Welcome to the wonderful world of the photo hunt…

Most of you will be aware of our community photography venture – Looking Good Leeds, some may not yet be aware we have a ‘Holbeck and Beeston‘ project running. You do now! One of the first initiatives for the project is a photowalk bringing together a number of partners, including ‘Leeds Photo Hunt’. Always having a keen interest in new photographic initiatives, we jumped on the chance to interview Kirsty Ware, who started it…

How did the photo hunt idea come about – what originally gave you the idea?
Photohunt came about via a discussion with a friend about how we had cameras and enjoyed photography, but felt really self-conscious walking about taking photos. I’d been arranging several events across Leeds for fun stuff to do – there’s never enough fun stuff going on, so I wanted to appeal to people who wanted more than just to sit in a pub, but the sort of people who do sit in pubs. I’m also not a brilliant photographer – the camera rarely come off automode – so I decided to set up an event that was all about having fun with cameras and getting people used to feeling comfortable with them out in public. I didn’t want to try and be a photography club – Exposure Leeds do so well in encouraging photographers, I wanted to target people like me who don’t see themselves as photographers at all, but who had access to a camera and wanted to use for more than just facebook shots. We’ve always tried to make it inclusive and friendly – the aim is to have an atmosphere of ‘pub quiz on the go’.

How was your first event? What came out of it? What feedback did you get from those who took part?
The first event went really well, I expected perhaps two people to turn up but it was quite a big group, with everything from cameraphones to DSLRs; and everybody came back at the end of the hunt too! The feedback was that the frantic nature of it (you only get an hour to take pictures) and the informal atmosphere really worked in people ‘taking pictures’ rather than ‘making photography’ – you can spend the whole hour getting that ‘perfect shot’, but you’d be missing out on a lot of it. There’s never been an aim to get great pictures, though we have had some, it’s all been about having fun, and I think that’s been achieved from the very first hunt. In fact, very little has changed since that first hunt at the start of the year!

Tell us more about what we will find when we take part in the photo hunt?
Photohunt is basically a game. You get a starting point, a list, and a time limit (usually an hour). In groups you go off round Leeds with a list of 50 words to take pictures of, some obvious (fence, window) some obtuse (superhero, unicorn). It’s not a competition, interesting shots are usually preferred over beautiful ones (bonus points for punnage or inventive interpretations of the list), and you can take the photos individually or as a group effort; and it’s all totally at your own pace, and your own discretion – we don’t judge the final shots, we just enjoy looking at them. For winter we’re actually relocating indoors, so you’ll have challenges rather than a list, but the Holbeck and Beeston hunt will follow the format of the summer hunts. The main thing to point out is that photohunt is for all abilities and all people – it’s entirely up to you how you interpret it and how much effort you put into it – I take daft shots, some people take gorgeous intricate shots; I never ever run, but some people cover miles!

What are you most looking forward to from the event in Holbeck and Beeston?
I’m really excited about it, as I don’t know the area at all, so I’ll be hunting alongside everyone else! I think the event really promotes the aim of enthusiasm over technical ability, and I’m looking forward to seeing all sorts of people take part; and of course getting some interesting shots of bits of the area you wouldn’t normally notice.

…and what do you think to the Looking Good Holbeck and Beeston project?
This is the first time I’ve got involved with the project, but I think it’s brilliant. There’s so much stuff going on in communities outside the city centre and unless you live *right there* you rarely find out about them. I’m really looking forward to discovering another part of Leeds, not just through photohunt but through all the events going on as part of the project. Hopefully other communities will take note and we’ll be overrun with great projects through the whole LS postcode.

Finally; give us the sales pitch – where should we be? By when? And with what?
Leeds photohunt will be taking over Beeston and Holbeck on 26th November between 12 and 3pm. We’re still finalising details of where we’ll be going, but these will be available nearer the time on the South Leeds Life website and on – all you need to bring is a camera (any camera – disposable, cameraphone, professional DSLR) and wear comfy shoes; and of course, like always, photohunt is totally free!

If you’re on Facebook you can sign up for the event (and receive updates)

A small sample gallery of images from previous photo hunts; thanks to Ian J Bowden (@QualityLobster) for letting us share them! The main image is Ian’s also.

The photo hunt is supported by Leeds Photo Hunt, Leeds Digital Festival, Health for All and Looking Good Holbeck & Beeston

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