The Event Lowdown.

Easy Listening version
  1. Please read
  2. Welcome
  3. Events
  4. Workshops
  5. Music
  6. Aim of these events
  7. Schedule
  8. RSVPs and Attendance
  9. Cost
  10. Weather
  11. Personal Safety
  12. Contact during event
  13. Why street photography?
  14. Copyright
  15. 1Improving your skills
  16. Putting it out there
  17. Who am I?
  18. 1Suggestions

1: Please read.

Why? Because this should be considered as an informative introduction to this group, the type of photography practiced, the reasons for it and how it can benefit your photography.

In a sense it’s a 10 minute lesson about the importance of good composition and the places where we will be practicing it: mainly the streets of Berlin, and as such it contains information that every street photographer in Berlin should be aware of.

And it also saves me from having to repeat most of it at the beginning of every event, which only wastes time for many of the regular attendees, and so spending 10 minutes with it gets us all up to speed.

I’ve prepared an audio version of the text, but if you really can't be bothered to read it or even listen to any of this, maybe you should consider taking up a simpler, less demanding hobby, because it won’t get any easier or cheaper than this.

But I’m always available to answer any queries, just send me a message on the Meetup platform.

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2: Welcome.

Welcome to the Berlin Photography Meetup group, hopefully you will find the events scheduled here to your taste, they are orientated towards developing a range of photographic skills through practice, and are suitable for all skill levels, although an interest in photography should be the motivation for attending, and not just because you are bored one afternoon and you just fancy meeting some new people, and to that end you’ve hurriedly borrowed a dusty old camera from your Grandmother which you have no idea how to operate - that’s not quite the right attitude.

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3: Events.

Rather than aimlessly wandering around hoping that suitable photo opportunities spontaneously present themselves, many of the events will be themed, so that they can be treated as short photo projects, which can be interpreted in a series of images by the participants.

It sounds daunting, but it’s actually good fun, because everyone interprets these themes differently, and for that reason there is no right or wrong way to tackle them.

Other events will be more location based, such as the abandoned listening station at Teufelsberg because of the interesting photo opportunity it offers, as does also a visit to the botanischer Garten because of the sheer variety of subjects to be found there; or maybe because an event in the city of Berlin itself presents a good opportunity for street photography, such as the MyFest street festival in Kreuzberg, or the Christopher Street parade.

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4: Workshops.

Complimenting this will be the occasional practical workshop aimed at the beginner who wishes to learn more about composition, how to recognise it and to understand the positive effect it can have on your photography.

Workshops will only be scheduled if sufficient interest exists, so please contact me if this is the case.

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5: Music.

Photography is just like music in many ways, if you want to master an instrument, there's no easy way around it, you have to practice playing the thing, and it's the same with a camera, you have to practice certain skills, technical, compositional, and also technique, if you wish to progress beyond just taking holiday snaps.

But whereas a musical instrument requires the practice of mainly finger dexterity, visual composition requires a proficiency in mental skills, of photographic psychology, especially because knowledge of all the different rules alone doesn't guarantee any success, as the understanding of them is actually just the first step in a long process of mastering them, in fact, just as with the musical instrument, they cannot be practiced enough.

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6: Aim of these events.

These aren't photography lessons, they are just the opportunity to practice taking photographs with the aim of providing everyone with a basic tool-kit of mainly creative skills, which can then be used to recognise the potential in any situation, they are therefore perfect for anyone new to photography, both digital and analog.

No special technical knowledge is required, just set the camera to automatic, or one of the automatic filter settings, and concentrate on what can be seen in the view finder.

Good photography isn't about the equipment, it's about looking and understanding light and shadow, it's about being creative, and this can be learnt, which is why understanding some of the rules of composition is so very important

But where to begin?

There are dozens of rules, but that is what this website is all about, start with the easy ones such as the rule of thirds, leading lines and framing, practice them until they become second nature and then move on to some the more difficult concepts.

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7: Schedule.

These events generally last approximately 2 hours, we meet, introduce ourselves, discuss the aims of the event, during which any questions will be answered, afterwards we go off exploring the area, either individually or in small groups looking for suitable photo opportunities, mainly because it's rather impractical to go round all together in one big group.

Fresh meeting points will be arranged every 45 minutes or so, and then towards the end of the event we'll meet in a nearby café for a refreshing drink and to chat about the day's shoot.

For sharing photos please install the sendanywhere app - via Bluetooth.

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8: RSVPs and Attendance.

RSVPs will be open 7 days before the event, update them as necessary, but please don't leave it until the very last day, because it's sometimes just stealing a spot from someone on the waiting list, and a list is kept of the worst offenders, including those who just can't be bothered to attend, who to their dismay are frequently removed from the group, especially when they refuse to mend their ways, because this casual attitude is just spoiling it for everyone else.

And this especially applies to all "first-timers", who will be immediately removed from the group, no questions asked.

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9: Cost.

Many Meetup attendees seem to labour under the impression that Meetup pays organisers to arrange events for the benefit of the general public, it's some form of charity, and we therefore have a duty to run them, it's all very casual, and attendees can change RSVPs and attend as their mood takes them.

But it's not like that, all groups and events are entirely privately arranged, and all costs incurred are therefore also met privately, because Meetup is just a platform where events can be advertised to a targeted audience.

Many groups and events advertised on Meetup are just simple get-togethers, meetings in a bar for a chat, there is very little organising to be done, the organiser is often the bar-owner himself, he's just raising the profile of his drinking establishment.

Others are real events, and although  they seem "free" to sign-up to on Meetup, there is an entrance fee to be paid on the door at the venue itself - because the event isn't actually "free", it's just being advertised on Meetup.

But a group like this one here isn't advertising a secondary event, there is no hidden secondary source of income - this is it.

But it takes a considerable amount of time to arrange these events so regularly and with such variety - writing, checking locations and details, maintaining websites etc. - and there are also running costs - Meetup fees, webspace etc - there's no such thing as a free lunch, and so a nominal attendance fee is expected, usually just the price of a cup of coffee, as a mark of respect for all the hard work done by the organiser.

Unfortunately this is now to be paid in advance via PayPal, because the voluntary scheme that had been in place eventually failed, as too many attendees decided to silently opt-out of the scheme, thereby sadly indicating a lack of respect.

Anyone who feels this is unreasonable, please feel at liberty to form your own Meetup group.

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10: Weather

These events take place even if an asteroid threatens to extinguish all forms of life from the surface of planet Earth, and will therefore certainly not be cancelled just because any one individual considers that it's maybe either too hot or too cold, too wet, dry, overcast, bright, dark, too this, too that . . .

so check up the weather for the Berlin area in advance here:

BBC weather

"There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing" - Ranulph Fiennes

So, at the very least that means an umbrella for rainy days and sun glasses for when it's t-shirt weather.

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11: Personal Safety.

Please be aware that your personal safety and that of your guests is your own responsibility for the duration of any Meetup event.

Also be aware that although the rough and ready type of individual, particularly those living on the street, do make good subjects because of the urban texture they have acquired, they are however living on the street for a reason, they are often suffering with mental health issues, or are alcoholics, usually both, so be sensible and respect their personal space when approaching them for a photo opportunity, as they can sometimes react in an unpredictable manner.

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12: Contact during event.

Please: at events call me on this number: 0176-39335630, or send an SMS, DO NOT post enquiries on the event page, or send me WhatsApp, Skype, or Viber messages, because I usually just don't receive them until it's too late.

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13: Why street photography?

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts," - William Shakespeare

Because the streets have become our natural environment, a stage upon which we act out our lives, where the pageant of life unfolds, buildings becoming a vast urban scenery, passers-by are variously its unwitting stars, supporting actors or bit players upon which the drama ultimately depends.

Good street photography is like a visual sound-bite, it captures an often candid, fleeting situation at a decisive moment and creates something tangible.

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14: Copyright.

The German laws regarding the copyright of the own image are the bane of all street photographers here in the Bundesrepublik, so be sensible about it, delete any images of an individual if requested, but do remember: they do actually have to be recognisable, because they will have to prove beyond any doubt that it is actually them in the photo if it were ever to come to a legal dispute, and so just because someone's out of focus shoe is in the corner of the shot, that doesn't give them the right to demand that everything on the SD-card be deleted, as happened to myself one morning - some people here just want to argue.

Parallel to this is the law of the freedom of panorama, that as long as the rights of the individual are not compromised, (filming through an open window into a private space such as a bedroom) it's perfectly legal to take and publish photographs of anything that can be seen from a public space, and that includes all public roads and footpaths, buildings visible from this public space, including all shop-signs and registered trademarks, such as the McDonalds restaurant street advertising.

Unfortunately many "public spaces" aren't actually as public as is commonly assumed, such as railways stations and shopping malls, they do have owners, even if they are frequently a public body, but many such as the deutsche Bahn publish guidelines as to what is tolerated or not, although security personell in these times of heightened public safety may dispute this, so it's always best to print out a copy of these guidelines and carry it as part of your equipment.

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15: Improving your skills.

An important but often overlooked aspect of improving your photography is to put your work out there in the public arena to gauge reaction to it, but don't imagine that it's all a one way process, because just as the public can give very valuable feedback, it can also be the case of you, the photographer, educating the public to accept your own particular vision, and if this were not the case, every photographer on the planet would still be stuck trying to emulate "View from the Window at Le Gras", the earliest know surviving photograph from 1826.

But thankfully art is always evolving and challenging not only itself, but also society's preconceptions of it, and so the world of photography now embraces visions as diverse as Henri Cartier Bresson, Alexey TitarenkoChris Friel and thousands of others.

Remember: no one takes photos in your style better than you do yourself, and as the difference between success and failure is often just a hair's breadth, it needs all the honing you can give it.

With that in mind, check out the following posts: rule of thirds, framing, balance, Dutch angle, point of view, black and white . . .

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16: Putting it out there.

Never have the possibilities been greater than now for when it comes to exposing your work to the public, but it's maybe worth remembering that this is a group for people with an interest in genuine photography, which is the reason why almost all members own some sort of DSLR camera, analog or digital, and process their images in Photoshop or Lightroom after each event using a desktop monitor for clarity, before loading them up to the internet using a browser, it's not a process that I would ever advise anyone to attempt using just an App.

But Meetup itself is now orientating itself evermore to becoming an App driven experience, and so even the Website is now undergoing a redesign to make it more "App compliant", which means that although Meetup is very convenient for announcing and RSVPing to events, the Berlin Photography Meetup webpage is increasingly leaving a lot to be desired regarding the ease of use for a photography group with photos to display.

So in future there will be a graduated experience on offer:

A. - For the beginner, and those with limited aspirations regarding their photography, there will still be the Berlin Photography Meetup webpage, where events will continue to be announced, can be RSVPed to, and to where event-photos can be uploaded - nothing will change except what Meetup itself decides.

B. - Parallel to this though, the main emphases of the group will gradually be transferred to this website with more detailed announcements etc., and to which event photos can be uploaded, with a dedicated lightbox for a far better viewing experience, together with a rating and comment system and social media linking. All  in all far better tools on offer for the more discerning photographer (see example).

C. - And finally: it's all well and good taking thousands of aesthetically pleasing photos of quite unrelated subjects each week, but what if you want to hone your craft still further? This is where the photo-essay approach to photography comes into its own, it's a very good tool for developing skills, because it provides a framework in which it's possible to give the images context, tell more of a story, and create better emotional involvement for the viewer. And for this reason there's to which series of images in the form of an essay can be uploaded.

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17: Who am I?

Andrew James Kirkwood BA Honours, I'm British and  studied 3D design at what is now Kingston University School of Art, London, and have won prizes in several street photography competitions in the Berlin area, such as the Fotomarathon 2016 and the UPR, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and so when it comes to street photography, it can safely be assumed that I do know what I'm talking about.

My personal Website can be found here:

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18: Suggestions.

If you have an idea for an event or location, please get in touch:

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© Andrew James Kirkwood - 2017