Ahead of the second Google+ photo walk, we had the opportunity to ask Brian Rose, Google+ photos community manager, a few questions about the platform and photo walks in general.
A photo walk is an event where photographers of all skill levels and expertise get together and take shots. Given the popularity of Google+ as a platform for photographers to share and critique their work, it seems a natural fit for Google to get behind an event of this scale.
The second Google+ photo walk is being held on Saturday, 31 March, in various locations and most capital cities across Australia. Photographers need to pre-register at this link in order to receive a T-shirt and other goodies. For updates on the walk, make sure to add Michael Sutton and Brian Rose to your circles and follow the tag #thewalkdownunder.
I will be at the Sydney walk as well, so make sure to say hello!
CNET Australia: what is your background as a photographer?
Brian Rose: I shoot mostly street photos walking around Santa Monica, where I live. At any given time, my freezer is usually stocked with more film than food. Photography is a healthy obsession, and I love viewing other peoples' photos as much as I love shooting my own.
What happens on a typical Google+ photo walk, given you've seen a few of them around the world?
Photo walks are an opportunity for people who love taking photos to come together, make new friends and have fun. They range anywhere from groups of just a couple of people, to a couple of hundred people at our larger photo walks. We'll meet up and say hello to familiar faces and welcome all the new ones, take a group photo, then start a walking tour for a few hours. Along the way, the photo walk host usually points out a few specific shots or locations they're interested in. When the photo walk is over, we usually end up at a cafe or bar. It doesn't ever feel like it, but you'll walk a few miles and work up an appetite in the process.
Can you give some advice for photo walkers as to what equipment or tools they should bring with them?
All you really need is something to take photos with, and comfortable shoes. Photo walks aren't just for people with fancy dSLRs. I met a kid who was taking photos with his Gameboy, the last photo walk I was at a woman was using a handmade pinhole camera.
Why do you think Google+ has taken off so much as a platform for photographers to share their work?
We make photos to share them and what we've seen on Google+ that's really special is that people who weren't sharing with each other are now really comfortable with each other. You had friends sharing photos of friends with friends. And you had professionals who could share their work with the public really easily, but basically could only have a fan-follower relationship. Now it's hard to tell the difference between who's a star and who's not. People like Trey Ratcliff and Thomas Hawk, who have more than 1.7 million followers already, mix easily with people who just want to know how to use their cameras a bit better and other people who want to buy a print. So the photos look great, but the friendships formed around them can be even stronger.
Does feedback from Google+ photographers and users end up inspiring changes to the platform?
We've made close to a change a day across Google+ and many of those involved photographs. But a lot of innovations that weren't linked to the photography community ended up being really valuable to it. Hangouts make it easier than ever before to share photos you really like with people miles away and discuss everything from equipment to composition.
What are some of the most innovative ways you are seeing Google+ used by photographers?
Some of it just comes down to how quickly and widely things can be shared, mixed with how quickly relationships can be formed. In December, Paul Pichugin from Perth posted a photo of a lightning strike that spread across Google+ like wildfire. That resulted in him making a few sales and getting published in The West Australian. A few months later he was on the beach in Australia showing how the moon looked as it hovered over the ocean while people whole time zones away, who have disabilities, watched via hangout. It's hard to imagine how that group of people would have come together in any other way.