Photo Adventures By UBER


by Rick Zeleznik

Now, this idea might be old hat by now for many of you, but it had never really occurred to me.  When it did, it felt like a "see the matrix" sort of epiphany - so it seemed worth sharing.

The concept is pretty simple: use Uber/Lyft to bounce around between shooting locations in a metro area.  Now, that may not sound all that revolutionary, but I'm not talking about using it to "get downtown" or across town... I'm talking about hyperusing it, for distances as short as a few hundred yards, to strange/hard to access destinations.

Whenever I would dedicate an evening or a day to go on a shooting adventure, the normal scenario would tend to play out like this...

  1. Drive / Metro to wherever I wanted to start
  2. If I drove, I'd spend a good amount of time hunting for a parking space - almost always resulting in a good walk to whatever I wanted to shoot first.
  3. Find that what I'm seeing doesn't really work like I hoped it would
  4. Walk a couple hundred yards to where it looks like there might be a better perspective.
  5. Get some shots
  6. Try to figure out where to next... a few blocks up it looks like there might be an interesting angle on a building, etc. ... ok, a few blocks isn't much - off I go.
  7. Get to whatever I was seeing and I don't see a shot that I want.
  8. Maybe a couple more blocks down...
  9. Get there and again, it doesn't look worth shooting, but maybe I grab a few random shots along the way.
  10. By this point, you're thinking about that other place across town - surely that has the masterpiece in-waiting, so you walk a few blocks to the Metro and scoot across town.
  11. Get off the metro and walk a few more blocks to the thing you wanted to shoot and sure enough, you get a few more shots.
  12. Repeat steps 6-11 another couple times and call it a night.

Half way into an outing like that, I'd find myself getting frustrated with one thing or another... all resulting in "maybe" 1-3 shots that I thought might be worth developing.  The more walking you do, the more tired you get - more so, depending on your pack setup.  Not necessarily in an "oh, I'm soo tired" sort of way, rather, in a subtle loss of patience.  That loss of patience would prevent me from taking the time to see a great vantage point around the corner or on a whim seeing whats there from an ultra-low angle.  I don't know, certainly possible that  anyone reading this is thinking I'm an idiot or just really lazy.  All I know, is that it was getting less fun and harder to convince myself to spend 6 hours wandering aimlessly around town.

Then, one night I'm somewhere in Arlington VA and I start to imagine a shot.  It would be cool and wasnt all that far away, but there werent really any good ways to get to it except on foot - on a route that wouldnt really be pedestrian friendly... particularly at 1 in the morning.  I start to rationalize it in my head... my wife doesn't "love" my late night shoots, and this was feeling like it might represent more risk than made sense.  Ok, fine, I wont wander down that random highway... Now, all this time, Im looking at the map on my phone.  I was fixated on what looked like a cool perspective looking straight across a major bridge going into Washington D.C.  There's a traffic circle at one end that looked perfect and what I found myself wishing was that I had an accomplice that night... someone that could just slow down briefly enough to hop out at the circle and just wait for a pickup later on.  Ding ding ding - I did have an accomplice and it was right there on my phone.  $4 and 5 minutes later, there I was at my traffic circle.

Photography adventures via Uber

Photography adventures via Uber

All the sudden, I started to see the UBER app as a planning tool.  Using the "Set location on map" option when picking the destination, I could look at the map of intersections, cross streets, major landmarks and I could see potentially awesome vantage points that I would never have seen on foot or just looking around.  Tap tap... I'm there.

Obviously, the trips can add up, but this doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" sort of strategy.  Peppering in 1 or 2 ubers into an outing where you wouldn't have otherwise used it can make a significant difference... the kind of difference where you get a shot vs not.

Hope this helps someone :)


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