered to do it all again to have a complete group photo.
So who was this latecomer to our party? Keith Barrett!
Update! Keith was not late, he was early. He was just early somewhere else and had a hard time finding us.
For those of you who are active on Google+, you may already have Keith in your Circles. If not, go find him. Keith is a prolific participant there who shares a lot of wonderful material, but he’s also one of those “glue” people who attracts interesting folks from different circles and brings them together. He also records and broadcasts Google+ Hangouts with Trey Ratcliff, which are on his site if you’ve never been in one before.
A Fine Group of Walkers
A fine group of walkers — that title sounds like an aging group of punk rockers.
As you can see, nothing prevented our EPCOT team from getting their shot. People got on the ground, they climbed on things. One man went inside a British phone booth (for entirely too long, if you ask me) to get shots from the inside looking out, up, down, and who knows what else. Our team would not be deterred from getting their photographs.
Of course, I did the absolute wrong thing. I brought my ThinkTank Sling-O-Matic camera bag and a tripod. The best advice for a photo walk is to go lightweight — carry a camera and a versatile lens. Well, I don’t have a versatile lens. I have heavy glass, which is what I lugged along. I also knew there were some HDR shots I wanted to get on this visit, even if not part of the photo walk event. On the positive side, I used everything I brought, except for my flash. I think I could’ve used that, too.
We Met Interesting People
Yes, there was a genuine cranberry farmer (or is it herder?) in the middle of EPCOT. He was suddenly surrounded by dozens of photographers who had never seen a cranberry
herder farmer before. A nice lady from Ocean Spray came over and asked me if we were with the media, because we descended on them like locust. Once she learned about the photo walk, she gave me her card and mentioned that they’re asking guests to feel free to share their photos on the Ocean Spray Facebook page. I redirected her to our Fearless Leader, but in the end, no cranberries were injured.
A number of other folks came up asking me why we were all there, so I shared info with them. One of them turned out to be a gentleman who attended a swimsuit workshop with me a year ago and was looking for others who shared his passion for photography. Well, there we were.
The timing of the photo walk this year coincided with opening weekend of the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival. Naïvely, I planned ahead that I’d take photos of food & wine. Nope. Didn’t get a single shot of anything edible. We wound up the walk at the Chinese Pavilion for lunch and I noticed one of my table-mates took a moment to photograph his meal before eating it. Yeah, not me. Although I don’t care for most Asian foods (I’m a finicky eater), I was hungry and dug into it right away. My quick review is that I still don’t like Chinese food, but it doesn’t taste bad. It’s just not my preference. At any rate, there are no photos of food or wine here.
Part of the event is a bit of a photo competition. Folks from each walk upload their shots and the leader gets to pick a winner who, I think, gets a copy of Scott Kelby’s most recent book. That’s a LOT of books when you consider all of the different places around the world that participated. Kevin mentioned that he’s looking for something OTHER than the typical postcard shot of EPCOT. That meant I had to spend time looking at the place very differently than I have in the past. It’s a bit of a challenge to look at a familiar place and see what you’ve never seen before.
From the group winners, I think there’s another level of competition for more prizes. Damn if I know what prizes, as I don’t think I have anything prize-worthy here at all. Although I tried to look at EPCOT differently, I don’t think I really got much that was interesting. I even had to fall back and do the post card shot of the monorail. I can’t help it. It doesn’t matter, though. I had a very pleasant day meeting people, hanging out and shooting some photos. With that in mind, I’ll let them speak for themselves.