Photographer's club covers all the angles
Joe Lippeatt isn't interested in nature photography, landscapes or other standard tropes.
"I don't do kittens, flowers or birds," he said. "I want to take pictures that most people wouldn't think to take."
Lippeatt is the organizer of a group called Houston Photowalks, a collection of more than 1,350 amateur photographers of varying skill and experience levels who gather a few times a month to take pictures together. The group travels to local events, taking hundreds of shots of the same setting from different perspectives.
For Lippeatt, group photography is both a chance to learn from others who share the hobby and an impetus to get out and shoot.
"It's easy to buy a nice camera and never leave the house. But if there are 30 people waiting on you to show up, then that's a reason to get your butt off that couch," he said.
The slogan of Houston Photowalks, "interesting and unusual," models Lippeatt's no-kittens philosophy. He makes a point to organize unique walks for the group. Past trips have been to places ranging from car shows to the Texas Prison Museum. Lippeatt's personal favorite outing was a three-day trip to the historic city of Navasota.
He often works in a surprise element to his events. A trip to the antique shops on Westheimer Road, for example, took place during the Houston Zombie Walk, unbeknownst to everyone in the group but Lippeatt.
"They think they're taking pictures of antiques, and the next thing they know, there's a line of people dressed like zombies walking by," Lippeatt said with a laugh.
The evident enjoyment Lippeatt gets from photography began at a young age. When he was 11, his father bought his mother a 35-millimeter camera that she rarely used.
"I grabbed it, and I got the camera bug, and I've been taking pictures on and off since then," he said.
"Photography is my fishing," Lippeatt said, describing how his hobby fills his free time. "I have a really nice camera, and I bought a camera because I don't want a boat."
The group celebrated its third anniversary at the end of July with a dinner at Cafe Adobe and have more ambitious photography events planned for the future. A weeklong cruise in Alaska in September will mark the group's farthest-flung expedition yet.
The work of the photographers in Lippeatt's group can be seen at their website, houstonphotowalks.com. In the past, semiannual multimedia showings of the group's work have been put on at the Alamo Drafthouse. Lippeatt says he could use more volunteer help, both to organize more screenings and to keep up with the demand for group events.
NAME: Joe Lippeatt
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: He lives in Bellaire and works as a developer at Bridgeway Software.
FAST FACT: Lippeatt and his wife run the autismhouston.com support group.
Will Livesley-O'Neill is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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