Monday
Sep
2011
26

We are just 5 Days Away From My Worldwide Photo Walk

by Scott Kelby  |  14 Comments

We’re just five days away, and right now we have over 23,000 photographers signed-up for 1,100 local walks around the world this Saturday and Sunday, Oct 1st and 2nd. We are totally excited and amazed at the worldwide participation and sense of community this has created, and I can’t wait for my walk on Saturday to get here (and to see the images Sunday brings).

If you haven’t signed up for a Walk Yet….
It’s not too late. Here’s the link—find a city near you, and sign up to be a part of your local walk.

Seven Tips for Walkers
Last year, I gave seven tips for walkers to help you make the most of your walk, and I’ve got those here for you again. If you’re going to be walking with us this weekend, take a moment to give these  a quick read: I promise it’ll make a difference in your experience.

(1) Drink Plenty of Water
Make sure you take plenty of water with you and stay fully hydrated during the entire walk. Two hours is a long time to be out in the sun so make sure you drink lots of water before and during the walk. (TIP: Want to be a hero? Bring an extra bottle of water or two to share with other walkers).

(2) Use Sunscreen
If your walk is during daylight hours (and most are), make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen, and don’t forget to wear a hat for protection as well.

(3) Leave a Small Footprint
Make sure that you have as little physical impact on the area you’re walking in as possible. If you’re walk is in nature, make sure the area looks exactly the same when you leave as when you got there. Same thing in a downtown area—-we want store owners and pedestrians to welcome events like this, so be kind to everyone you meet, and create as small a footprint on your walk route as possible. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.

(4) Make New Friends
This is a social event, and everybody is there to have fun and make new friends, so make sure you talk with other walkers in your group. Ask them ‘what kind of stuff like they to shoot,’ or ‘how they like their camera or a particular accessory,’ or ask ‘if they’ve ever been on this street or area before,’ and you’ll have a conversation up and running in no time.

(5) Let Your Leader Lead
Your walk leader has put a lot of time and effort into planning the walk, organizing and publicizing the walk, and making the whole thing happen (after all; without your local Leader there might not be a walk in your city, right?), so don’t try and hijack the walk; let your Leader do the talking, and the leading, and that way you can just relax and focus on getting some great shots.

(6) Get To Your Walk Early
It happens every year; some people miss the walk altogether because they couldn’t find a parking space, or they missed the train or subway, or they ran into something that delayed them from getting to the start of the walk on time. It’s really heartbreaking to get there and find that the walk is already underway and there’s nobody standing there but you, so make sure you plan extra time to get to your walk’s Starting Location, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress (and possible heartbreak) by getting there early. Plus, if you get there early, there’s extra time to make friends before the walk even starts—maybe you’ll make a “walking buddy” who’ll share the experience with you.

(7) Play it Safe
The single most important thing is your safety during the Photo Walk. Don’t get distracted by what you’re shooting or seeing, and back right into the street, or into another photographer (or just a person walking down the street). Keep your wits about you, and remember than many of you will be shooting in a downtown area, on crowded sidewalks or busy streets, so just stay alert the entire walk, and look out for other walkers as well. Also, don’t wander into any areas or alleys that may look the least bit unsafe—stay with your group—there’s safety in numbers, and of course always keep a close eye on your camera gear and personal items.

Also, make sure you check out the Official World Wide Photo Walk Facebook Page (here’s the link) for more walking tips and also you can follow the official walk on Twitter using the Hashtag #WWPW.

See you guys this weekend as we make photographic history!

Friday
Sep
2011
23

Why All The Fuss About “Google+”?

by Scott Kelby  |  58 Comments

I absolutely love Google+
As far as social media goes, I’d much rather post there than anywhere, and I hear that same sentiment all the time from other photographers on G+. In fact, I find myself posting there more than anywhere, and in just a few short weeks the number of people of follow me on Google+ blew right past the number of people who follow me on Facebook (and I’ve been posting regularly there for almost two years).

Although Google+ (which had been in a semi-private beta testing period) is only about three months old, the day before yesterday Google+ (G+ for short) opened their doors to the public and now anybody can have a G+ account (it’s free), so today I thought I’d share what I love about Google+, and why I think it’s such an amazing community for photographers. Plus, I’ll give you some great folks to follow on Google+, too!

G+ knows how important photos are to….well….everybody
That’s why when you post an image, it appears much larger—right on your page—- that it does on Facebook or Twitter, and if you click on it, it opens to an even larger view with a black background, and you can easily see the EXIF data on the photo by clicking on the Actions button. It’s a beautiful way to show your images, and once you see it, you immediately understand why photographers like it so much.

It’s easy to find other photographers
When you first join Google+, it recommends people to follow in lots of different categories and that includes a category for photographers. Plus, there are already lots of lists out there leading you to active photographers on G+, so finding people to add to your circles is easy.

How it looks matters to us
I think another one of the things that attracted photographers to G+ is the overall look. The interface looks great, and how things look really matters to creative people. The visual nature of the way you put people in “circles” (kind of like Facebook’s group, only much more visual and easier to use), really attracted me right off the bat, and the whole thing feels very well thought out–very visual—very easy to use.

It’s very much like having your own blog, without the hassle of having your own blog
You can make posts like you would on a blog, and people can comment just like they do. You’re not limited to a certain number of words (like Facebook or Twitter), and if you write a post, and you make a mistake, or want to edit, delete or add something, you can actually do it (without having to start from scratch).

Google+’s Terms of Service don’t punish photographers
They clearly tell you in their Terms of Service—you retain your copyright: “11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.” Besides, do you really think Google put this elaborate master plan together just to “steal” your photos? (wink).

Their photo stream is awesome
I’m one click away from seeing lots of amazing photos, presented in a way that make it really conducive to browsing great photography (I feel it does this much more so than Flickr by a long shot).

From a “content creator’s” standpoint, I feel it’s much easier and more flexible than either Twitter or Facebook
It gives you options and features that neither one has, and it’s too much to go into here, but once you start posting there…you’ll see what I mean.

It’s not going to replace Facebook
My friends are on Facebook. My family is on Facebook. Facebook isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But I’d be worried if I were Twitter. I used to really enjoy Twitter, until I started using G+. I know a lot of folks out there still love Twitter, but G+ gives you lots of freedom whereas Twitter imposes lots of rules. It’s very text-oriented, and text-based. It’s like a Web site of text messages, and sometimes it feels very….well…DOS-based. G+ gives you the freedom everybody says they’re clamoring for. I find myself using Twitter less and less. I’m not alone.

Google+ adds improvements and enhancements almost daily
It’s been around only 90 days, and I just recently read where they have already released more than 100 user-driven improvements and tweaks. What other company is doing that anywhere? Flickr feels like someone has poured a gallon of molasses over it so it never moves. Ever.

I feel like G+ people are more engaged
If I post something to G+, the response is immediate, the numbers are big; it’s engaging, the people are very civil and friendly, and it definitely has a really great vibe.

Great photographers are already there, and they’re posting great stuff
Photographers like Trey Ratcliff, John Paul Caponegro, Frank Doorhof, Catherine Hall, Colby Brown, Robert Scoble, Moose Peterson, Jeremy Cowart, Terry White, Thomas Hawk, Joe McNally, Brian Matiash, and of course all my crew: RC, Brad, Pete, Dave Cross, and Matt Kloskowski. I also follow people like Guy Kawasaki and Leo Laporte who cover everything tech but also have interesting posts on everything!

If you’re new to Google+, make sure you read this:
Colby Brown wrote an essentials guide for photographers new to G+. I read it as soon as I started posting there, and I really found it invaluable. Colby just updated it big time, with all the latest stuff. Once you sign up, read this next (you’ll be glad you did). Here’s the link.

There’s more to G+ than just photography
It’s a new social media platform, so they have everybody from Hollywood Celebrities to scientists to athletes, so it’s attracting everybody (and they are breaking records with the number of people who’ve joined G+ in such a short time), and people who are in those circles may not even realize that photographers are even on there. G+ is big (with 43 million+ users already), and getting bigger every single day. Don’t be the last one to get on board and think, “Man, I should have done this a long time ago.”

I hope you’ll follow me there, too!
Although I still post to my Facebook page and to Twitter, I have to be honest—Google+ has won my heart, and I find myself posting more there, and wanting to post more there, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. Here’s where you can follow me on this great community for creative folks…like you:  http://kel.by/onGplus

Thursday
Sep
2011
22

Follow me on Google+ (it’s now open to everyone!)

by Scott Kelby  |  9 Comments

Hi Gang: Google+ (which I just saw today referred to as “a photographer’s paradise” by another G+ user), is now open to the public, and I’d like to invite you to follow me (well, add me to your circle) there.

I post more often there than anywhere else, because the whole community and concept is so conducive to photographers, and if you haven’t had a chance to try it…well…now’s your chance. Plus, it’s free which is sweet!

Here’s the link to my Google+ page.

http://kel.by/onGplus

I hope you’ll stop by if you get a chance. :)

Cheers,

-Scott

Wednesday
Sep
2011
21

It’s National Geographic Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Joel Sartore!

by Brad Moore  |  17 Comments

As a National Geographic photographer, I often focus on animals that are out of the spotlight. It could be a rare stream fish, a tiny plant or even an insect. I choose things that are in trouble, often at the hand of man, in order to help them out; my photos are often the only national attention these things will ever get. So, I’m really on a mission to let the world know about “the least among us” before it’s too late.

A couple years ago, I did a story for NGM on the Endangered Species Act. From that came a book called Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species. While all the images in the book have a story behind them, two stand out in particular.

The first concerns our only federally endangered fly. What good is a fly, you ask? If you eat fruits and vegetables, and have heard that bees are in steep decline these days, you would know the answer already: flies are very important pollinators. Besides, if we’re pushing even flies to extinction, what does that say about the health of everything else we share the planet with? When we save endangered species, we’re actually saving ourselves.

Logistically, this fly picture was quite hard to get. The animal is quite rare. In fact, it took 4 1/2 months just to get a federal permit for a biologist to catch one so I could photograph it. Once we got our permit, I waited for the call that some had been spotted on one of the last vacant lots where they live in southern California and then drove a mobile studio from my home in Nebraska all the way out to Los Angeles. We were allowed to catch only one, by the way, so if it got away during the shoot, too bad. Neither the biologist nor I slept a wink the night before. Despite our nervousness, we got our fly pictures.

The second image that stands out for me is of an animal that’d I’d known of and wanted to meet since I was a little boy; the California condor.

I’d read about the condor back in the 1970′s while in grade school. The largest flying bird in North America, it hovered close to extinction for decades. At its lowest, it numbered fewer that 20 individuals. It was the ultimate endangered species.

Through captive breeding, biologists have now pulled this bird back from the brink. Though still quite rare, today it numbers more than 300 individuals, with many flying free again in California and the Desert Southwest. Talk about life and death, this was high drama indeed.

Getting access to such a high-profile species wasn’t easy though. I’d been doing studio portraits at dozens of zoos around the country for many years when I got a call from a friend at the Phoenix Zoo. Seems a condor had flown into the Navajo Bridge and had broken its wrist, meaning it would be unable to fly again and would either be kept as a breeder or an educational bird. It was being kept in a recovery pen there for a few weeks with its broken wing wrapped, so if I could get there, the zoo folks said I could photograph it. I went right away.

I set up a couple of softboxes and a piece of black velvet in the back of its pen and spent about 20 minutes with him. The bird was enormous and ancient looking. During the shoot, the condor looked this way and that, confident, not scared, and not really that interested in me or the camera in my hands. But he did give me one moment, a few seconds where he looked into the camera lens and stared intensely. Perhaps he simply saw his reflection, but that look, and the fact the bird had a beautifully-colored head that’s really unusual, made this one of the most popular photos in Rare.

For me, the opportunity to photograph the bird was both a thrill and a great life experience — I’d finally gotten an audience with the most famous of all endangered species, the bird that I’d been thinking about literally since childhood. It doesn’t get any better than that.

You can see more of Joel’s work at JoelSartore.com, follow him on Twitter, find him on Facebook, and keep up with him on his blog. Signed copies of Joel’s book, Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species, are available here or by calling 402-474-1006.

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