840 thursdays

On April 20, 2006–a Thursday–a friend issued a very minor challenge in the Utata group on the photography sharing site Flickr. She said, “I’m going to go for a walk and take a few photos; join me.” And what the hell, we did. Virtually, of course, since the membership of Utata is scattered all over the globe. We went for a walk, we took a few photos, and we shared some of them in the group.

That was 840 Thursdays ago. Utata has been walking–and shooting a few photos–every Thursday since. That’s just over sixteen years of Thursdays.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Sixteen years of people walking and shooting photos. Sixteen years. Not everybody in the group walks on Thursdays, of course. And of those that do walk, we don’t walk every Thursday. But every Thursday, somebody in the group is walking somewhere and taking photographs.

Of those 840 Thursday Walks, I’ve participated in nearly 300 walks. I’ve walked on other Thursdays, but I haven’t always submitted a photograph to the project.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

My favorite thing about the Thursday Walk project is that it’s so flexible. There are no rules, no guidelines. You take a walk, you see something that interests you at that moment, and you photograph it. Subject–doesn’t matter. Aspect ratio–doesn’t matter. Color or b&w–doesn’t matter. DSLR or mirrorless camera or point-and-shoot of Polaroid or cell phone–doesn’t matter.

Walk. See something. Photograph it.

Thursday, February 1. 2018

I often combine my Thursday Walk with an errand. A run to the market, say, or a trip to the Post Office. But the flexibility of the project extends way beyond that. A bike ride can also be safely included as a Thursday Walk. A visit to a fair or an amusement park, perfectly legit. A bus ride, close enough. It’s not the actual walking that matters; it’s getting out and looking at stuff.

As far as that goes, since the membership of Utata is global, we’re flexible in terms of time zones. For the purposes of the project, Thursday includes Wednesday morning to Friday night–because somewhere on the globe, it’s Thursday.

Friday, March 20, 2015

So my Thursday Walk images are a hodgepodge of color and b&w, of alleyways and farm fields, of interiors and exteriors, of cityscapes and landscapes, or people and trees, of bike paths and bridges, of mornings and nights, of floods and dry creekbeds, of rainstorms and sunny days, of strangers and friends and selfies, of small towns and deep woods and suburbs and ice cream shops and market shelves and lawn ornaments.

The only thing that unites them is they were taken on the extended Thursday of Utata. And to me, that’s much of the joy.

Thursday, February 19, 2013

It’s such a simple thing, and yet it’s completely wonderful–and I mean wonderful in the old sense of the term. It leaves me full of wonder. There’s no logical reason for people all over the world to do this–and yet they’ve continued to do it for more than sixteen years. I should say we have continued to do it for more than sixteen years.

I have to stress the we because I stepped away from the group for a while. For a couple of years, in fact. I’d been the managing editor of Utata for most of its existence, and I ran some of the group projects–until I became burned out. Then I stepped back a bit and let others step up. Then I stepped away almost completely.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

But now I’m beginning to miss the group again. I miss the people and I miss the interaction and I miss walking on Thursdays. I can’t say I’ll be actively engaged with the group again, because I probably won’t. Certainly not like I used to be. But spending time with smart, creative people–even virtually–is a treat.

However, here’s the thing: what I need to do, if I want to engage with that group again, is make photography part of my ordinary day again. I have to make it habitual behavior. I have to start thinking about it again. Which is why I’m writing this. If I say it in public, I’m more likely to follow through.

Probably.

8 thoughts on “840 thursdays

  1. I’d buy that book too!
    I find creating (or re-creating) a habit really hard. In my case it was a daily walk after foot surgery. It was too boring to just walk for the sake of walking. So I found a small reason each time: phone call with a friend, an errand, visit a slightly distant café, a walking meditation, looking for garden ideas, an audiobook etc. Now I walk at least 30-60 min. a day. I often see opportunities for cool photos but mostly enjoy the visuals in the moment.
    Thank you for your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It may be silly, but I resent the concept of exercise for the sake of exercise. I walk, I ride a bike, I play some pickleball, but I don’t do any of it for exercise. I do it because it’s fun and feels good. If it has any physical benefits (and yeah, it does) those benefits are gravy.

      And yes, the photos you take with your mind are just as rewarding as those you shoot with your camera. They’re just harder to share with others.

      Like

  2. I’d buy that book too! I love your eye and sensibility.
    I’ve completed a few photo-a-day projects, which I undertake for the very reason you mention: to keep the idea of taking photos—that is, of *seeing*—in my consciousness. Some days I’m more engaged than others; some photos are better than others. It’s the discipline that matters (said as a very undisciplined person, generally speaking).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, man, I don’t have the discipline to take a photo every day. I admire folks who do. Years ago I found myself regretting photos I saw but didn’t/could shoot. At some point, though, I started to relax about that and just appreciate the thing I saw for what it was.

      That said, there’s still that little voice in my head that says, “If only I’d had a camera ready.”

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  3. I don’t always read your blog when it pops into my mailbox, but when I do I’m really glad I did. It wasn’t until I started reading this that I realized you were talking about Utata Thursday Walks. I walk and or jog a lot…..I try to on Thursdays….but I’m very undisciplined about it. It seems I started Thursday Walks on 06/03/2010! I have posted 429 photos from those walks to Utata. I have some form of camera on me….all the time, but my inspiration has highs and lows. Thanks for the booster shot:) I enjoy your photography almost as much as I admire your writing. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s shocking how many Thursday Walks we’ve taken without recognizing…well, just how many Thursday Walks we’ve taken. It’s even more shocking how many Thursday Walks we’ve taken without realizing they were Thursday Walks. I hope to start doing it more deliberately again.

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