Clifford Menife photographed at his dwelling in Syracuse as a part of the South Facet Newspaper Undertaking’s 2018 Picture Stroll. (Picture: Jordan Larson)

A Picture Stroll is a social pictures occasion the place photographers collect to discover a neighborhood, shoot photographs and follow their expertise. The idea is easy: seize a digicam, stroll round and snap some photos for a couple of hours.

The hyperlocal media challenge I run has organized an annual Picture Stroll for the previous 12 years. Actually, we don’t know why extra retailers don’t do it. As a nonprofit, along with our mission to tell the neighborhood, we goal to coach residents to inform their very own tales. For this, we’ve provided periods on interviewing, the inverted pyramid and information writing. However these periods, whereas nicely attended and fascinating, resulted in few accomplished article submissions. Our Picture Walks, alternatively, end in a whole lot if not hundreds of photos.

The Picture Stroll doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s a centerpiece of and companion to the South Facet Newspaper Undertaking, a hyperlocal outlet with a mission to serves Syracuse’s South Facet neighborhood. The challenge delivers information on-line and in The Stand, a quarterly newspaper.

Pictures captured through the annual Picture Walks make for superb content material and construct neighborhood identification and delight for residents who usually really feel unrepresented in mainstream media.

The way it started

After I organized the primary Picture Stroll in 2010, it mirrored a world stroll created to convey collectively communities of photographers the world over. The worldwide stroll allowed “Stroll Leaders” to register periods of their communities. Thus, our providing was certainly one of many organized in cities all over the world on the identical day.

After three years of coordinating with the worldwide stroll, ours cut up off when the worldwide occasion moved to the autumn. We continued every July, capturing one Saturday in our goal neighborhood, yr after yr.

Walkers meet at a delegated location, then spend a couple of hours socializing, capturing photos and sharing with like-minded folks. The occasion permits folks to essentially cease and interact of their bodily environment, collectively.

Attendees crowdsource content material round a unified mission. It’s meaning-making that transcends particular person views and permits audiences and individuals to rethink their very own views. The providing is actually mutually helpful.

For residents, the Picture Stroll generates neighborhood conversations, creates allies, develops expertise and establishes renewed delight for the neighborhood they name dwelling. For individuals from exterior the neighborhood and our journalists, the stroll is a direct solution to have interaction the neighborhood as a result of we meet folks the place they’re — typically actually of their entrance yards. It gives a tremendous alternative to casually have interaction with residents — in low-income housing complexes, neighborhood parks, native retailers and immediately on the road — and hearken to their tales.

Planning the small print

The primary want for a Picture Stroll is to recruit an expert photographer to guide individuals on a guided path by means of the neighborhood. This particular person might be an worker of the outlet, a retired photographer, or from the career and involved in a volunteer alternative.

Subsequent, plan a route that’s beneath two miles however that may hit many factors of curiosity within the neighborhood. The most effective metropolis Picture Walks are 1.5–2 hours. Bear in mind, folks with cameras will transfer a lot slower due to the heavy tools and frequent stops to discover and snap photos.

Picture Walks usually begin at a park so individuals can simply collect. To align with our nonprofit mission of coaching the neighborhood, our occasion opens with a brief photograph coaching. Participation within the opening lesson later grew to become elective, permitting attendees to finish each the coaching and stroll or to solely be a part of the stroll.

For us, accommodating the coaching required the occasion to be held at a big neighborhood house. That is one thing to contemplate when planning your occasion. Having a central location allowed individuals to park, come into the middle to satisfy others, sit in on the lesson, and have a house base the place they might depart gadgets, pop into the lavatory and revel in water and light-weight snacks.

Following the stroll, we had been additionally capable of meet again up and share photos. For this selection, we encourage individuals to drop off reminiscence playing cards for a coordinator to add whereas they stepped out to seize lunch. Subsequent, all return to eat collectively whereas viewing one another’s photographs in a slideshow. One yr, a grant allowed us to supply a catered meal by a neighborhood chef. For different organized walks, we’ve reserved house at a close-by restaurant the place a setup might be ready for sharing photos. COVID taught us that photographs can be shared nearly. So there are numerous choices to contemplate.

The share-back offers individuals an opportunity to mirror, present their ideas and full a brief survey in regards to the occasion, which has confirmed to be helpful information once we’ve utilized for future grants.

Why it really works

The Picture Stroll works so nicely as a result of taking a photograph is one thing everybody has performed. It’s not intimidating to ask somebody to snap a photograph, whereas being requested to contribute an article can appear daunting.

By design, walks convey collectively various segments of the Syracuse neighborhood to have fun the usually unseen corners of our metropolis. Contributors embody present residents and people involved in pictures from the encompassing suburbs and even the broader area. Individuals from a variety of ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic courses take part as nicely. Regardless of their skill — skilled to novice — all are capable of stretch their expertise by attempting new issues and studying from others.

The tip result’s numerous photos from a number of views that mirror the neighborhood again to itself. The photographs each pattern on a regular basis life and inform bigger tales, particularly of individuals usually marginalized in mainstream media. Walks have generated a financial institution of some 11,000 photos. Most not too long ago, a small portion of that portfolio — 51 photographs — went on show in a retrospective exhibit at ArtRage Gallery in Syracuse.

Taken as a part of the 2019 Picture Stroll, a picture of the Wilson Park swimming pool in Syracuse emphasizes how Interstate 81 separates it from the campus of the SUNY Upstate Medical College. (Picture: Jenn Grzyvinsky)

Each facet of this collaborative endeavor works to satisfy our nonprofit’s mission. The walks have grown in recognition as a result of not solely are they participating for all concerned, they’re additionally enjoyable.

“It’s change into a signature occasion for The Stand,” stated Steve Davis, founding father of the neighborhood newspaper. “It actually grew to become rather more than I ever thought that it could be.”

Cowl of the 2021 Picture Stroll version of “The Stand.”

Davis says the Picture Stroll helped the South Facet Newspaper Undertaking uncover the numerous shades of character locally and simply how stunning a neighborhood might be.

For our outlet, the interactions inform future reporting. Contributors are inspired to interact in conversations, find out about residents and report info so as to add to photograph captions, in addition to gather story concepts.

Contributors say they’ve met neighborhood members they might not usually have the chance to come across. Some individuals from exterior the neighborhood went on to hunt volunteer alternatives or assist wants they realized about whereas on the walks.

The Stand publishes one of the best photographs in a particular version of the print newspaper and options them on our social media. All photos are saved in an on-line archive. Contributors aren’t required to share photographs, but almost 90% have.

The consistency of visiting the neighborhood with a transparent mission additionally builds belief. Participating an viewers repeatedly over time contributes to the event of larger belief, connectedness and social capital, in accordance with a research by the College of Minnesota.


Clifford Ryan, a recognized antiviolence activist locally, stated he’s glad to have his dwelling shared by means of the lenses of others, highlighting it as he is aware of it: a spot of affection, energy and care.

“Neighborhood means all the pieces to me,” stated Ryan, who additionally served as a paid neighborhood information for a number of Picture Walks. “And there might be no unity with out neighborhood.”

The facility of pictures is that it captures a second in time that continues to be for later reflection.

“Everyone knows there’s some adversities that we face locally,” Ryan concluded. “However [the Photo Walk] is a good way to indicate the neighborhood is a spot of affection.”

Ashley Kang is director of the South Facet Newspaper Undertaking, run in partnership with Syracuse College and Syracuse’s South Facet residents. She launched the Picture Stroll in 2010 and has grown and expanded the neighborhood engagement initiative during the last decade. She additionally serves as an advisor to the Syracuse Metropolis College District media program. E mail her at [email protected].