The Photo Walk Project: Naomi Lee Voss on Photo Walks as a method of creative inspiration

Images above taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Burnley July 2019

There was a time when I once thought failure was creativity’s kryptonite, but over the years I’ve come to understand that doubt is the secret supervillain that framed failure. Doubt often blames failure (or the thought of potential failure) for lack of progress, when in reality it’s doubt that ultimately wreaks havoc beyond all possible progress. Failure after all, is an essential part of progress; embrace it, cherish it, it’s a sign your going in the right direction. Doubt however is fear in disguise (we’ve all done it), doubting our ideas, doubting our skill and ability, doubting our place in the creative industry, until we are so full of doubt we often cease to create anything.

There’s no real way of permanently expelling doubt, but it’s important to understand when your feeling stuck and in its grasp, how to redirect that energy into something more constructive. When I feel it creeping up on me, I find the best thing to do as a photographer is to grab my camera and walk. I started this process last year, observing and interacting with the area and people in my home town of Burnley. Some days I would take one or no images and others I would feel a type of synchronicity in the process and ask stranger after stranger that I’d encounter throughout the day if I could take their portrait, after all and this is important, so take note… the worst thing they can say is no. Of course approach is important and mindfulness of subject, situation and location are all essential but the point of these walks for me was essentially not to have a point, not to overthink and to get out of my own head.

Images above taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Burnley July 2019

The walks started to slowly give me confidence and kept the debilitating doubt monster at bay, whilst also steadily and subconsciously keeping creative output flowing, even if at the time it wasn’t for anything beyond my own enjoyment. Earlier this year, after conversations with other creatives, I began to realise most of us often have this feeling of being stuck due to being filled with doubt, not knowing where to turn or how to move away from it (many I realised were graduates like myself). 

This got me actively engaging with others and putting out an open call for anyone interested in one on one photo walks based in the North West, utilising photography as a means to explore, chat and shoot. The idea was to help build on confidence, whilst also creating a safe environment when exploring areas and people out in the open with varied photographic equipment (expensive or not). This intimate set up created an atmosphere that wasn’t overwhelming for myself, the other participant or the public. Such a small way of working then became particularly important during the pandemic and when lock down eased up, keeping the walks to a one on one system made more sense for more reasons beyond a laid back un-invasive approach.

For those that have taken part in the Photo Walk Project so far, it has been a great resource for collaboration and interaction and I hope that each person I have explored with and each person that has gone on to explore with others, has taken something away from their experiences that will help them in some way. Below are a range of images (all credited accordingly), that have been taken during the Photo Walk Project so far. This project will be continuing in the future, so if you are reading this and want to join in, feel free to message me on instagram @lee.voss for more information or make it your mission to arrange a photo walk yourself with others, either way, don’t stop creating.

Taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Hebden Bridge, July 2020
Taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Hebden Bridge, July 2020
Taken by Daniel Oyegade, Manchester, September 2020
Taken by Daniel Oyegade, Manchester, September 2020
Taken by Calum Haywood, Hebden Bridge, July 2020
Taken by Calum Heywood, Hebden Bridge, July 2020

‘Photo walks are a great way to mix with other creatives, I have will continue to arrange more in the future’ – Calum Haywood

Taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Hebden Bridge, July 2020
Taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Preston, July 2020
Taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Preston, July 2020
Taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Preston, July 2020

‘Photography can be quite technical so it comes as a welcome change to be able to talk to people about some of its nuances, specifically film photography’ – Daniel Oyegade

Taken by Daniel Oyegade, Preston, July 2020
Taken by Daniel Oyegade, Preston, July 2020
Taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Burnley, August 2020
Taken by Naomi Lee Voss, Burnley, August 2020

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