(Above: Last year’s group from the Geelong-Waterfront, Australia Photo Walk)

I’m getting these questions a lot, so to add extra drama I added the adjective “Burning” so you might actually read it. I learned this technique from Fox television. ;-) Here we go:

(Above: Last year’s group from the Columbia, South Carolina, USA Photo Walk)

(1) Why isn’t there a walk in my city?
It’s because there isn’t a walk in your city. Yet. We’re approving a bunch of walks today, so if you didn’t see it yesterday it’s either that we haven’t approved one yet, or maybe it’s that nobody has applied to lead a walk there yet (or perhaps the leader that led one there last year, didn’t reactivate their walk quite yet. Just check back in a day or so and there will likely be a walk in your city you can join—unless your city is really, really small).

(Above: Last year’s group from the Melaka, Malaysia Photo Walk)

(2) So….what exactly are the rules about what I can submit to the contest?
We’ve had a ton of questions each year about this. Most recently, we’ve had lots of questions about model shoots during the walk. Here’s how I feel about it: you can shoot models as long as it happens on the walk route, during the official 2-hour (approx.) walk time chosen by your walk leader. Also, you can use Adobe Photoshop to your hearts content, as long as everything in your photo was taken during the official walk hours along on the walk route. You can’t go back at sunset and shoot it in better light, and so on. Also, you can’t add a better sky that you shot in that same location on some other day. Basically, whatever you submit, it has to be taken during the official walk you participated in. You can shoot panos, HDR, B&Ws, you can create collages, you can process them with Instagram on your iPhone—I don’t care—it just has to be all shot during your 2-hour walk. If you don’t agree with the rules, no sweat whatsoever—just don’t enter the competition portion of the walk.

(Above: Last year’s group from the Juarez, Mexico Photo Walk)

(3) How many prizes categories are there this year?
This year, we have more than ever. I pick 10 finalists from the winners chosen by the walk leaders around the world, and one Grand Prize winner. Great prizes for all those folks (even the finalists win a full copy of Lightroom 3, among other cool stuff). Then we have a “People’s Choice” award which we choose a few days later, and we’re working on the prizes they get now, but it’ll be some cool stuff, too. Lastly, this year I’m adding 30 new “Honorable Mention” prizes for specific categories I create after seeing the shots that win the local walks (if you look at my list from last year, this will totally make sense. Here’s that link). Last year, those images got mentioned, but they didn’t get a prize. This year, I’m working on a prize for each Honorable Mention (thanks to ideas shared by people who follow me on Twitter).

(Above: Last year’s group from the Los Angeles Little Tokyo Photo Walk)

(4) Can I attend one walk Saturday and a different walk Sunday?
Well, technically you could, but the idea behind having a second day is not so the same people can fill up both walks—it’s to let people who couldn’t walk Saturday have an opportunity to walk on Sunday. If you sign up for both days, chances are you’ll be denying someone the opportunity to walk. That being said, if it’s a week before the walk, and there are plenty of open slots for a Sunday walk (like 20 or so openings), then it’s perfectly OK to go ahead and join a 2nd walk, because you’re probably not stealing anybody’s spot at that point. Just be a good egg and don’t sign up too early for a 2nd walk, so other people have a chance to participate. You’re on the honor system for this one, and I trust you to do the right thing.

(Above: Last year’s group from the Mendoza, Argentina Photo Walk)

(5) I don’t get it. Is just walking around in a group taking photos really that much fun?
Absolutely. If you haven’t done one, it’s really hard to explain, but it’s actually a blast because this is such a social experience. There’s a lot of laughing, sharing, smiling, eating, networking, and making new friends with people who share your same passion for photography. These events bring out the nicest people, and there’s a very “we’re all in this together’ feeling that runs through the entire event, and everybody helps everybody out along the way. Lots of talk about camera bags, and lenses, and straps, and stuff like that. And even though there’s a photo competition aspect of the walk, you’d never know it during the walk. People are there to have fun first, and if you participate in a walk, I promise you—-you’ll be surprised at how much fun it actually is—but you’ll never know unless you sign up for your local walk.

(Above: Last year’s group from the Cape Town, South Africa Photo Walk)

So that’s it. There will be more questions (of course), but they won’t be burning questions (perhaps sizzling questions?), but we’ll cover those on the official Facebook and Twitter pages for the walk. Brad Moore is the coordinator for the walk this year, and he’s dedicated to making this year’s walk our best, smoothest one yet, and he monitors the official site and social media pages, so if you get stuck, drop us a line there. And be patient. 1,000+ cities around the world, and tens of thousands of walkers is a lot to deal with (running Photo Walks isn’t our only job).

Thanks to everyone who has volunteered to lead a walk, and to everyone who has joined one. I can’t wait! :-)