The art of photography isn't just about having the best equipment, the biggest lenses or the most powerful software. It's about learning how to see and sometimes joining with others to learn from them.
Beginners and experts will have the chance to get together and practice their skills Saturday at the fifth annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk.
"Every year they pick a day, get photographers together in a social atmosphere, and take pictures in a short two-hour time period," said Roger Feldhans, president of the Fort Dodge Camera Club. "I think so far they have 1,200 sites for the walks, and over 25,000 photographers in cities around the world."
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Roger Feldhans lines up some photos of architecture in downtown Fort Dodge in preparation for the Worldwide Photowalk on Saturday. Feldhans tries to find unusual, close-up shots that make people see an object in a new way.
This is the first time the walk has been held in Fort Dodge, Feldhans said.
Photographers will gather at Daniel's Pharmacy at 12:45 p.m. and walk down Central Avenue to the Fort Dodge Public Library.
"We'll ask people to venture off a little bit, like go to First Avenue North, First Avenue South to get a little bit of variety," he said. "There are so many interesting things downtown, you get that full range."
So far, 12 people are signed up, he said. The walk can have up to 50 participants.
Anyone can sign up by going to worldwidephotowalk.com and clicking "find a walk" from now until the day of the event. That way, they'll also be entered in the contest portion of the worldwide walk.
Feldhans said those with the best photos from each area would win prizes such as e-books on photography, as well as a chance to compete in the larger worldwide competition.
He stressed that high-end equipment was not required for the walk.
"Don't bring like three tripods and four cameras. Keep it simple," he said. "Any camera will work. Everything from a camera phone, compact digital, DSLR, whatever people want to bring is great. It's great to have that variety of all ages all skill levels. It's a very social-type atmosphere."
Before the walk, the participants will meet do discuss what to look for, and safety tips.
"Safety issues like, don't walk around with a camera up to your eye, because you'll eventually trip," Feldhans said. "Be aware of your surroundings, like traffic, curbs.
As for shooting tips, he said, "Pay attention to architecture. Not necessarily an entire building, but parts of it. Get different angles, angles people normally don't look at."
After the walk, photographers will gather at Olde Boston's Restaurant and Pub to look at the pictures "just on the backs of the camera, that real social feel, rather than projecting them up on a screen," Feldhans said. "It's just like, hey, look what I did. You really get a different feel when people do that, because they're proud of what they did, and they should be."
Feldhans knows first-hand that equipment is less important than the photographer. One of his photos taken with a point-and-shoot was recently selected as a finalist in a national competition.
"To use a camera like this and get into something where there's 70,000-plus entries, and you're up against guys who have $8,000 to $10,000 cameras, and then there's also people in there that took pictures on their phones," he said, "that's what I like in things like this photowalk.
"It's not about whether or not you have a big fancy camera, whether or not you have all this equipment," he said. "It's about what you see and how you see it."