As we celebrate the 14th anniversary of HoustonPhotowalks, I want to say Thank You. Your enthusiastic participation and shared passion for photography have shaped this group into today’s vibrant Photowalk community.
Our success stems from the mutual respect, open friendliness, and welcoming attitude that each of you brings to our photowalks. It’s your willingness to embrace new members, to engage in healthy photography debates (but leave the political debates at home), and to learn from one another that truly sets us apart.
Over the past 14 years in this group, I’ve had the privilege of interacting with the most amazing, open, and accepting individuals. Your friendships, your insights, your patience, and even your gentle corrections* have made me a better person.
So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
The Power of Community
Over the years, we’ve grown from a small group of 20 photography enthusiasts to a vibrant community of 4,990 members. But no matter how much we grow, our focus remains on the social aspect of group photography. We welcome everyone, regardless of their gear or skill level, because we believe that photography is for everyone.
We don’t take that lightly, although we sometimes do lighthearted stuff, like my yearly April Fool’s joke.
Making a Difference
Our group is about more than just photography. We also strive to create a positive environment for people to socialize. Let’s face it, the pandemic was tough, and many of us got used to being alone. Now, health experts are warning of an epidemic of loneliness, leading to health issues and unhealthy behaviors. That’s why our pre-Photowalk meals are so integral to the HoustonPhotowalks culture that we’ve even considered making them compulsory to attend a photowalk. 🙂
Yes, I know, I don’t always pick the best restaurants. But don’t let that stop you. Feel free to bring a sandwich!
Beyond socializing and photography, we’re also committed to positively impacting our community. We’ve highlighted organizations like our recent photowalk visit to El Gato Cafe, which helps rescued cats find new homes. Our group tours have also infused much-needed funds into museums and venues still struggling to recover from the pandemic.
Over the past 14 years, we’ve held 719 events, and with museum fees, tour fees, venue donations, etc., members have helped pump more than $66,000 into the Houston, Texas, economy. In the last year alone, we’ve had over 500 Facebook posts with lots of friendly and helpful replies. And thanks to our diligent moderators like Charles Putnam and Betty Gaw, zero spam!
And through your help by purchasing from our advertisers, we have paid our Meetup.com bills without asking for donations. For 14 straight years, we’ve never had to worry about how the bills get paid, because you guys are awesome with your website clickly clicks.
And we must celebrate our event organizers and volunteers. MANY thanks to Betty Gaw, Charles Putnam, and John OBrien for all the work you do to keep us busy and well organized. Our group is nothing without events, so we are in your debt. Also, thanks to our organizer Steve for keeping us informed about all the great photography trips we can take.
As we look to the future, we’re excited about the potential for further growth and new opportunities to explore our shared passion for photography. We have big plans and can’t wait to share them with you.
Recently I released an update to our website with a map to more than 220 previous photowalk locations that are still open after COVID. And I created another section just for current and future event organizers. It has more than 2,000 potential future photowalk locations for organizers to research. Not all of them will pan out, but we have plenty to work with to keep you photographing for a long HoustonPhotowalks future.
There will be other changes as the group continues to grow and evolve. For example, many of you may have noticed we pretty much stoped enforcing the No-Show rules. We basically ignoring them now. They were important for some specific reasons several years ago, but not as much today. Hopefully, relaxing the no-show rules will help people with busy schedules feel encouraged to start joining our events.
I’ve also stopped doing long speeches at the beginning of every event. That was one of the highest requested items in my suggestion box that doesn’t actually exist but people kept putting “shorter speeches” in there anyway. 🙂
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
So here’s to you, the members of HoustonPhotowalks. Thank you for being a part of this journey. Your passion for photography, your willingness to learn and share, and your commitment to this community are what make HoustonPhotowalks a truly special place. Here’s to another 14 years of capturing the world together!
* (Except when Betty corrects my spelling, which still ircks me to no end.)
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