This is the nitty-gritty roadmap details on how Houston Photowalk (HPW) Organizers and Hosts plan events. Sit bag and dig in. This is what our volunteers do to make sure you have a great Photowalk!
Why Does It Take So Many Words To Explain How Houston Photowalk Events Get Planned?
Organizers work really hard to make sure you are going to have a good time at the event, and why I (Joe) will frequently gush thank-you’s to our volunteers on a regular basis.
We plan each “event” to make sure you have a good time, enjoy photographing something “interesting and unusual”, and feel good about posting a great comment with your 5-Star rating.
How Does The Process Start?
Photowalks events get started with “Idea” posts, message board discussions, or emails to event organizers. Sometimes its an idea sparked by a web site, newspaper article, or an accidental U-Turn that takes an event organizer down a new street.
We also rely quite a bit on Google Maps, choosing a road and then following it click-by-click to see the areas of interest. Since Google Street View images are usually very out-of-date, interesting locations are then scouted by car.
Where Does It Go From There?
The process usually has a 3 to 12-week “pipeline” process. We do very few “Last Minute Notice” events anymore, they are often poorly attended and receive low ratings compared to well-organized events. When an idea becomes a solid project, the organizer then starts the event preparation phase.
Preparation? For Walking With A Camera?
You would be surprised. There have been several great “Ideas” that didn’t resolve into an event because the location didn’t allow groups, didn’t allow photography or didn’t allow non-employees. We can’t promise we won’t get run off, run over, or arrested, but we try to make sure in advance.
The preparation process usually starts with phone calls or emails to the venue/location to secure permission to photograph and gather as a group. If permission is granted (or can be assumed, such as public places), the organizer starts researching the best location / route / information to make it a fun photowalk. This may include doing the walk alone in advance, researching the location’s web site, doing research on Flickr, etc.
In most cases, organizers also try to secure some “exclusive” opportunity (arrive before “the crowd”, stay after closing hours, attend at a reduced cost, be allowed to photograph when no one else can, etc).
How Does HoustonPhotowalks.com Post Meetup.com Events?
The organizer fills out a form on Meetup.com, about 3 pages long. This includes event name, details, location, route map, venue fee details, etc. The organizer may also specify limits on the number of photographers and the RSVP policy. If the location is smallish, we may limit the number of people that attend to make sure we aren’t getting a bunch of other photographers in our shots.
They save this information on Meetup as a “Draft” for the other HPW organizers to view.
Once the organizer(s) have all the ducks in a row, the event is “published”. When that happens, an automatic announcement is sent to all members via email, as well as automatic twitter and facebook posts.
And That’s It Right?
Nope. Through the span of time between the announcement and the actual event, the Organizer will remain in regular contact with the venue / location so they remember we are coming. Since some events are planned as far as 3 months out, we don’t want them to forget we are coming. 🙂
About one week before the event, everyone is sent 2 email reminders, one is automated from Meetup.com. The other is a personal email from your Photowalk Leader with any last minute updates (what to bring, where to park, who to look for, etc.).
And Then What?
The walk. 🙂