The Alcove Group’s Photo Walk: Discovering Calgary’s Hidden Gems

On a sunny afternoon on January 27, I joined The Alcove Photo Club’s Group Photo Walk, an adventure through Calgary designed to refine my photography skills and offer a new perspective on the city. Read on for my honest review of the experience.

The Alcove Group's Photo Walk: Discovering Calgary's Hidden Gems
Photo of Corridor of Connection in East Village by Jessica Gray.

Led by Dennis Lee, the co-founder and executive director of Alcove Centre for the Arts, the event drew together a diverse array of photography enthusiasts—each bonded by a shared passion for creativity and community.

As someone new to this gathering, the immediate warmth and camaraderie offered by Lee and the rest of the participants made the atmosphere strikingly comforting.

The space, infused with the inviting aroma of hot tea and the sight of photo books scattered around for inspiration, set the perfect prelude to an afternoon of exploration.

The walk commenced with eleven individuals equipped with everything from professional cameras to smartphones. Their intentions revealed shared interests: enhancing photography skills, forging new connections, and experiencing the city anew.

The weather was gracious, offering a mild backdrop perfect for the day’s venture. Armed with my iPhone, I was ready to uncover and document Calgary’s unique scenes.

Despite the varying levels of expertise among us, from seasoned photographers to complete novices, there was a palpable sense of inclusivity.

Navigating through Calgary’s architectural landmarks and vibrant streets, such as Stephen Avenue and First Street SW, we embraced moments of both togetherness and solitary exploration.

Amid the bustling city life, some sought permission to photograph strangers, adding a layer of human connection to their artistic pursuit.

This collective journey through downtown Calgary, punctuated by sightings of a photoshoot in progress and impromptu music performances, underscored a simple, powerful message: the act of creation is a unifying force. The Alcove Centre for the Arts, under the visionary leadership of Bethel Afework and Dennis Lee, champions the essence of this message.

Founded in 2020, The Alcove emerged from a shared dream to carve out a space that fosters creativity, connection, and community. It is a beacon for those seeking to immerse themselves in artistic activities within a supportive and accessible environment.

Crafting a recreational art space, The Alcove actively dismantles the barriers to artistic expression through a vibrant array of workshops and community events designed to cater to all ages and skill levels.

The Group Photo Walk, a reflection of The Alcove’s mission, was not just an occasion to practice photography but an immersive experience highlighting the joy of communal artistic exploration.

Lee underscored the importance of engaging with our surroundings and each other with his welcoming demeanor and infectious enthusiasm. This notion of connection—be it through light conversations, shared experiences, or the simple act of witnessing the city’s pulse together—was a recurring theme.

As we navigated the downtown core, the diverse sights, from the architectural grandeur of the Jack Singer Concert Hall to the vibrant hues of Chinatown, offered a palette of inspiration for budding and seasoned photographers alike.

The Alcove Group Photo Walk transcended the conventional bounds of an artistic event by weaving together threads of creativity, exploration, and community engagement.

Regardless of their background or level of expertise, each participant contributed to a tapestry of perspectives that celebrated Calgary’s dynamic spirit. It stood as a poignant reminder of the power of art to bring people together, offering a rare opportunity to make friends, share passions, and marvel at the beauty of everyday life.

However, it is important to note that this event may pose challenges for individuals with physical disabilities and those with difficulty walking for extended periods, as the walk spanned nearly two hours and included various terrains and stairs.

Nevertheless, the Group Photo Walk, facilitated by the dedication and warmth of individuals like Lee, embodied more than just a pursuit of photography. It represented a profound celebration of life, art, and the enduring connections that emerge when we come together to share our vision and voices.

Get out, get connected, and harness your creativity. The Alcove offers diverse monthly workshops and events to nurture creativity and build community. Participants are encouraged to pay what they can, ideally between $10 and $15, to cover the costs of facilitation and materials. These gatherings provide a perfect chance to learn, connect with others, and engage with Calgary’s vibrant creative scene.


About Josie Simon 11 Articles
Josie Simon (she/her) is a writer, passionate LGBTQ+ advocate, and lover of the arts. As a former dancer with a keen eye for detail, Josie brings a unique perspective to her writing. She is a current fourth-year political science major at the University of Calgary and has previously contributed to the Gauntlet.