#38: Walking Loops and Lines

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Hello! I bought film this week, including some Instax for the first time in a few years. I’m excited. I love film. It’s a pain. It slows down the process (except Instax which is . It’s great.

If you recently signed up or this caught your attention through Twitter, I’m Bryan Formhals, and this is my weekly newsletter on walking, New York City, photography, maps and the creative process.

Walking & process: Walks have a shape. They are sculptural. It can be tough to recognize when you’re in it but when you get some distance you understand. I’ve been fascinated with the view from Strava since I started recording my walks on a regular basis. My walks have two primary shapes: the loop and the line. I suspect this is the same for most people, unless of course the walker is intentionally creating shape like the profile of Frida Kahlo.

Loop walks are the standard for me when I’m home in Queens. I start at my apartment and end at my apartment. Sometimes this will include walking into Brooklyn, the Bronx or Manhattan, but usually my loop walks are in Queens. When I start out in the other boroughs or in the Hudson Valley, the walks are often lines. I start at one train station and end at another. A straight shot. I enjoy both types of walks. The last few weeks I’ve been thinking about the loop walks in Queens as I edit the photos I’ve made here over the last eight years. Thinking about the loops has me thinking about the photographs differently, and that’s the type of connection I seek. The process is all about finding the clues. Sometimes they are too obvious to see clearly at first.

Do you walk in loops or lines or both? Or maybe you have a cool project to share? Drop me a line info@bryanformhals.com

Walking & social media: Have you seen the viral meme of the owl running to the camera? I Tweeted my version with the comment: “When I overhear someone talking about walking and photography.” (trust me it’s funnier when you see the tweet but embeded tweets with videos don’t work on substack so you have to click through)

A rare time of successfully participating in a meme. But! The best part was that Alisha Doody tagged Ellie Berry in her response. I did not previously know of Ellie or her work, but when I clicked through, holy smokes, what a surprise. Tough Soles is her project with Carl Lang, and it’s amazing. This is why I still have faith in social media. Post a silly meme, get connected to inspiring work relevant to my interests.

There are 42 National Waymarked Trails in Ireland, with a total distance of around 4,000km. Between 17th April 2017 and 28th July 2019, Ellie Berry & Carl Lange walked every National Waymarked Trail, becoming the first people to ever walk them all.

Photography & social media: Interesting that newsletters weren’t an option! That would be my top platform for sharing these days (thanks for reading!) I’m also interested in using Twitter more for sharing photographs. In 2018 I experimented with using a Twitter thread to share a project and it received good engagement. I haven’t tried since, primarily due to my existential photography crisis.

Basically, I don’t know what to share. I could dig into the archive. That’s an option. I could post photos and add some commentary. Or wait until this new project is more fully developed. I’m probably over thinking it. I’m also not happy with my Instagram feed so I’m going to clear it out and start over and just post my best photos randomly. Create a mosaic rather than a stream of projects as I’ve been doing. Did I mention I’m probably over thinking it? Analysis paralysis.

Archive: I’ve always made botanical themed photographs. I’ve been slowly working my way through the archive, making an edit of color photographs that resonate with my current ideas. Trees and plants and maps and walking. They all connect.

Further Reading

I’m a photographer, editor and creative collaborator working in New York City. You can email me at info@bryanformhals.com or follow me on Instagram & Twitter

This newsletter is a weekly digest mixing updates on my current projects with the articles and media that catch my attention during the week. Topics I’m focusing on these days include walking, urbanism, New York city history, news about photography and photobooks, the attention economy and existential dread.