Archive for August 2012

Do You Even Have to Own a Camera to Be a Photographer Anymore?

Perpare

I just posted the photo up above on Flickr, Google+ and Facebook. It’s a diptych that I made with photos that I found on Google Street view. I really like the way it came out. I like the message that the random word spells out in the Wawona Tunnel in Yosemite. “Prepare.” It’s part of a longer message, Prepare to Slow I think, but in this context it means to prepare yourself for what you are about to witness immediately when you exit the valley side of the tunnel. One of the most famous and spectacular views in all the world. Of course a random photographer is photographing it — from sun up to sun down a camera is constantly on this view 365 days of the year.

In this photograph “Prepare” also has a secondary meaning of preparing for a new world of photography. A world of photography that is no longer bound by technical mastery or even a camera. A new more modern aesthetic of photography far, far away from the burning and dodging that Ansel Adams once did to perfection over hours spent in the darkroom. The new aesthetic is faux film as defined by Instagram, their new filters and mobile photography. An aesthetic where flaws are celebrated in photography. The purposeful broken Holga that lets the beautiful random light leak in. An aesthetic that has been made simpler with drag and drop technology, where algorithms quickly create your latest masterpiece.

Personally I’m excited about this new world of photography and art. I love it when artists push bounderies. Richard Prince pushed boundaries in photography and art by rephotographing Marlboro billboards and making the work his own. William Eggleston pushed boundaries by presenting fine art photography in color and exhibiting the mundane. Gregory Crewdson stopped pressing the shutter himself when he created his masterpieces, much to the chagrin of many a Nikon D800 weekend warrior. Andy Warhol had someone else sign his own work.

And what inspired me to create the dyptich above?

It’s the amazing work I’ve recently discovered by Jon Rafman. For those of you who are unfamilar with Rafman’s work, he is building a body of photography created entirely from Google Street View (exhibiting at Saatchi no less) — and these are some of the most creative and brillant photographs I’ve seen in some time (warning, prepare to spend a ton of time floating through Rafman’s images, there are many with and endless scroll).

I suppose the point of this article is to celebrate this new vision of photography where a camera isn’t even required any more. A new vision that is a great equalizer and the next step in the democracy of photography. A new vision that emphasizes the creative process over the tools and technique.

Birthdays at Google.com Shows Google’s Continued Commitment to Google+ in a Big Way

Screen Shot 2012-08-29 at 2.46.26 AM

“You say it’s your birthday
Well it’s my birthday too–yeah
You say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.”

— Beatles

Google is rolling out birthdays at Google.com. Basically each day when you go to Google.com you will see a list of people who you follow on Google+ who are having a birthday that day. This is so much bigger than that though. Not only will you see a list of people when you go to Google.com, you will see a list of people whenever you do a basic search on Google in any way period. If you type a search query into the Chrome box, if you use Firefox and type a search query into the search box, however you use Google for search, when you search (and are logged into your Google account) every way you search you’ll be reminded of birthdays going forward.

Google could have put this information anywhere on the web but they specifically, and strategically, chose to put it in their most heavily trafficked product of all. This is not the first time that Google has used Google.com to promote Google+. Some of you will remember the big blue arrow several months back on Google.com promoting Google+ — but this is more significant than previous usage because it’s a new commitment to using search *every* *single* *day* going forward to promote G+.

Back in May I did an unscientific poll asking if people would like to see a birthday feature on G+ like Facebook and it came back that about 60% of folks did want a feature like this. I love saying happy birthday to people and have been using Facebook over the past year to wish many people happy birthday on Google+ — which feels super weird and I also miss a lot of birthdays when I’m not paying attention. Now I can get this information directly from Google.

Google could have chosen to put this information somewhere on Google+, but they carefully chose instead to put it on some of the absolutely most valuable web space in the entire universe. Pay attention. This is important. I believe the reason why Google chose to put this information on Google.com is because they wanted a way to suck more people into Google+ who have inactive accounts. Even more than a fun feature to let you say happy birthday to your friends, this new feature is an irresistible advertisement sucking you into being more social on Google+.

Everybody and their brother has a Google+ account at this point. Google has been pushing it hard in a unified way across the entire company and every day thousands of new people sign up for google accounts to use things like gmail and end up on Google+ even if they don’t specifically want to be. This is a big number. Some of these people check it out, see that their friends are still over at Facebook and don’t come back. Others, like me and a huge part of the photography community, stay and make a home there and recognize it for what it is, the best, most functional, most lubricated social network in history.

You have to try Google+ for a while to get into it. It takes some effort. Most people are lazy and unlike early adopters need to warm up to something new. So a lot of people have Google+ accounts but are not super active on them yet.

But.

Everybody uses Google search. Everybody. And now anyone logged into Google (and this is a big number on any given day) is going to see a highly personal targeted advertisement for Google+ every time someone in their circles has a birthday.

Saying happy birthday to a friend is such a fun thing to do. We all want to do it. Just look at your friend’s Facebook page when it’s their birthday. It’s so full of great wishes. And when your friends wish you happy birthday, you have to say thank you back right? So this new feature will inject millions of new interactions between individuals into Google+ every single day. This is a hook bringing folks back into Google+. For many people they will say happy birthday and leave and not come back again. For some they will say happy birthday to four friends over the coming months and then these conversations will spark up and many, many of these people will be drawn into using Google+.

This may feel like a minor new feature, but it actually may be the most significant thing that Google has done yet to promote Google+. Using their most powerful resource to advertise for Google+ every single day going forward is a huge commitment. To those who question Google’s commitment to Google+ this should be a clear signal that they could not be more committed to Google+ going forward. Google is all in with this one.

There will probably be haters of this new feature even though everybody loves a good birthday. Google+ has had it’s naysayers from day one.

First there are those who are just lazy and don’t want to maintain another social network. Who cares if Google+ is better these people say, I’m already on Facebook.

Then there are those who see Google+ as a competitor to other places where they have built significant identities on the web. These are the folks who complain that Google is polluting search with all this Google+ nonsense. These were the same folks that complained the loudest about Search Plus Your World. For many of these people they’ve made significant commitments to their own blogs or other networks and Google+ is competition to this. They don’t like the fact that Google is pushing them to G+ if they care about search and SEO.

Finally there are the FUD people. These people still show up and will try to make arguments about how Google+ is a bad idea from some language plucked deep out to the TOS. Just watch, we’ll probably get a few comments from the tinfoil hat types about how Google is going to try and steal your photographs even on this very post (rolls eyes).

By the way, if you are one of the hyper privacy types be aware that sharing your birthday is not turned on by default. You get to decide exactly who you want to share it with. Maybe you don’t want to share it with anybody, maybe you just want to share it with people you are following. Maybe you want to share it with the world. Whatever you want to do the choice is yours.

The bottom line is that Google+ is here to stay. Not only is it here to stay, it is very likely going to be the dominant social network on the web going forward. Whether you are using Flickr or Twitter or Facebook ( I use all three by the way) it will be to your benefit to beef up your presence on Google+. Don’t underestimate Google’s power to continue promoting this network. The commitment could not be stronger and this feature should make that clear. The earlier you get on the more you’ll benefit from this amazing network.

About a month ago I watched a Google+ hangout done with Google Social Chief Vic Gundotra. If you missed this interview, check it out, it’s really informative. One of the things that really struck me in the interview was when Vic said that Google regularly thinks out 10 years in advance. 10 years in advance. Think about that. At the pace of new features that Google+ has been rolling out in the last year alone, it clear that this network will continue to evolve in some of the best ways possible going forward.

You can find me on Google+ at one of these slick new custom Google+ urls at http://google.com/+ThomasHawk

Oh and happy birthday btw to Angela Pan and Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter. 🙂

Photo Talk Plus, EP36 with Special Guest Tom Hogarty

Lotus Carroll and I had a great time this past Wednesday with panelists Chris ChabotJan KabiliJoe AzureKaren HuttonKeith Barrett, and our special guest Tom HogartyAdobe Lightroom Product Manager.

We discussed news stories, including 20 Pro Tips for Photographers on Google+ (http://goo.gl/2tLsx), the new Android Powered Nikon, and hidden view counts for your photos on Google+ (hint: you have to go to Picasa).

Tom gave us some cool demos in LR4 and answered questions for us about everyone’s favorite photo editing program. If you’re not using Lighroom 4, well, you should be.

After you watch the show, enter our contest to win one of two copies of Lightroom 4 from Adobe (each will come with a free copy of Trey Ratcliff‘s new and amazing LR4 Presets!). To enter all you need to do is make a post on Google+ and tell us either: your favorite feature we discussed on the show, make a feature request, or talk about how you will use LR4 if you win it. You must include the hashtag #LightroomPlus  in your post. You have until next Wednesday when we’ll pick the two best and announce those winners on our show that day at 8PM Pacific.

Congratulations to Billy Wilson, who won a copy of LR4 and Trey’s presets live on the show, courtesy of SmugMug (who also threw in a free year of their Pro Service) because they are one of our fantastic sponsors, who are also well integrated with Lightroom. We love them!

Big thanks to our other amazing sponsors, Adorama / http://adorama.comDrobo / http://drobo.com, and Blurb Books / http://blurb.com

Subscribe to YouTube here: http://goo.gl/JTyHn
Subscribe to our Podcast on iTunes: http://goo.gl/RBd0g
Follow us at Photo Talk Plus for more!

Could Klout Become a New Personalized, Cross Platform, Engagement Ranked, Relationship Weighted Media Feed?

The New Klout Dashboard
The New Klout Dashboard

Klout. Most of my friends tell me that they never check Klout, but secretly I know they all do. The website so many love to hate. Why do people hate it? Mostly because people don’t like the idea of a company presenting their value to the world based on something as superficial as popularity, even worse, *online* popularity. We are individuals, damnit, not a score on a website.

People also hate the idea that they are being judged by a number from a company that gets an awful lot of things wrong about you. Stories pop up about people getting turned down for jobs because their Klout score wasn’t high enough and this makes our eyes bleed red.

Most of all though, people hate the idea of Klout because it means work. The way to get your Klout score higher is to do more work, work, work on your social media accounts. Ugh. We barely have time as it is. People complain that they can’t go on vacation because they worry about their Klout score going down if they don’t tweet enough. Lame.

In the same way that folks groan when yet another social network comes along that they feel compeled to maintain, they dislike the idea that now they are going to have to put even *more* work into their existing networks in order to keep on top of yet one more thing.

Especially if someone is in PR or evangelism or marketing or advertising or really promotion of any kind for a living, they worry that that Klout could affect their perceived value in the marketplace. If someone is really, really good at PR (maybe even *because* they are not wasting time on Twitter 24 hours a day) do they really deserve that low score of 32?

For all these reasons Klout has a lot of haters out there. I’m not really one of the Klout haters though (even if they did recently downgrade my score from 86 to 78). I think free stuff (as long as it’s disclosed) is sort of cool. You’ll never see me say no to that free sample from the Costco lady handing out those sea salt and vinegar chips. I got a free airline ticket and a free computer from Klout. Klout gave me a Klout tshirt when I showed up at their cool SOMA offices to pick up the computer.

Klout Analyzes My Most Influential Social Media Posts in the Last 90 Days
Klout Analyzes My Most Influential Social Media Posts in the Last 90 Days

Michael Arrington blogged that earlier this year he wrote a post titled “My Detailed Thoughts On Klout” that contained a single word in the post itself: “Why?” — but now Michael Arrington has had a change of heart and has actually invested money into Klout.

I spent some time poking around the new Klout preview today and I think Arrington may be on to something.

Klout still gets a lot of things wrong. It says Verizon and Sprint influence me when they don’t. It thinks I’m influential about Friendfeed, even though Facebook bought them what feels like eons ago. It bases 60% of my score on Facebook, 14% of my score on Google+ and 0% of my score based on Flickr. My Google+ account is much more active than my Facebook account and I’m pretty active on Flickr too.

However.

Despite these flaws I think the new Klout may be the start of something much bigger than free moo cards. I think Klout could potentially become a powerful aggregator of the most engaged and popular media published across all networks by your friends. More than anything, to me the new Klout is starting to feel like a content discovery system in progress.

Kelli Seeger Kim's Influential Moments From the Past 90 Days
Kelli Seeger Kim’s Influential Moments From the Past 90 Days

Brad Sloan's Influential Moments from the Last 90 Days
Brad Sloan’s Influential Moments from the Last 90 Days

The new Klout has a new feature called “These are your influential moments from the past 90 days.” Here Klout tries to rank my content across various networks based on engagement. In my case they don’t do a very good job across all networks, it’s mostly all Facebook stuff when I’ve had more engagement on my G+ stuff, but it’s a start. They did cherry pick out some of my most highly engaged Facebook content.

Klout already knows who I follow on Twitter. They also already know who my Facebook friends are. I’ve also created a few lists on Klout which are likely some of my strongest relationships. So Klout knows a lot of the people who are important to me. They are also indexing the most engaging content by *these* folks as well on all platforms.

Now, how much harder would it be for Klout to mash up all of the most popular content by all of my Facebook Friends, Flickr Friends, folks I follow on G+, people I follow on Twitter, etc. and present me a feed of the most popular content by all of these folks across all platforms in a single feed?

What if… I then had a slider that I could use to set the time critera — the most engaged posts by my friends in the last 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, week, month, whatever. Klout could also analyze my cross platform relationships and my frequency interaction with various contacts to further refine and rank a Facebook type algorithm for what I might want to see.

There is no cross platform feed like this that exists today. Flickr has Explore where they aggregate popular content indiscriminately across all of Flickr, but it’s lame. It’s all stuff by people I don’t know and don’t care about and has tons of watermarks that I hate.

What if Klout gave me a personalized version of Flickr Explore, mashed up with my facebook feed, mashed up with a personalized “what’s hot” on G+ and the most popular tweets by my friends.

Klout’s new feed of my own popular content feels much more like a Facebook, G+ or Flickrstream feed than anything. Big, oversized versions of my photos and posts filtered by popularity.

Klout is suddenly starting to feel a little more interesting to me. How cool would it be if, in addition to claiming my perk box of Little Debbie honey bun snack cakes, I could also stay on top of all the best content by all my friends across all networks. That would be quite the pivot if they could pull it off.

Hey, Free Moo Cards!
Hey, Free Moo Cards!

In Arrington’s post about Klout he shares part of an email exchange he had with Klout CEO Joe Fernandaz, “In the end, my goal is to build a product that goes beyond the gimmicks and drives real value for everyone. I believe that every person who creates content online has influence to some group of people and on some topic. Everyone also wants to feel listened to and interesting and I think we can do this in a way that empowers people to become better, more effective, online citizens.”

A personalized, cross platform, engagement ranked and relationship weighted media feed sounds like it could fit right in with Fernandez’s description of the new Klout. Or maybe I should just lay off the crack pipe for a while.

Klout Knows Who My Facebook and Twitter Friends Are
Klout Knows Who My Facebook and Twitter Friends Are

Burnin’ Rubber

Burnin' Rubber

Photo Talk Plus, EP35 with Kelli Seeger Kim

Lotus’ write up on last week’s show. Join us TONIGHT for a special interview with Adobe Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty! 8PM PST http://vidcastnetwork.com

If you missed it last week live, watch it here now! Thomas Hawk and I were joined by our lovely and talented special guest, Kelli Seeger Kim as well as panelists Anna NguyenJeff MoreauMark RodriguezTimothy Jordan, and Milena Ilieva. (Keith Barrett was feeling sick, but he still broadcasted for us, even though he couldn’t panel – he is always awesome!)

We discussed several stories including new Google+ features (vanity URLS, slideshows, album downloads), the release of the new Canon 6D, new photo sharing site Medium, and the Portland Press Herald stealing a woman’s flickr photos and then paying her for them when caught (and more). Afterwards, we interviewed Kelli Seeger Kim, learning more about her photography and getting to look at it up close, discover what drives her passion and what she’s planning for the future.

Thank you so much to our amazing sponsors who support the show and the photography community. Check em’ out! SmugMug http://smugmug.comBlurb Books http://blurb.comAdorama http://adorama.com, and Drobo http://drobo.com

And make sure you tune into http://vidcastnetwork.com tonight night at 8PM Pacific when our special guest will be Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty! We’ll be talking about Lightroom 4 and you’ll even have the chance to win one of two free copies to be given away, as well as a chance to win Trey Ratcliff‘s amazing new Lightroom 4 presets, available here: http://www.stuckincustoms.com/lightroom-presets/ Watch the show to find out how. 🙂 See you there tomorrow night!

Subscribe to YouTube here: http://goo.gl/JTyHn
Subscribe to our Podcast on iTunes: http://goo.gl/RBd0g
Follow us at Photo Talk Plus on Google+

Walmart Censors My 2nd Post Asking Why They Censored My 1st Post About my Wife Being Mugged in Front of Their Oakland Store

Walmart censors my comment asking them why they censored my comment

Yesterday my wife was mugged in front of the Oakland Walmart Store. Her iPhone was stolen which honestly isn’t that big of a deal. It could have been worse. My daughters were in the car and watched it happen. They are six and eight and were upset by it. My wife is really sore today and a little beat up but mostly ok.

I posted a comment about this negative experience on their Facebook page which they censored. So I wrote a blog post about this whole sort of negative experience. After that I posted a link to the blog post asking if someone from Walmart could explain to me why they’d censored my original post. They censored this post as well. Nice work guys!

Still nobody from Walmart has said boo hoo to me or my wife about the incident. I think they should explain why they censored my post. I think they should explain why when they have a store with such a terrible reputation they can’t put a security guard out in front of it. I think they should explain why it took so long for anyone at their store to acknowledge the assault outside their store and why the manager tried to discourage my wife from reporting the incident to the police.

I don’t blame Walmart for my wife getting mugged. These things sort of happen in Oakland. I could always move out to the suburbs I suppose like a lot of other people. I do think that Walmart could do a little better job managing security around a store with an obvious problem though. Last quarter alone they made over $4 billion. Yes $4 billion with a B. You’d think putting a security guard out in front of the Oakland store wouldn’t be such a stretch for them.

I think they could also do a better job in social media. They clearly have time to respond on their Facebook page and appear quite active on it. They just don’t have time or care enough about this particular problem to do anything other than delete comments about it.

Social media is supposed to be about having authentic conversations. It also should be a place where customers can go and address real concerns and expect to be handled fairly and repsectfully.

In other super exciting news, Walmart has a big campaign out today that they are bringing layway back for electronics! How awesome is that, right? Now I can buy my wife a new phone now and not have to pay for it until after Christmas! woo hoo!

Thanks to the 369 people who retweeted the original tweet and shared the incident elsewhere in social media. It’s too bad Walmart can’t treat people a little more decently.

Hey Walmart, My Wife Was Mugged in Front of Your Oakland Store Today, Thanks for Censoring My Facebook Comment

My Comment on Walmart's Facebook Page
My Comment on Walmart’s Facebook Page

Walmart Deleting My Comment on Their Facebook Page
Walmart Deleting my Comment on Walmart’s Facebook Page

Update: I asked Walmart why the censored my post and they deleted my comment simply asking for an explantation as well.

Update #2: story on reddit here. To be clear — I am not blaming Walmart that my wife was mugged. I just sort of feel that having a conversation about putting a security guard in front of a problem store with a known parking lot issue for a company that made over $4 billion last quarter is not unreasonable. I also think the store manager could have handled the situation better. I think if Walmart wanted to delete my comments on their Facebook page about public safety at one of their stores that they could have at least taken 2 seconds out of their super busy day to explain why and their rationale.

Update #3: In hindsight I feel pretty lucky actually. I googled the Oakland Walmart store and found this article where a guy was shot and almost killed in a robbery in a Walmart parking lot a few miles away less than a year ago. No wonder why the store manager didn’t want her to call the police.

Update #4: Walmart never responded directly to me over this incident although they did repost my deleted comment on their website and explained to a reporter at MSNBC that they “accidently” deleted the comment because it tripped their profanity filter. They said my use of the word assault had “ass” in it, so it accidentally was deleted.

I came home from a wonderful day at the waterpark with my two boys earlier today to some terrible news. It turns out my wife was assaulted in front of the Oakland Walmart earlier today and had her iPhone stolen. My two girls ages 6 and 8 were in the car when it took place. My wife had her hair pulled out and tried to fight with her attacker — someone stepped in to try to help (who later said he didn’t want to get involved because you never know who her attacker’s friends were) but the woman took off in a car with a group of her friends with my wife’s phone.

“We’re never shopping at Walmart again,” my six year old daughter told me as I hugged her when I came in the house. She was still shaking even though all this had happened hours earlier. They never did end up getting the lunchbox they went there to buy for my 8 year old. My wife said Walmart was the cheapest place she could find the box my daughter wanted. School supplies for four kids are expensive these days.

I think what upset my wife the most about this whole ordeal was that this happened right in front of Walmart in broad daylight. She was within 50 feet of the store entrance. She told me that it took Walmart over 15 minutes to get involved. She said that they only got involved because someone came inside and went to the customer service area to tell the manager that there was a problem outside the store.

My wife said that the assistant manager told her that she didn’t know if the security cameras in front of the store even worked. The manager apparently didn’t want to involve the police and my wife said it was only after she insisted that the manager call the police that they were called. According to my wife the police viewed Walmart’s security camera footage, but the footage wasn’t clear enough to get a license plate number on the attacker’s car.

Apparently this Walmart has quite a reputation for being a bad place to shop. It’s review on Yelp has 2 stars with 178 ratings. Way more people have rated it 1 star (worst) than anything though. It’s reviews are littered with words like sketchy, seedy, scary. The reviews mention the problems in the parking lot over and over again. You’d think Walmart would consider putting a security guard in front a store with such problems.

I guess what especially bothers me though is that when I posted about this bad experience in a comment on Walmart’s Facebook page, how quickly it was censored away. It didn’t last more than about 10 minutes (see screenshots above) before they deleted it off the page. Did they try to contact me? No. Did they respond to my complaint in any way? No. Instead they just deleted it. They certainly had time to read it, delete it, but not the time nor care to even acknowledge that something terrible happened to one of their customers at one of their stores today.

Social media is supposed to be about having honest conversations. It’s supposed to be about customers and companies interacting in real and meaningful ways. Simply deleting comments by anyone who does not tell you how *AWESOME* Walmart is the opposite of this.

I guess maybe my six year old is right after all. Maybe we really aren’t ever shopping at Walmart ever again. Thanks for the censorship Walmart, it felt really great after today’s wonderful experience at your shitty Oakland store.

Legs in Red

Legs in Red

20 Pro Tips For Photographers on Google+

20 Pro Tips For Photographers on Google+

Google+ continued to grow last month. Although slowing a touch after June’s big run, it’s clear that Google+ is expanding as a major and important social network. Like most networks, those connecting earliest benefit the most in the end. It pays to be an early adopter as far as social networks are concerned.

Many different and independent communities are emerging on Google+. More than any other community, photographers have thrived on Google+. Every day millions of new photos are added to Google+ and photographers have flocked to the site to interact in many ways around their work.

Every now and again I hear from photographers saying that they just don’t get Google+, that despite seeing so many others succeed here, they just can’t seem to gain any traction. At the end of the day a basic tenant of any social network is that you get out of it what you put into it. None of us can expect to simply post our photos and have the abyss that is the world wide web immediately recognize our artistic brilliance and talent and propel us to new heights of exposure.

Social networks take work. They take tending to. They take activity and participation. With this in mind, I thought I’d share 20 Pro tips that might help you do better at Google+.

1. Consider not watermarking your work. Many photographers and viewers dislike having to consume watermarks and signatures. A person who posts unwatermarked photographs never alienates anyone. Someone who posts watermarked photos will likely alienate at least some. I know all the arguments about your work being stolen and all that — this post is not about how to avoid having your photos stolen though, it’s about how to gain exposure on Google+.

Lots of folks, like me, generally dislike consuming watermarks and so we don’t follow a lot of photographers who use them. For what it’s worth, it’s super liberating to stop caring about whether your photos are stolen on the web or not.

This is not a hard and fast rule, but if you’re not gaining traction on Google+ you may want to ask yourself is it me, or is it my watermark?

2. Respond to every question someone asks you on your photo. As you develop a following over time, inevitably you will be asked questions on your photos. What settings did you use? Where did you take this? Did you use a filter on this? Look for opportunities to interact with others on your photos. It’s your job to stay on top of the comments on your photos most of all. If someone asks you a question on your photo and you don’t respond to them, they probably won’t ask another one.

3. Use the +username feature on Google+ and ask lots of questions of others. Show an authentic curiosity and interest in the work of others. Google+ is not just a place for you to share your work. It’s a place for you to learn and grow as a photographer. If you have a question about a photo, ask it — and when you ask it, always +username the person you’re asking. If someone is super popular and busy, they might not always be able to get back to you, but a lot of people will get back to you.

By +username mentioning someone it creates a hyperlink to their name and it also sends them a notification in their G+ notifications and possibly into their email. I routinely go through my mentions (sorry I can’t keep up with all of them) and answer lots of questions that people have for me about my own work. If you comment on my photo without a +username mention there’s a bigger chance I might not see it. If you use the +username I’ll be more likely to see it. Don’t abuse this, but if you do have a question, don’t be shy. Ask it and +mention the person you are asking.

4. Participate in some of the photography related shows on Google+. Lotus Carroll and I broadcast Photo Talk Plus every Wednesday night. Trey Ratcliff’s Variety Hour is on Mondays. Life Through the Lens, The Photoshop Show, The Billy Wilson and Tibby Show. You can find some great G+ hangout shows on Keith Barrett’s Vidcast Network.

Many of these shows have chat rooms that go on when they broadcast live. Watch the show and chat with other photographers during the show. You’ll meet some of the most active photographers on Google+ and make new friends.

5. Sharing is caring. If you see something you really like, share it. The other day I saw this kick ass photo that my sister took of my wife and I shared it. You have to be careful about balancing your stream with your own work and shared work, but people love it when you share their work. When you share something, don’t just share it, add a note about why you like it and what caught your eye particularly.

Most importantly, +mention the person whose work you are sharing in your note about why you like their work so that they are notified that you’ve shared something of theirs.

Also be sure to +1 and comment as much as you can too. If you like something don’t be shy. +1 every single thing you like. If something stands out in particular comment too.

Don’t forget about mobile here either for +1s. One of things I like to do to work out is to spend an hour walking laps in the park near my home. It’s got lots of hills and I do 7 laps in an hour while listening to music on my phone. It helps to make the time go by faster for me to use G+’s mobile app and +1 some great photos by my contacts while I’m walking the laps.

6. Post regularly. If you really want to be active on Google+ I think you need to post at least once a day if you can. It’s easy. It only takes a few seconds to send a photo to G+. Build a folder up of work that you want to share so that it’s easily accesible on your computer even when you don’t have time and just pop a photo up regularly.

Nothing is a turn off like looking at someone’s G+ stream and seeing that they haven’t posted in 6 weeks. There are even scripts which people use to uncircle inactive people on G+. I try to post 5 photos a day spread out throughout the day on G+. This feels about right to me for what I do. You may not have the output I do or the inclination to post that often, but post regularly so that people know you are serious about using G+.

7. Fill out your profile as completely as possible. Have a creative avatar. Give yourself a description. Add in the other social networks where you have accounts. Take advantage of your photostrip on your profile page. Don’t just use the generic circle pattern that Google puts there if you don’t upload something. Here’s my profile. Your profile says a lot about who you are.

8. Don’t be a jerk, offer unsolicited criticism, troll, etc. Try to avoid negativity as much as possible. Don’t bitch about how something on G+ sucks, or how you can’t believe how unfair something is.

In fact, be super nice to everyone you meet. Be authentically positive. I’ve been on the web for over a decade and it took me a while to learn this one myself. Nobody wants to hang out with someone who is bitching all the time. If you feel you need to criticize something, do it respectfully, genuinely and make sure that a person that might feel criticized by your remarks knows that it’s not personal.

I don’t mind people who want to respectfully debate something, but yeah, haters gonna hate. Haters also gonna get blocked though. It’s so easy to block someone on G+. I block people all the time. Then you’re completely invisible to me.

Also, unless you know someone really well and know that they actually *want* your unsolicited criticism on their photo, don’t offer it up. Keep it to yourself. Yes, someone may actually want that, but a lot of people won’t — and if you don’t know them well enough to know what kind of person they are it’s best not to tell them that their HDR is garish or that they should go back to photography school and start over. Art is subjective, always remember that.

9. Don’t post gifs, crazy memes, stuff that’s being passed around Facebook and other stupid crap. People hate this stuff. They will uncircle you. If it’s *your* cat and *you* took the photo and *you* came up with the witty caption, *and* it’s caturday, maybe, just maybe, but otherwise avoid this stuff like the plague. The rare exception to this is if the meme is ABOUT someone in the community. Feel free to participate in these.

10. It’s YOUR job to get your friends here from other networks, not Google’s. Don’t be lazy. Don’t blame G+ for not getting all your Facebook friends over here. These people are your base. Don’t let them say no. Keep bugging them over and over again and get them on Google+. Post often on your other networks linking to your Google+ page and talking about how cool a place it is and how all your friends should come join you.

Many of my favorite people on G+ came here because I posted non-stop on Flickr about how much fun I was having on Google+. Make sure your profile pages on your other networks include a link to your Google+ page. Go on Twitter and Facebook and tell other photographers especially that they should be on G+. Write blog posts (like this one) about how great G+ is. There is only one person to blame for your copout that all your friends are on Facebook instead of Google+: YOU! Make it your personal goal to bring these people over!

11. Try to post your best work. Especially on weekday mornings. Nothing gets you followers like really well done work.

12. Keep an eye out for popular circles that are shared on Google+. If someone shares popular circles on G+, they are someone you might want to try and get to know. Don’t just ask them as a stranger to put you in their photographers circle — instead make it a point to try and get to know them, to try and interact with them. Hopefully this can happen authentically and organically. If you *do* get to know someone and know them well and they’ve just overlooked your work in their circle, maybe you can ask them then. Popular circles are one of the biggest ways to gain new followers on G+. Make some circles and share them yourself too. Don’t go crazy or overboard with this, but try it out.

13. Participate in active conversations. Look for active conversations on other people’s photos and participate on them. There is constantly a debate or conversation going on somewhere on Google+. Find it and participate.

14. Be funny. Everybody loves humor. Because of this everybody loves Michael Seneschal.

15. Participate in social games and activities. There are so many daily themes on G+ now. Some of them are really well curated and followed. #selfysunday, Macro Monday, Christa Rae’s Photography Scavenger Hunt, etc. Here’s a whole bunch of G+ photo themes for you to explore.

16. Developing friends on any social network takes time. Just like in real life. People need to get to know you a little bit first.

When I first met Gino Barasa I thought he was a stalker, hell, I still think he’s a stalker but a really cool stalker now.

Especially if you are male and the person you are interacting with is female there will be some natural tension there. Females get a lot of crap thrown at them online. There’s a lot of crazy people out there in internetland. Some people are creepy. Don’t expect everyone just to immediately recognize you for what a great guy you are. Don’t overdo it. Just be natural and be yourself. If someone doesn’t like you for some reason, don’t let it bother you. Lots of people don’t like me.

17. Make sure that there are photos of you on your photos of you page. This makes you seem like a real person. If nobody else has posted any, do a few self portraits yourself or put some family photos up that show you. This makes you feel more approachable and human. Don’t worry if you’re not a total hunk like Michael Bonocore, just get those photos of you up and you’ll be that much more inviting.

18. Participate in hanoguts and follow up. There are always hangouts going on G+. Don’t be shy. Jump into one. Introduce yourself. Say hello. Spend an hour or so just chatting with folks. Get to know them.

If there is someone who you find interesting, be sure to follow them after the hangout. Maybe even set up a special circle for “people I’ve done hangouts with” and make sure to go back and interact with their posts. Also look for G+ photowalks in your area. These are GREAT ways to interact in a highly personable way with people in the community.

19. Let people know more about you than just your photography. I’m a photographer, but I’m also a husband and father, a blogger, a caretaker of two awesome labradors. I love San Francisco and Oakland and great restaurants and food and wine and especially music. Share not just what you make but who you are.

20. *MOST IMPORTANT* Keep at it. Don’t give up. Charles Bukowski once said that endurance is more important than truth. I don’t know if it really is, but I’ve always liked the way that sounded. DO NOT GIVE UP. It will take you a while to build up friends/traction/an audience etc. This does not just happen overnight. Keep at it and I guarantee you if you plug into the community like I’ve described above and you are a genuinely nice and authentic person, you’ll end up getting a ton out of Google+ both for you and your photography.

Bonus tip for newbies. When you post your photos post them publicly. I see so many new people posting their photos to limited circles. Unless there is a specific reason why you *don’t* want everyone to see your photo, it will get more traction if you post it publicly. If your goal is to get as broad as distribution as possible for your photos, you are limiting friend’s ability to reshare them publicly or most of the world to even see them if you do not set the photo to public when you share it.

By the way, if you want to find some active photographers on G+ to get to know, be sure and check out my 2,000 Kick Ass Photographers on Google+ circle.

You can follow me on Google+ here.

Do you have more tips on using Google+? Be sure to add them here!