Anyone Up for a DSLR Summit in San Francisco?

My friend Bill (DCVoyager on Flickr) sent me an email with an interesting idea today. Bill suggested that maybe we put together a meet up in San Francisco based on digital photography. He thought that if it was organized people outside of San Francisco might be willing to fly in to attend.

But I started thinking about that and what about taking it even further than this? What about organizing an actual DSLR conference in San Francisco? They have Web 2.0 and CES and Gnomedex and SXSW and all these other tech sort of conferences, why not organize one around digital photography? As far as I know there is not a conference based on digital photography that exists today.

Maybe Canon or Nikon or someone would want to sponsor it. We could keep costs as low as possible with a little sponsorship like this. We could invite the various photo sharing sites and people doing interesting things in the digital photography space, some top photographers, etc. and have a fantastic gathering in San Francisco.

We could maybe do some seminars on night photography, street photography, portrait photography or whatever during the day and also build several different organized photo shoots in the San Francisco around the conference. We have lots of locals here who know great places to shoot. Day shoots, night shoots, etc.

San Francisco is such a beautiful city to photograph and this could be a great way for people to come to San Francisco and shoot and experience it first hand.

If the conference was successful enough, maybe we could organize it as an annual event and hold it in a different city each year.

For those of you who read this blog and are not in San Francisco would this be something that you’d be willing to come visit for? Do you think it should be during the week or on a weekend? Who would you like to see as speakers or companies involved with this? My thought would be to open it up as much as possible and invite every company in the digital photography space who wanted to be involved to be involved. This would be more than just another Flickr meetup or geek dinner. The idea would be to organize a full fledged conference about all of the exciting things that we are doing with our DSLRs today.

Would love any feedback on this idea.

36 Replies to “Anyone Up for a DSLR Summit in San Francisco?”

  1. Not only do I think it’s a fantastic idea and wonder why it hasn’t been done already, but I would attend on a yearly basis and would love to help out with planning.

    1. I love the idea of organized shoots or excursions.

    2. Having it in a new city each year would increase the appeal, at least for me, because each year you’d have a whole new set of locals with knowledge of cool places to shoot. Going back to San Fran each year (while it’s incredible) wouldn’t be as appealing as going to, say, San Fran this year and then NYC or Boston next year.

  2. I would be interested in coming to this event even though I live on the east coast, but I do like the idea of moving it around to various cities, much like Wired’s NextFest.

    In a way this has already been done with workshops held by several photographers. There are several meetups all over the world as well where you can go, meet with other photographers, go out on the street and learn skills like shooting architecture or interacting with people for street photography, etc.

    I’m assuming you just mean a larger version of what has already been done with a hundred or so attendees instead of a dozen or so. I think this may be harder to do though as teaching is much better managed in a small group rather than a large group. Maybe if you break out into groups to do this with each group having a leader in the field. Or maybe having several choices such as night photography, portrait, etc. and each group have a leader or two.

  3. I live in WI, but I would definitely come out for this. I’ve been meaning to come to San Fran specifically to shoot (after seeing all yours and Fetching’s amazing photos) and this would be the perfect opportunity.

  4. I think it’s a great idea. I live in Sacramento and I’d definitely drive down to attend, as long as it’s on the weekend. PTO is more valuable than gold, so I couldn’t use it strictly on my hobby, as opposed to using it for an actual vacation.

    Internet photography forums tend to be equipment obsessed, so I really like your idea of focusing on skills and NOT on equipment. It’d be really great to add a couple levels of “Photoshop for Digital Photographers” courses in as well.

  5. Why limit it just to digital SLR owners / photographers? Seems you could garner more interest from Nikon and Canon if the event were open to all photographers, as they would have a wider audience to market to and build relationships with.

  6. I think it’s a fabulous idea. I would definitely do my best to set aside the time and do it. I’d think the DSLR manufacturers would get behind it, too.

  7. There is a group that sounds like this in San Diego ( We meet up at various locations of San Diego and surrounding areas. It’s free.

  8. has an annual conference in Massachusetts. Moose Peterson, Joe McNally and Laurie Excell (all top notch photographers) hold the Digital Landscape Workshop Series several times a year and there are many others. There is a need for more, just as long as you have topnotch photographers doing the talks/instruction/etc.

    Many of the seminars don’t have qualified people. There seems to be a bunch that represent themselves as expert professionals but are merely of the “those that cannot do teach” mentality and in my estimation they cannot even teach.

  9. Thomas,

    I would definitely come out for this! I live in Chicago, but have been wanting to go back to San Francisco for awhile. My first trip there was in 2003 and I had a great time but I did not own an SLR then. I been wanting to learn more about DSLR photography since I bought my Canon Rebel XT and love watching the Photowalk videos you have done!! Let’s hope this happens. I think in the Spring would be a great time to do this.

    Take Care,

  10. Sounds like a great idea to me. I’d consider coming from the UK to the event. I’d even be hapy to get involved with planning a UK version if this one goes well and has appeal to those in the UK. I agre eit should cover everything – DSLRs, compacts, printers, framing, software etc. This might get extra money in to keep costs down. Maybe even tie-up with someone looking to host a product launch too to get a few more marketing bucks.

  11. forgot to say that the event should keep a focus to get the appeal, but could have smaller ‘villages’ / retail areas that other services like I mentioned could be.

  12. Great idea. I’m out in NYC and would def head out to SF – always looking for new areas to explore.

    I like the idea of the organized groups, such as small group trips to different areas of the city with guides or something.

    Also, it would be cool to have a photographer guide to the city so one can explore different areas on their own based on their own preferences. Everyone could then upload their favorite photo from each area / category and we could have them printed in a book at the end.

    Tons of ways to make this interesting. I’d be there in a heartbeat.

  13. Thomas,

    A DSLR summit is a wonderful idea that I would even be willing to help you organize. I also would like to see it travel to a number of different cities and have a variety of seminars that people could take that might include everything from those categories you discussed to others such as forensic photography.

    If you wanted to also possibly involve other companies critical to digital photography like Adobe and Apple, I might be able to draw on some contacts there to see if there would be possible sponsorship/involvement from them.

    Let me know…


  14. Sounds interesting. Too bad you’re not an iStocker. The summit could be set up to double as a full-scale or mini iStockalypse event/shoot.

  15. Count me in (coming from Seattle). I’d like to see presentations on…

    1. Workflow
    2. Low light
    3. Night
    4. Composition

    That along with many themed photowalks would be great!

  16. Pardon the flickr reference, but it sounds like a sflickr meetup on crack 🙂 Which I’m always up for, if I’m in the neighborhood (which I’m not usually, living in another state and all). Having a really, really big one would almost be an excuse to go in and of itself … multiple locations would be a recurring draw (since the location is a conference attendee of its own).


  17. Awesome idea! There area number of different photo groups on from bay area that could also be pulled into this mix. I’m local to the bay area and would be willing to help coordinate! I might even be able to help with the sponsorship…

  18. Hi, I would come in from Milano, Italy, this probably makes me the ferthest away since now, does’nt it? Does this entitle me to a bed in one of the indigenous homes? 🙂

    I wouldn’t like the idea of being taken around on a photographers group tour, even if it’s probably a great way to stay toghether and know a different city, let’s face it, you can’t come to a site you don’t know at all, and pretend to shoot something good in a given time… and “good” for me means any picture with some character.
    I think most of the people involved in this conference would be photographers at some level, pro or amateur, so that anyone of us, I’m sure, all ready has a library of meaningful photographs.
    So why don’t we concentrate instead on post production work, all toghether in a room with a mac :-), working on the material we all ready have (raw photography seems created just for this kind of gatherings, and I find the meaning of “post-production” profoundly different when it comes to raw pics… don’t you)?

    There’s a lot to be said, and shared, about translating photography feelings and atmospheres into a picture, through adobe an aperture ect.

    I would also like to suggest to have a more informal and more partecipating structure, something like the barcamp setting, rather than a traditional conference setting, where you have an active member and all the others only ask conventional questions…

    Week days would work better for me than week-ends, but the trip for me woulod be so long, that it doesn’t really matter for me.

    Come on Thomas, make it happend, it’s going to be really great!

  19. Sign me up! I think this is a great idea. For a newbie like me to be able to walk around town with great photographers, this is a once in a lifetime (or perhaps once in a year) opportunity. I love the idea of spreading the wealth to other cities too.

    So when are we doing it? Perhaps in conjunction with another event?

    Jake McKee

  20. hey thomas. this is a great idea. it’s a lot like the photocamps i’ve been doing for the past couple years and talked to you about on Skype a couple weeks back. i’d love to see them happen all over the place and to be involved. we’d love to get you and other folks up for the one we’re planning in conjunction with northern voice in february… scoble and crew will be there again this year and it’s a real blast. in regard to your ideas… why limit it to DSLR or digital or SLR. why not expand it to others interested in film or photographics as well? we have a lot to learn from each other i think. anyway, great post and hope to see a community grow up out of these ideas! 🙂

  21. Brilliant idea. I’ve never been west-would likely extend my stay beyond the meetup. Keep us posted. Taking it to different locations annually would be very cool. Surely Canon and Nikon could sponsor some of it.

  22. I think this sounds fantastic! I would definitively consider going.

    I saw at least one other poerson mentioning workflow. I think that is really interesting. I would also like to have pros and cons of the different online picture services (e.g. flickr, zooomr, shutterfly).

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