A New Photography MeetUp Sparks Interest in the Asheville / WNC Region
Interview with Vagabond Photo Walks Lead Creative Nomad David Simchock
Asheville, NC – A new photography-themed MeetUp has come to the area, founded by Asheville photographer / instructor David Simchock. Titled “Vagabond Photo Walks – WNC”, Simchock will kick off his urban explorations on Saturday, April 5th at 9:00am in Downtown Asheville. The MeetUp was officially launched about a week ago, but already has about 40 “creative nomads” signed up, over half of which plan on participating in the inaugural event in early April.
We caught up with David to find out more about his initiative:
Media: What was the inspiration behind Vagabond Photo Walks?
David: Now that I don’t have my RAD studio tying me down, I wanted to embark on a personal project for 2014, and decided on the WNC urban photo walk idea. The concept of “photo walks” is nothing new, and there are certainly other MeetUps photography options out there. I’m also aware that the Google+ social media platform is used to organize events around the world. Perhaps the best-known effort is the annual Worldwide Photo Walk that is organized by renowned photographer and Adobe software guru, Scott Kelby. The common denominator for all of these photo walk events is the gathering of photography enthusiasts for a day of shooting together in a specific locale, sharing their love of the art form with each other in the process. Not needing to totally reinvent the wheel, I’ve considered all of these photo walk variations when I created Vagabond Photo Walks, but I’ve added my own special touch that I hope makes them more intriguing and more meaningful. Judging by the initial response, it appears that I’m on to something!
Media: Tell us what you have in store for the MeetUp.
David: As there is already a photography MeetUp in the area called “Hiking with Cameras”, which is inherently nature-based, I wanted to put my MeetUp’s focus on “urban” environments where photography enthusiasts, both local and visiting, can get together to roam the streets and alleyways of WNC cities and towns. Our first event on April 5th will take place in Downtown Asheville with a stroll around the Urban Trail, but the plan is to cover other parts of the city in future walks, and also venture to the surrounding towns like Hendersonville, Weaverville, Brevard, Black Mountain, Waynesville and more. I think that there is enough to see and do in all these places to keep us busy for the rest of the year!
Media: That’s a lot of territory! How often will the photo walks take place?
David: To start, I think that once or twice per month will do, but it will depend on demand, and how much help I can get from others to lead the events. I want to conduct walks on both weekends and weekdays in order to make them more accessible for everyone. The events will take place at different times of the day, and we’ll certainly be adding a few “night” shoots to the line-up.
Media: What about the “special touch” that you will be adding to your MeetUps?
David: I want the events to be more than just get-togethers where folks do a lot of shooting, but nothing more comes of it. Ultimately, I want this to be a learning experience for everyone. Given that I am a professional photography instructor, I will be on hand to help others, and I am encouraging my peers in the area to join in as well to act as tour leaders, and as sources of information and inspiration. Participants in each event will be encouraged to post their work on line, and to provide feedback to each other. I will be setting up communities on both Flickr and Google+ to facilitate this process. As time goes on, I see these on-line galleries as a source of stock imagery documenting the life and times of the local area, and I hope that we can market these images to local businesses for their promo materials and websites. Hopefully, the creators of the images can make a few bucks from licensing fees! If nothing else, the photos produced during the MeetUps will help to record a slice of history in this ever-changing part of the country.
Media: What else do you want to get out of the MeetUps?
David: I’ll be seeking out exhibition spaces for the group’s work, which could be anywhere from a café to a hospital to a proper gallery. Given that each MeetUp that takes place will be themed, it will be easy to put together a cohesive body of work for each show. I’d love to link the MeetUp effort to a charity or two, and I see the exhibitions as a perfect way to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause.
Media: That sounds fantastic! You can build a community and give back to another community in one effort!
David: Yep, that’s the idea. While the MeetUp will fundamentally serve to build a community of photography enthusiasts, it can also serve to help others. I still need to think this through a bit more, but there is definitely a lot of potential here to maximize the impact of the group and to give back.
Media: Is there a skill level requirement to participate in the MeetUp?
David: Absolutely not! It is open to all skill levels and camera types, including iPhones. My preference is to attract adults, but there is no reason why we can’t host a family-friendly event where kids can participate with their parents. I’ll also consider working with local schools, if time and energy permits!
Media: How are you attracting people to the MeetUp?
David: The folks at MeetUp.com have a good system in place to publicize the project, although we were off to a difficult start as the website got hacked about an hour after I launched the MeetUp, and it’s been up and down quite a bit since. Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of that! I’ve also met with the local f/32 Photography Group Steering Committee, and they will be promoting the event to f/32 members. Of course, I’m also hoping that the local media takes an interest and helps to publicize the Vagabond Photo Walks!
Media: You refer to the participants as “Creative Nomads”. Sounds like fun!
David: Exactly! I want this to be seen as an enjoyable experience of exploration and creativity, hence, the playful name of the MeetUp and its participants. The events will be a fantastic way for people to get outside and to explore the nooks and crannies of their own backyard here in Western North Carolina.
Media: Vagabond Photo Walks is a fantastic idea! Is there anything that you would like to add?
David: It’s only been a few days since I launched the project, and I’ve already connected with some fantastic folks who are passionate about photography. I think that there is a lot in this for a lot of people, and it’s going to be a ton of fun along the way. And, it’s free! Who knows? This may even grow into a much bigger initiative, with events taking place all around the country and world! I didn’t call it “vagabond” photo walks because I plan on standing still!
About David J. Simchock: A native of New Jersey now residing with his family in Weaverville, NC, David has lived and traveled overseas for many years and, since returning to the States in 2002, quickly established himself as a reputable freelance photographer, artist and educator. His images have appeared in major publications around the world, and he has exhibited his work in numerous galleries and venues from New York City to Asheville. David’s efforts have been awarded many prestigious accolades, while his life story and career have been covered in several publications and TV features. David is also an educator, speaker and writer (and aspiring rock star). He enjoys being a stranger in a strange land and taking on new artistic challenges, whether abroad or nearer to his own back yard. He strives to bring a fresh approach to his work, successfully capturing the mood of the moment, as well as, perhaps, an entire journey.
David is a member of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. His business activities, including his popular Vagabond Vistas Photo Tours venture are part of the Dijon Creative Solutions Group:
Address: P.O. Box 12, Asheville, NC 28802 Phone: (828) 216 – 6457
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