Frequently Asked Questions

Have a specific question, or just want to know more about what how we operate? Here’s your full list of Frequently Asked Questions. Also some questions no one asks but we kinda wish they would, yeah, those are here too.

Have a question or comment about anything in our FAQ’s? Find something missing? Please send comments to joe@houstonphotowalks.com.

Questions are divided into to sections:

Question #1: There were too many words in this FAQ, so I didn’t bother reading it, is that a problem?

Not really. I wrote it and didn’t bother reading it. But if something goes screwy, we both will be referring to it for answers.

RSVP FAQ

(TL;DR: 3 No-shows in a row, or within a short period of time may indicate you are currently unable to commit to event RSVPs.  You are always welcome to rejoin the group when your time frees up.  We want as many people as possible to enjoy our events.  We commit to resolving the issue of people repeatedly leaving other members on a waitlist because they frequently no-show.)

Meetup provides several ways to update your RSVP, including the web site, mobile apps, and the mobile web application. Unfortunately, with such a large group, it’s increasingly difficult to change everyone’s RSVPs by email request. And if someone posts a “comment” saying they can’t make it, that comment may go unnoticed resulting in a no-show.

If it looks like you can’t attend an event, please log in and change your RSVP rather than posting a comment or emailing the host.

Meetup has removed “waitlists” for some event types. This is not something we can control.

We strongly suggest you contact meetup and ask them to restore the waitlist functionality for *ALL* events, not just some.

For full details, see the question “How do I join the waitlist?”

This could be for several reasons.  If an event is “full” (the maximum number of people have already signed up), the RSVP buttons will be disabled when you visit the event page.

See also: What does it mean if the RSVPs are “Closed”?

Some events are space-limited, usually due to venue restrictions, regulations, or venue size. If a location gives us permission to bring 40 people, we limit the event to 40 photographers. There is no margin for no-shows. Only jerks no-show for an event that has people on a waiting list. 

If a location is smaller, we limit the size so that people who can attend will be able to shoot without getting other photographers in their shots, stepping on each other’s toes, or tripping over each other’s tripods.

HPW is a rain-or-shine group, we typically don’t cancel an event unless the mayor says to evacuate the city. Production companies pay thousands of dollars to bring in rain equipment, so it is great if the weather provides us with a rain shoot for free!

Shooting in the rain can create some amazing photography opportunities, such as wet streets and buildings, cars splashing through water puddles, people running around trying to stay dry, etc. You will want to take some photography gear protection as well as some creature comfort (raincoat or poncho). To protect your gear, there are camera rain guards sold at Houston Camera Exchange, usually, a pack of three is under 10 bucks.

Check out this blog post with some amazing shots of rain photography: 25 Professional Shots of Rain Photography

In some cases, an event may be canceled because the location or venue has shut down due to weather. This will not affect most photowalks.

Also, on days with rain or unusually cold weather, we may not take roll call that day. So no-shows may not be counted.

Report it immediately to the organizer. Organizers may not monitor their texts or phones while photowalking, so report it face to face as quickly as possible. Please make sure you provide enough information (such as the person’s name) so the organizer can intervene.

A member may be asked to leave an event location and/or banned from attending future events for the following situations:

  • Intentionally making other members or venue visitors feel unwelcome
  • Disrupts meetup events, including classes and trips
  • Escalates drama, bullying or harassing members or venue visitors
  • Threatens or initiates physical confrontations
  • Refuses to lower voice when asked to calm down
  • Intentionally damages location property, or refuses to own up to accidents
  • Ignores the requests/rules of tour operators, location owners or photowalk organizers
  • any other egregious acts of anti-social or dangerous behavior

A member who refuses to leave when asked to do so will be banned from all future group activities and reported to meetup.com.

HoustonPhotowalks tries to be as inclusive as possible. When you have large groups of people together from various walks of life, backgrounds, political beliefs, religious affiliation, social norms, vaccination status, and general manners, it’s inevitable that misunderstandings may occur. You may find a particular person uninteresting, or in the worst case, find them offensive.

We ask everyone to remember that this is a social group and to be mindful of other people’s situation as you interact. We can be friendly, respectful and inviting, even if we have members who disagree in other areas of life.

If you do not want to be around “those people” (whoever you consider “those people” to be), then you may not be a good fit for the HoustonPhotowalks community.

Please contact the organizer privately. No one wants their errors pointed out publicly to a huge audience, especially our organizers/volunteers.

There are a lot of buttons, knobs and text boxes to fill in when posting a new event. Sometimes a person may get something typed in wrong. Rather than pointing out an organizer’s mistakes publicly, it’s ok to privately text that person and let them know privately that an edit needs to be made.

Did an organizer misspell something? Is a time/date/address incorrect? Are details fuzzy? Did you not enjoy an event for a particular reason? Is there something about the group that bugs you? We appreciate your keen eye and willingness to share — and your politely worded private message.

We will look at anything you have to say and respond accordingly. Sometimes something looks like a mistake, but it’s not. So pointing out something you disagree with may confuse others.

Mistakes happen, people are human, and not everyone enjoys everything we do. Friendly comments will be handled, public comments will be too — often with the same tone of voice as the person complaining.

The Federal Trade Commission wants you to be aware that websites earn money when you click on their links.  Its a perfectly reasonable law, to make sure you are aware that some links will result in financial compensation for the person who posted the link.

HoustonPhotowalks uses affiliate marketing to generate revenue for our budget and the organizers who run the group.  This money is used to pay Meetup.com fees, website hosting fees, classroom fees, teaching fees, donations to museums and venues, provide bottles of water when possible, etc.

Not at all!  In most cases, we only start paying attention after the 3rd consecutive no-show, or 3 within recent event history.  We have extreme short term memory problems.

The organizers and walk volunteers try to be as accurate as possible when counting heads. If you get a no-show you weren’t expecting, don’t freak. Just send a polite email to the organizer, explaining you were there on time and at the opening remarks prior to the photowalk/event. You will receive a humble apology in return, and have your no-show changed to “attended”.

Occasionally, someone who has paid to attend an event will need to cancel. Due to the limitations and complications with providing refunds through meetup, the basic policy is no refunds on tickets.

There are cases when someone can transfer their ticket/seat to someone else. The following conditions must be met:

  • The event must be booked/sold out.
  • No one else has posted a comment asking to attend the event if a spot opens up. 
  • The purchaser must be a HoustonPhotowalks.com Meetup Group member.
  • Organizers will not be able to verify payment completion between the two parties.
  • Tickets for the event venue, transportation, etc. must be legally transferrable.  For example, some tour operators, sporting events, travel arrangements, and cruise lines will not allow tickets to be transferred.
  • Seller needs to send an email to the organizer, CC: the buyer, and indicate that the transfer has been completed.
  • Only emails FROM THE SELLER, with the buyer listed in CC: will be accepted.  No texts, facebook DMs, meetup messages, etc. please.
  • No need for the buyer to email the organizer, verification of the transfer needs to come from the ticket seller.
  • The nature of the ticket transfer may not violate any of Meetup.com’s terms and conditions.

Meetup provides a waitlist for some events, but not all.  Meetup no longer provides a “waitlist” feature on some event types. For example, a “waitlist” is not allowed on Paid Events.

We strongly encourage members to ask Meetup to provide a waitlist or notification system for people wanting to attend paid events that are filled. You can voice your opinion by contacting meetup at support@meetup.com.

To get around this limitation on meetup, you are welcome to post a “Let me know if a spot opens” message in the comment section of the meetup. Based on the way meetup works currently, you will now be subscribed to any followup comments if someone posts “I can’t make it after all” comment.

You can update your notification settings at the following link, and make sure all items are checked:

https://www.meetup.com/account/comm/

Also, if a spot opens up, the organizer may post a message in our facebook group http://fb.com/groups/houstonphotowalks. So keep an eye out there for updates as well.

This is an imperfect system, we are using comments and facebook posts to get around a limitation on meetup.com.

Occasionally, someone will change their RSVP at the last minute, and a person on the waitlist will be slotted in with little or no time to prepare. Unfortunately, due to the way Meetup.com handles waitlist, it’s sometimes hard to tell that a “No-show” is actually someone that was slotted in with not enough notice to show up.

If you are moved from “Wait” to “Going” with less than 48 hours notice and cannot attend, please log in and change your RSVP so that someone else can attend and so you can avoid a no-show.

If you are moved from “Wait” to “Going” with less than 24 hours notice, and you receive a no-show, please let us know so we can fix that in Meetup.com’s database.

In some cases, the event organizer may choose not to enforce the RSVP Policy for a specific event. For example, a roll call may not be taken in situations of sudden extreme and dangerous weather conditions.

With each no-show, members are sent a polite email. This provides them an opportunity to provide feedback.1st No-Show – Email message sent.2nd No-Show – Email sent, no reply results in removal from the “Mailing List” (thus no longer receive new photowalk notices).3rd No-Show – Email sent, no reply likely results in removal from the group. The member is provided an opportunity to respond to the email before any action is taken. NOT RESPONDING TO THE EMAIL may be considered a lack of interest in remaining the group. I take the time to check in with you, please send a friendly reply email.

This refers to activities taken to lessen the negative impact of no-shows. HoustonPhotowalks nearly closed several years ago because no-shows caused such havoc on our ability to create great events.  So we had to commit to fixing the problem for the sake of our active members.

Some meetup groups “buffer” for possible no-shows. We do not. So “waiting list” people should not attend “hoping someone no-shows”. If the venue sees 39 people and they only invited 20, they won’t understand that 19 people are on the waiting list. Venues will count all heads, think we lied to them about how many will be attending … and send EVERYONE home.

This also puts the organizer in a very uncomfortable situation of telling some people they have to “go home” if there isn’t enough room. And its impossible to make sure that people are fairly treated in order of first-come-first-served.

If you are not on the “Going” list, do not attend; people on the waiting list that just show up anyway will be assigned a no-show for that event.

A detailed explanation can be found here. No-shows cost us money, damage our reputation with venues, and negatively effects group moral. No-shows are rude to the organizer and leave people on the Wait List.

We honestly want as many people to enjoy our events as possible, but sometimes we have to limit the number of people that attend for various reasons.

Sometimes meetups are “Closed” to new RSVPs, meaning you are not able to RSVP to the event. Sometimes meetups are “Full”, meaning the maximum number of people that can attend have RSVPed.

Often this is because we have reported the number of attendees to the venue, and cannot add more people. Sometimes this is because a venue can only hold a certain number of people, and adding more people will create issues for the location and/or photographing.

If a meetup is “Closed”, and the location is private, anyone choosing to show up anyway will be turned away and may have their membership in HPW revoked. If the location is a public space, we cannot prevent you from showing up anyway, but one of three things will happen: you will be reported to meetup for violating the “RSVP Crashing” policy, you will be marked as a “no-show”, and/or you will be removed from the group.

Here’s the thing. We have people that want to attend the photowalk you RSVPed to. So if you can’t make it, we hate that you will be missing, but do ask for you to politely change your RSVP within the 48-hours notice. This gives other people plenty of time to take your spot, and lets us be accurate when we tell the venue or restaurant how many people will be attending.

Changing an RSVP with less than 48-hours notice is automatically changed to a no-show.

Sometimes life happens. Everyone gets a flat tire or an unexpected illness. A no-show results in a friendly email to you letting you know we noticed you missing. Just reply to that email to let us know you’re still alive, simple stuff.

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Payment and Money FAQ

(TL;DR: We only ask for money if we think you are getting something of value in return. Event payments are typically required at RSVP. Refunds are not issued unless otherwise stated. Paypal is our accepted payment option for event tickets, cash accepted for tips. Questions about payments need to be sent via private message, not public comments.)

Yes. Its kinda like when my wife drags me to the opera. I don’t want to be there, but I still have to pay for the seat I occupy.  We usually are happy to have friends and family attend events, and they can shoot with whatever camera they bring with them (even a camera phone).  But just like a movie theater expects everyone to pay who attends, you will be responsible for any payments or fees associated with your guests.

We run the club so that events are typically funded by event payment fees.  And our advertising pays for other fees (such as website fees, meetup.com fees, providing bottled water, donations to museums, etc).  Although we appreciate anyone’s interest in donating, we really don’t accept donations.

The best way to help “Fund the Fun” is to shop with our advertisers.  Clicking our ad links before you buy will help us generate revenue for the group.  And for that, we say THANKS!!

A lot of people have contributed to our budget, and not every one of them can attend any one single event.  Each event should be self-funded so we at the worst scenario, break even.  

If a location is charging us a set amount to visit, we will divide that amount up by the number of people who are attending, add a small amount to cover PayPal fees, and possibly a tip for the event organizer who is doing the work to provide the photography experience.

HPW is a rain-or-shine group, we typically don’t cancel an event unless the mayor says to evacuate the city. Production companies pay thousands of dollars to bring in rain equipment, so it is great if the weather provides us with a rain shoot for free!

Shooting in the rain can create some amazing photography opportunities, such as wet streets and buildings, cars splashing through water puddles, people running around trying to stay dry, etc. You will want to take some photography gear protection as well as some creature comfort (raincoat or poncho). To protect your gear, there are camera rain guards sold at Houston Camera Exchange, usually, a pack of three is under 10 bucks.

Check out this blog post with some amazing shots of rain photography: 25 Professional Shots of Rain Photography

In some cases, an event may be canceled because the location or venue has shut down due to weather. This will not affect most photowalks.

Also, on days with rain or unusually cold weather, we may not take roll call that day. So no-shows may not be counted.

When you RSVP on meetup.com, you will be prompted to pay via PayPal. You can pay with your PayPal account balance, credit or debit card via the PayPal checkout screen.

Sometimes things happen and someone can’t keep their RSVP commitment. Unfortunately, the group still has to pay for their seat/entry, especially if it’s last minute. Also, due to Meetup.com’s method of integrating with PayPal, refunds are extremely time-consuming (the PayPal payment is not tied to your meetup account, so its difficult to find the correct transaction).

This situation is made worse when a large number of people RSVP for events just to “save a spot”, but then change their RSVP and demand a refund 1 or 2 days prior to the event. This led to organizers spending as long as 2 hours per event doing nothing but hunting PayPal and processing refunds.

When folks RSVP, its considered a commitment to the group. As of January 2010, refunds are not available unless otherwise noted or the event was canceled.

Contact the organizer privately to see if something can be worked out. Sometimes we can wait on payment, depending on the type of event.

Sorry, meetup really doesn’t give us a better option. The Meetup credit card payment system takes a very large chunk of every transaction, much larger than PayPal. We can’t use the Meetup credit card processing system without significantly increasing our event prices, which would suck.

Paypal accepts payments from credit and debit cards, even if you don’t have a PayPal account. Or you can get a friend to pay for you.

When you RSVP, you will be prompted to pay.

When we attend events and locations (such as a museum), we collect fees in advance to speed up check-in and not make everyone wait in line. We wanna get started shooting as quickly as possible, not stand in line at a cash register. I can’t pay on your behalf if you don’t pay in advance.

In some situations, paying in advance as a group means we get discounts.

In the past, the majority of people that promised to “pay when I get there” never actually show up. This means the organizer has to pay the venue for no-show tickets promised to the venue (out of the group’s budget).

Please contact the organizer privately. No one wants their errors pointed out publicly to a huge audience, especially our organizers/volunteers.

There are a lot of buttons, knobs and text boxes to fill in when posting a new event. Sometimes a person may get something typed in wrong. Rather than pointing out an organizer’s mistakes publicly, it’s ok to privately text that person and let them know privately that an edit needs to be made.

Did an organizer misspell something? Is a time/date/address incorrect? Are details fuzzy? Did you not enjoy an event for a particular reason? Is there something about the group that bugs you? We appreciate your keen eye and willingness to share — and your politely worded private message.

We will look at anything you have to say and respond accordingly. Sometimes something looks like a mistake, but it’s not. So pointing out something you disagree with may confuse others.

Mistakes happen, people are human, and not everyone enjoys everything we do. Friendly comments will be handled, public comments will be too — often with the same tone of voice as the person complaining.

The Federal Trade Commission wants you to be aware that websites earn money when you click on their links.  Its a perfectly reasonable law, to make sure you are aware that some links will result in financial compensation for the person who posted the link.

HoustonPhotowalks uses affiliate marketing to generate revenue for our budget and the organizers who run the group.  This money is used to pay Meetup.com fees, website hosting fees, classroom fees, teaching fees, donations to museums and venues, provide bottles of water when possible, etc.

Occasionally, someone who has paid to attend an event will need to cancel. Due to the limitations and complications with providing refunds through meetup, the basic policy is no refunds on tickets.

There are cases when someone can transfer their ticket/seat to someone else. The following conditions must be met:

  • The event must be booked/sold out.
  • No one else has posted a comment asking to attend the event if a spot opens up. 
  • The purchaser must be a HoustonPhotowalks.com Meetup Group member.
  • Organizers will not be able to verify payment completion between the two parties.
  • Tickets for the event venue, transportation, etc. must be legally transferrable.  For example, some tour operators, sporting events, travel arrangements, and cruise lines will not allow tickets to be transferred.
  • Seller needs to send an email to the organizer, CC: the buyer, and indicate that the transfer has been completed.
  • Only emails FROM THE SELLER, with the buyer listed in CC: will be accepted.  No texts, facebook DMs, meetup messages, etc. please.
  • No need for the buyer to email the organizer, verification of the transfer needs to come from the ticket seller.
  • The nature of the ticket transfer may not violate any of Meetup.com’s terms and conditions.

Meetup provides a waitlist for some events, but not all.  Meetup no longer provides a “waitlist” feature on some event types. For example, a “waitlist” is not allowed on Paid Events.

We strongly encourage members to ask Meetup to provide a waitlist or notification system for people wanting to attend paid events that are filled. You can voice your opinion by contacting meetup at support@meetup.com.

To get around this limitation on meetup, you are welcome to post a “Let me know if a spot opens” message in the comment section of the meetup. Based on the way meetup works currently, you will now be subscribed to any followup comments if someone posts “I can’t make it after all” comment.

You can update your notification settings at the following link, and make sure all items are checked:

https://www.meetup.com/account/comm/

Also, if a spot opens up, the organizer may post a message in our facebook group http://fb.com/groups/houstonphotowalks. So keep an eye out there for updates as well.

This is an imperfect system, we are using comments and facebook posts to get around a limitation on meetup.com.

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Event FAQ

(TL;DR: Each event is conducted a little differently, so it’s important to read the event description and any related emails. We ask folks to use common sense and good judgment when attending events. We reserve the right to ask people to stop doing a thing that is making others uncomfortable. This includes removing someone from a location, a specific event, or be banned from attending future events with HPW.)

No. Please do not — contact the organizer in a private message, please.

At some events, we have what we call “bonus” material. We may go on a photowalk and not tell everyone that when they get there, there will be some crazy fun extra stuff to shoot. It’s our way of making events fun, surprising photowalkers with great photographic opportunities.

PLEASE do not post spoilers. If you post a spoiler in a public comment, you will experience the wrath of an organizer who’s trying to keep a secret. If you repeatedly and deliberately spoil the surprise for others, you will be removed from our events.

*NO SPOILERS*

There is no set required number of meetings. Attend as few or as many events as you find interesting. Some folks only want travel events, some folks only want downtown events, we don’t judge, come as often as you like.

However, if you RSVP “Yes”, please attend or change your RSVP before the event.

Houston Photowalk events are your opportunity to practice your techniques, ask others about their techniques, and get out of the house with a fun group of folks.

We try to do classes at least once a month, when we have a good venue and a speaker with an open schedule. We also try not to post a class on the same weekend as a photowalk.

Many times, tripods and flash gear is welcome; if you’re willing to carry it, you are welcome to bring it.

However, some indoor locations request we do not bring tripods (tripping hazard). And places with artifacts may ask us not to use flash. If there is any question, we will make that available in the “Last Minute Updates” email.

Unfortunately, sometimes that information may not be known until we arrive at the event. In those cases, that information will be provided at the “Opening Remarks (Roll Call)” portion once we group up. If tripods are not allowed, you can leave it in your car.

If the “tripod” question isn’t answered in the Last Minute Updates email, consider tripods to be welcome.

Houston Photowalk organizers want to make sure you have a 5-star experience at photowalk events. The 1-to-5 star rating system lets us know if Organizers totally nail it — or if we goofed.

General guidelines:

Some issues are NOT part of the rating system. This includes

  • Weather conditions
  • Venue or location closures
  • Acts of God, Mother Nature, Zeus, minions, the Government, etc.
  • Acts of other members*

A rating of less than 5 needs to include some feedback. You can submit this via email directly to the organizer if you don’t want the comment published.

Please leave a “Group Comment” for others to read.

*Note: If there is a member who is acting inappropriately, please contact the photowalk organizer/leader to resolve the issue as soon as possible. We will try to resolve the issue. If we don’t find out about an issue until after a photowalk is over, our ability to help goes down to zero.

Sometimes we as a group will agree to “donate” a few photos to a venue we visit. This often helps us secure access to areas or venues otherwise unwelcome to photographers or the general public — while providing images to an organization that may not otherwise have the budget to pay for professional photography services.

So it’s barter. 

Photowalkers who participate in these events are volunteering to share photographs with the organization or non-profit who invited us.  
If you RSVP “yes” for one of these events, your voluntary image donation is obligatory. You got exclusive access with a promise of some images, so pony up. 🙂 



Note: you are not “giving up ownership”. Rather, you are providing a license to the venue to use your images. This is typically for marketing or historical record. If a venue or organization demand “ownership” of donated images, we will try to educate the organization’s leadership about how image rights work.  If that doesn’t work, we will not attend that event.

Virtual Walks are non-meeting events, where members do not actually meet face-to-face in order to participate in the event.   We do several of these a year, usually during the extremely hot weather and one in November. This allows us to continue exercising our photographic skills even when it is way too hot or our holiday schedule prevents us from meeting.

An organizer or volunteer will host an event at some location that is interesting and unusual. We walk and photograph, easy enough. Later we post our images on the message boards, facebook, or Flickr and provide each other friendly feedback. We try to find time for lunch/dinner too.




The act of photowalking is a communal event, where individuals from all walks of life get together and enjoy photographing, talking and walking.

Sometimes we visit such picturesque locations, it’s tempting to post images of the location even if we didn’t actually attend the event (or the event hasn’t happened yet).

The main goal of this group (and the #1 item of The Three Reasons We Walk), is to participate in fun and safe events. We want to encourage people to get out of their house, take the camera off the shelf, and enjoy some photography opportunities with the group.

To be fair to those who participate, event albums are for people that attended the event, and for photos taken at the event.

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Join HoustonPhotowalks!

About HoustonPhotowalks

Current Stats:

  • Founded November 30, -0001
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We are a friendly group of camera enthusiasts!  Our events include Photowalks, classes, and trips.  Anyone with a camera is welcome, no specific gear requirements.

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Please note, required FTC Legal Disclaimer: HoustonPhotowalks uses affiliate marketing and advertising to generate revenue for our budget and the organizers who run the group. This money is used to pay Meetup.com fees, website hosting fees, classroom fees, teaching fees, donations to museums and venues, provide bottles of water when possible, compensate organizers for their time, etc. When you click links, the HoustonPhotowalks organization may receive a fee when you purchase a product or service.