Using PechaKucha to Document Our Adventures by Jim Sutherland

Using PechaKucha to Document Our Adventures by Jim Sutherland

How many times have you come back from a hike, or a bike ride with dozens, hundreds or no useful photos at all!?  A couple of years ago I came across the PechaKucha style of presenting and it has changed how I try to document some of my adventures.

I will give you a short intro to PechaKucha and then describe some examples of how I have used it as a secondary school teacher as well as on one of my own rides.

Hopefully this short piece will inspire folks to try using PechaKucha to share their hikes and rides with others in a different way than usual.

PechaKucha Logo

What is PechaKucha?

First created in 2003 by Tokyo architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, PechaKucha, (Japanese for ‘chit chat’) is a style of presentation that is basically a slide show of 20 images where you have only 20 seconds to talk about each slide before it moves onto the next one.  This means that you have 400 seconds, or just under 7 minutes!  The idea behind this format is to encourage folk to be more focused and not ramble on about their project, holiday, hobby or whatever for too long.  There is a whole PechaKucha world wide community out there with PechaKucha Nights from Aberdeen to Albuquerque to Algiers

To dive in a little deeper please visit the PechaKucha site here.

How I have used PechaKucha

At the school where I teach I sometimes support groups of pupils on bikepacking expeditions as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  They usually have to plan and ride a practice expedition and then after time for reflection a qualifier expedition.  For the qualifier pupils have to deliver a short presentation with a theme to their Supervisors, peers and parents.  This often proved difficult for them, especially when it came to doing something different from ‘another PowerPoint’.  So when I heard about PechaKucha I shared this with them and it has certainly helped some groups collaborate better as they only have perhaps two or three 20 second chunks to deliver and also the presentation itself is less intimidating at just under 7 minutes.

For teams who were still finding this a bit challenging I suggested a 10x10 presentation which yes, you’ve guessed is 10 images with 10 seconds chat for each!

To describe how I have used PechaKucha I need to go back to my opening question: How many times have you come back from a hike, or a bike ride with dozens, hundreds or no useful photos at all!?  I never listen to music or podcasts when riding.  I am either paying close attention to where I want my bike to go or drinking in the beautiful landscape.  I enjoy sharing this beautiful landscape with others so sometimes I stop to take photos a lot!  This can mean that even on a local sub-2 hour ride I might come back with a load of photos.  If my ride is three or four days the ‘click count’ can easily creep up to hundred or so.  Depending upon the time of year editing, collating and sharing that many photos can take far too long.  So I tried to reduce the amount by only using my ‘camera-camera’ and not my ‘phone-camera’ as this required a bit more consideration about aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  This approach certainly has helped me grow as a photographer but it still wasn’t really that flowy until…  PechaKucha!


Screenshot of setting up the PechaKucha Presentation

A 20 mile ride might mean twenty shots taken on each mile, no matter where I was.  This helped me be creative with what I photographed.

A century ride could be journaled with a shot every five miles.  This was a bit of a sweet spot for me and the one that I persuaded a bunch of friends to try on the inaugural MorayTrailTwenty20.

We all agreed to only share 20 photos after our two day, 100 mile ride and record our 20 seconds description over each.  It was not a problem if folks wanted to take more, the deal was to create a PechaKucha for sharing.  I loved it as suddenly I had a flow to when I could take photos and a challenge to shoot what was right there at mile 70, no matter what.

Click here to watch my 20x20 presentation which I created using Google Slides.  Depending on which kind of computer or browser you are using it might be a little glitchy but it can be clicked on with the mouse if it doesn’t auto-transition.

Other possibilities

One shot a day on a 3 week hike - needs a lot of courage to only take one shot a day and even leave a day out.  Sometimes though we remember places and experiences more vividly if there are no photographic records.

Aim to photograph 20 different birds on an expedition and nothing else.

Take 10 photographs on the hour for a ten hour ride.

I will leave you to think of your own!

Reading next

40 Days of Rain or in Search of Noah’s Ark by Hawkeye Johnson
X-Pyr: Paragliding Across the Pyrenees by Kinga Masztalerz Pt. 1

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