Scott Kelby and gang have launched the first ever Google+ Photographers Conference in San Francisco. I was invited to attend by the Kelby Media Group and am grateful for the invitation.
With the basics out of the way, I’ll say that I am not a speaker here and it’s been almost 15 years since I’ve been to a photo-related conference without being a speaker, organizer, etc. That’s been both fun, refreshing and odd for me. It’s been great not having any responsibilities but it’s also been odd not having any responsibilities.
Looking at the crowd that the conference has drawn, I can see that I would have been a bad choice as a speaker here. The crowd was very young, very hip, very cool and very San Francisco chic – and I am none of these things. I don’t fit in much. I’m very old, not very hip, haven’t been cool since Jethro Tull was together and any kind of “chic” would be the last word you’d use to describe me. That said, I think this group has something it can teach me. But I also think it says something about Google+ and it’s something I want to talk about in this post.
These young people have grown up with technology and something like Google+ is just perfect for them. By listening (not just to the speakers – but the audience) I’ve found that there is a willingness by these folks to share things I never would have thought to share. For instance one woman talked about how she liked to use Google+ to have people watch her post-process her photos and give her suggestions. Most of the younger people in the audience got very excited about this. Most of the people my age looked on in horror. There is such a thing as a bad fit and I came to this conference to see if Google+ can fit in my workflow. So far I am not sure, but let’s talk more about the conference while I make up my mind.
The sessions so far have been informal, fun and informative. There have been a variety of approaches provided and discussed which I think is a good thing.
Before the official start of the conference there were half a dozen photo walks around the Bay area for participants and a lovely reception and art show at the Temple – a local watering hole. The networking at the reception was amazing and worth the trip. The next thing scheduled was the keynote on the official first day of the conference.
The Keynote featured Scott Kelby and Bradley Horowitz, a VP at Google. While Mr. Horowitz impressed me as one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever heard speak, I think his opinion of Google’s dealings with photographers differs from mine. Google won an important court case giving it the right to use all the photographs online to make money in the form of returning them as thumbnails in search without compensating the photographers or gaining their permission. That turned into Mr. Horovitz re-writing history saying “Google has a long history of respecting photographers’ work and rights.”
That aside, the man had some things to say that mattered including where he sees photos on Google going. He intimated that there might be more to Picassa (as in they might develop something that competes with Lightroom and Aperture) and that an iPad app for Google+ may be in the works. Despite what I think about Google and their treatment of photographers, I left the keynote thinking that Mr. Horovitz is passionate about what he does and that many at Google are.
After the keynote, the conference broke down into several tracks and sessions. I wish I could have attended them all, but those I did attend (Trey Ratcliff & RC Concepcion on Hangout – Guy Kawasaki on branding, etc.) were very helpful.
There are a few vendors at the show but there’s no “trade show” per se. It’s very laid back. My pals at SmugMug are official sponsors and the guys from Viewbug and BorrowLenses are also in the house as guests. Other than the aforementioned, the people who are here seem more like the typical computer show crowd than photo conference crowd, but I have had several chances to get to meet people I really respect and admire like Michael Frye and Lindsay Adler.
While the conference continues today and wraps up this afternoon, the jury on Google+ is still out for me personally. What’s not in dispute is that Kelby and Company run a first-rate program. Everything has been well-coordinated, there’s lots to do, nobody seemed unhappy and no matter what I decide to do with or about Google+ I am glad Scott put the conference together. He and his crack staff have done a superb job and nobody can deny it’s a great show. I think it’s been beneficial to many in the sold-out audience. Even if that benefit ends up being that folks decide to move on to other social media tools.
Before I decide I’m going to try a couple of hangouts so stay tuned here at Photofocus for more information and if you’re really interested – “circle me” on Google+
Also – if you’re at the conference, at 4:15 pm today I’ll be meeting people in the park next to the amphitheater to show them the new Nikon D800E – this is an amazing camera when it comes to recording detail. My pals at Borrowlenses.com are hooking me up so bring your memory card and come take a few shots with this hard-to-find beast.
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