First, If you really want to know what it was like to actually be there, watch that video above, created by conference attendee (and Googler) Petra Cross. She captured it perfectly in this short, yet totally amazing 2,000 image stop-motion video!!!!

I met Petra during the conference (she’s very cool) and she even taught an “Un-Conference” session during the event on how she makes these videos. It’s not just the images she captured, its not the great post-processing, it’s not just the technique, or the editing — it’s ALL of it. She is one VERY talented photographer/videographer. Thanks for sharing this with us all. We love it!!!!

It kicked off the day before with photo walks all over San Francisco
I though it would be cool, seeing as this is a social-media based event, so start off with everybody making friends, so the day before the conference kicked off, we organized Photo Walks™ all over the city, led by the conference instructors themselves (that’s my group below, from our walk in the Golden Gate Park and the Japanese Tea Gardens. Photo by Brandon Ford).

I thought by getting these groups of photographers before the conference, they’d instantly make new friends and connections, and that’s exactly what happened. I tried to spend some time with everyone on my walk. I hardly shot at all, but I met lots of great folks, and then we headed to Park Chow restaurant for yummy food and conversation.

Wining and Cheesing
After the Photo Walks, it was off to the gallery for our Wine & Cheese reception, where we displayed the printed work of some of our most talented attendees. The venue was really cool, and their images looked amazing!  Besides the gorgeous prints, (all printed on Epson’s Exhibition Fiber Paper no less), their images were also displayed on huge screens around the gallery. Very cool nite (that’s Matt Kloskowski with Lindsay Alder), with some cool music, yummy cheese, great wine and lots of folks making new friends. (Photo by Matt Leitholt)

Well, it was a fun night except for this one thing…

That’s me, during the party, with RC’s iPad, running an App you never want to run: Find my iPhone. :( I walked into the gallery and it looked so cool I immediately grabbed for my iPhone to take some shots, and….it was gone. I had just used it in the taxi to give the driver directions from the Photo Walk to the gallery, and I guess it fell out of my pocket in the taxi at some point. RC had his iPad at the gallery (no surprise there, as it’s never less than an arm’s length away), and I logged in and started watching as my iPhone made taxi stops all over San Francisco. (Photo by Matt Leitholt)

I sent messages to the phone offering a reward to the driver for its return; I sent the gallery address, I offered bribes, sent signal tones — you name it. After about an hour, it eventually stopped moving for 30 minutes, and then sadly I made the decision it was time to “Wipe” the iPhone so I sent the “Kill” signal (knowing I would now have to buy a new iPhone. Uggh). I lost all my iPhone photos from Paris, and London, which was a drag, but I got everything else back when I synced my new photo to my laptop. I have to tell you — it’s a weird feeling to have lost your phone (I did have a passcode set, but still…). Well, off to bed — the keynote starts the next morning.

The Keynote kicks it off in style!
Here’s a shot of the theater where we held the keynote (photo by RC Concepcion). We kicked off the morning with two videos (both produced by our own Daniel Bryant). One the big dramatic cool graphic opener…and well….then we played this one we produced called:

Great Advice for New Photographer’s on Google+ ;-)

After the video (and all the giggle died down), I brought out our keynote speaker, Google VP Bradley Horowitz who gave us some insights into his role at Google and Google+ in general, and he did a great job kicking things off.

That’s Bradley on stage during the keynote. Really cool guy and very comfortable speaking in front of big crowd. (Photo by Brad Moore).

Off to Classes
After the keynote, it was off to one of our five classes going on at any given time:

(1) A big class in the Main Theater (same place where the keynote was held).
(2) The Forum (smaller classroom holding around 400 people
(3) The Screening Room (shown below) for more intimate talks
(4) Our FJ Westcott Shooting Lounge (where we held lots of interactive live shoots)
(5) Our One-on-one Portfolio Reviews room

My first class was a session on Shooting Sports, held in the Screening room, and it was totally filled to capacity before I even arrived to teach the session.

The following day, I was part of a panel discussion on the future of Photography Book publishing hosted by Nancy Ruenzel of Peachpit Press.  That’s the panel above (in the Screening Room): L to R that’s Colby Brown, Jeremy Cowart, Me, Peachpit Press Editor Ted Waitt, Dan Milnor from photography book publisher Blurb.com, and Nancy Ruenzel seated on the edge of the stage (photo by Sara Jane Todd). It was a fantastic panel with some real insights for people wanting to get their book published (and at least four people pitched some cool book deals during the conference).

Live Blind Critiques Done Live
Matt and I took our popular segment from “The Grid” and added Trey Ratcliff and Jeremy Cowart to what turned out to be a fantastic live session as we critiqued images submitted by G+ Conference attendees. Lots of great feedback on these sessions (the following day RC Concepcion sat it for me as I was on the Peachpit Panel during that time slot). (Photo by Matt Leitholt)

Live Shoots Everywhere!
This conference was packed with live shoots, many of them interactive, where the instructor starts the session and then turns it over to the crowd to do their own shoots. Here’s a session on product photography with Alex Koloskov and he totally rocked it. People were just blown away at the stuff he was doing, and as you can see, they got really up close to the action. (Photo by Matt Leitholt)

On Location Shoots
At the end of each day, we boarded buses and headed out to a cool location about 2 miles from the conference center to do location lighting shoots, with strobes, Spyderlites, and natural light and everybody gets to shoot at four different stations.  Matt did this motorcycle shoot with a large Westcott Spyder light — it’s continuous light so lots of folks could shoot simultaneously. We also shot a BMW (I did that shoot), then Erik Valind had a model with Spiderlights, and Jeremy Cowart did portraits and Natural Lights (that’s him above right with his crew). We did this both days and it was a blast! (Photo by Matt Kloskowski)

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes photo by Leonid Malashenok

The Missing Motorcycle Story
The first day, we had rented the green Harley you see above, but on the 2nd day, as I’m in a taxi on the way to the shoot, trying to beat the two buses packed full of photographers, and just literally 5 minutes from the location, Brad Moore calls from the location to say the guy can’t get his motorcycle to start and so we won’t have a motorcycle to shoot. I freak out just a little. Matt and I are in the cab, trying to figure out what our back-up plan is as we turn off the freeway, and we see a beautiful motorcycle parked in the street, and then I look and see a guy working on another motorcycle. I yell to the driver, “Can you pull over for a minute?” He does. Matt looks at me and says, “I’ve got this.” He jumps out. He’s gone for three minutes. He jumps back in and says, “He’ll be there with his motorcycle in 6 minutes.” That’s the awesome red bike you see in the first shot. Matt saves the day!

Above: Here’s Erik Valind and a professional model during his location shoot (behind the motorcycle shooting area). He’s using Spyderlites too, so everybody gets to shoot the whole time. Erik was fantastic and made LOTS of new fans during the event. (Photo by Matt Leitholt)

The Google Lounge
Google set up their own lounge in-between the classrooms, with free wi-fi, cool round chairs, and fun stuff (like a Google Photo Booth), and it became the hangout throughout the whole conference and the meeting place for business and fun. They themed the whole area with furniture, logos, pillows, it was just really cool (and very Googly). ;-)

Above: that’s a like 19-second video I shot with my iPhone from the 2nd floor overlooking the Google lounge (classes are in session so there’s not much going on at this point, but check out the impromptu photo shoot going on, on the stairs. The whole conference was like that — instant shoots and photo walks and people just shooting everything the whole time. Very inspiring and an awful lot of fun around every corner.

Above: RC during one of his live shoots in the Shooting lounge. (Photo by Leonid Malashenok)

Above: Google co-founder Sergey Brin holds a secret Photo Walk with some of the instructors and conference attendees to try out the revolutionary, but not seen in person before, Google Glass camera mounted to a pair of eyeglasses. Nobody expected this! (Photo by Brad Moore).

Above: RC gets to try on the Google Glass as Peter Hurley looks on. Hey, RC’s lunch look tasty! (Photo by Brian Matiash).

Sergey shocked the conference (and the whole tech world in general) by making an unannounced appearance on stage during the “What do you want next from Google+” panel where he showed shots made during his secret photo walk, and he demoed and explained the whole concept to a VERY receptive (and blown away) audience. (Photo by Brad Moore). 

Above: Peter Hurley so ROCKED his “The Art of the Headshot” session. He was a huge megabit!!! (and a super nice, fun, genuine guy in person). (Photo by Matt Leitholt)

Above: Here’s my grainy, blurry, kind of lame iPhone shot of a fantastic class! It was Fashion Photographer Lindsay Adler’s session on 5 new lighting set-ups and I sat in on the class and man did it rock! I learned a lot (and Lindsay is a fantastic presenter. She was five minutes into her presentation and the guy sitting next to me leans over and says, “She’s gooooooooooooddddddd!!!!” Great class, and I learned A LOT!!!

Above: That’s me during an updated version of my “Crush The Composition” Class. I absolutely loved teaching the class, because the audience was so “getting it” and really into it, and from a teacher’s perspective, it’s as fun and exciting as it gets. I totally loved it!!! (Photo by Leonid Malashenok)

The Bottomline
We’ve produced more than 25 Photoshop World conferences, and each one gets better and better, but I have to say of all the events we’ve ever produced, I honestly think this one was the best yet. Ask anyone who has been to a Photoshop World Conference, and they’ll tell you about the vibe and energy of the event. Believe it or not, the vibe and energy here was even higher. Through the roof. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

Everyone was fully immersed — fully engaged — from the Google crew, to the instructors to the vendors and the attendees. it was an amazing experience to be a part of, and I’m grateful to our sponsors, vendors, instructors, participants, and a BIG BIG BIG thanks to Google, our main sponsor, and without whom we never would have, or could have, done a conference like this. Thank you Francois, Jenny, Allen, Mike, Brian, Cathy, Vincent, Bradley, Sergey and all the great folks at Google who helped to turn our vision into a reality. And of course to my home team here at Kelby Media Group: Julie, Kathy, Dave, Erik, RC, Matt, Pete, Brad, Tom, and a special thanks to Kalebra who dreamed up some of the cool stuff we did but didn’t get to attend in person (but hey, our son rocked all his final exams, so she said it was totally worth it). :-)

It’s seriously cool to be a part of a history-making event like this, and I’m grateful to everyone who came out to join in the learning and the fun.