William Eggelston’s Advice on Photographing Strangers

Pure.

Fucking.

Gold.

Q: “You never got your ass kicked for taking a picture?”

A: “Occasionally I will. But usually what I’ll say is, [in an overtly upbeat, ingenuous voice] ‘May I take your picture? I’m from Memphis!’ I have found that always works. They say, ‘Oh, sure’. There’s some magic about that, ‘I’m from Memphis!’ I just stumbled on it. Nobody told me that secret. You can use it yourself. Just say, ‘Hey, I’m from Memphis!’ For some reason they know that word ‘Memphis’. You could say some other city, I don’t think it would have the same ring to it. Say, ‘I’m from Savannah’, I don’t think that would work.”

Q: “It works overseas, too?”

A: “Oh, yeah. Memphis is one of the few places… you could go to Tibet, and say ‘I’m from Memphis!’, and they’d say, ‘Ohhhh, Elvis!’ You couldn’t say any other name. Jesus Christ they never heard of…”

The Condition of Music

Don’t Wait Until You Lose Your Photos for the First Time to Begin Working on Your Backup Strategy

“Because I’m a jerk who doesn’t back up data, I’ve lost at more than a year’s worth of photos, emails, documents, and more. And, really, who knows what else.” — Mat Honan

Mat Honan was hacked yesterday and apparently lost more than a year’s worth of his photos. Like Mat, I too have lost photos in the past. If you shoot enough it’s almost inevitable, unless you are very, very meticulous about your backup strategy.

As strong as I think my backup strategy is today, I realize that it can still be stronger and plan on improving it later this year when the Drobo Mini is out. I’ll get more into this in a bit.

First off though, I’m sorry you were hacked Mat. That really sucks. I’ve had my Twitter account hacked before too. It’s not fun. After they hacked my Twitter account, they got into my blog and some of my other sites. It took time and money to clean it all up. It’s misery.

I’m not going to chide you about not having your photos backed up. People that chide you or mock you about that are assholes. It’s like kicking someone when they’re down. So while I’m using your experience to illustrate a point, it’s meant in a very sympathetic way.

I’ve known a lot of people over the years that have lost photos. It’s happened to so many people. The problem is that most people don’t start seriously working on a backup strategy until *after* they lose their first batch of photos. Everybody always means to work on a back up strategy, but it’s not fun. It’s tedious and boring. It’s so much more exciting to be out shooting or publishing your photos to the web than to be working on a backup strategy. Having lost photos though I can tell you that the sinking feeling you feel when that happens is just horrible and you must begin working on a strategy so what happened to Mat doesn’t happen to you.

I always tell photographers that one of the best things that can happen to you is *almost* losing your photos. Almost losing them because you don’t actually lose them, but it’s enough of wake up call for you to take backing up your photos more seriously.

In my case I have terabytes of data and so most cloud storage solutions simply are not economical. The cheaper plans would take years (because they throttle your data — I’ve tried them) and the more expensive plans from folks like Amazon and Google are simply too expensive for me. I don’t have hundreds of dollars per month to spend on storing my photos.

So it’s up to me to develop my own back up strategy and here is where I am today.

1. Photos that I’m working on are on my MacBook Pro. This drive is a 750GB internal flash drive. This is backed up to a time machine drive. If I lose my MacBook Pro or my hard drive fails I’ve got this time machine drive. This time machine drive is kept in a fire proof safe that is bolted to a cement floor when I’m not using it.

2. All of my “to be processed” photos (organized into folder by date) are kept on Drobos (I’ve got six). These are photos that I will eventually move over to my MacBook Pro to work on them. These Drobos are kept in the fireproof safe.

3. All of my “archived” photos that I’ve already processed along with the Lightroom Catalog for that day are kept on Drobos in my safe.

4. All of my processed JPG files, my finished photos, that are waiting to be uploaded (about 22,000 right now) are kept on my MacBook Pro hard drive, which is backed up with time machine and another copy is kept on a Drobo. My photos that I have already processed as JPGs and have been uploaded to Flickr are kept in folders by the month uploaded on a Drobo.

Another periodic backup of all of my processed photos is done and these are kept on USB hard drives locked in a drawyer at my office. Another hard drive of some of my most important processed photographs and family photographs is kept on a hard drive at my parents house in Southern California.

The weakness in my strategy? My RAW files aren’t backed up beyond storing them on Drobos in a locked safe today. Part of this is the sheer number or RAW files that I have. I haven’t added them up but I probably have at least 10 terrabytes of RAW photos.

I feel sort of ok having the drives replicated in the Drobos. I have had drives fail in my Drobos before and was able to simply eject the old drive and add a new one in and have all my stuff back. I’ve also had one Drobo fail. When a Drobo fails you can just put all four drives from your old Drobo into a new Drobo and get it back (this was my experience). Replicated data should be your first line of defense though and not your only line of defense.

Your second line of defense should be against theft, fire, natural disaster, etc. I’m sort of covered here. I feel pretty good about being protected against theft. The safe is huge, almost as tall as me. It took four guys to get it into the basement. I didn’t realize how large a safe I’d bought from Costco and it’s a lot bigger than I really need. It’s bolted to a cement floor in the basement. I’m currently remodeling my basement and am putting up walls that will prevent it from ever leaving the basement without moving the walls. I’m also putting it inside a wine cellar with a locked door on it. I feel pretty covered against theft.

As far as fire or other natural disaster? Who knows. I’m not comfortable with my strategy there. The safe is fire proof, but I’m sure it’s only good up to a point.

My other weakness is when I’m travelling on the road. Right now I dump all my photos on my hard drive which is backed up with time machine. The problem though is that I almost always fill up my MacBook Pro’s hard drive and have to dump some photos on an external USB drives. These files are then unprotected until I get them home and get them on a Drobo.

So what will I do differently this year? Later this year I’m going to buy a Drobo Mini when they come out. These small portable units are ideal to use as primary storage on the road. They use the smaller laptop drives which are more durable and robust than 3.5 inch drives. The new Drobo Mini is a Thunderbolt device so it will be fast. I’ll use this as my primary storage device on the road. This way I’ll have enough storage to always have my data replicated (the first line of defense) on the road.

The other thing I’ll use this new Drobo Mini for though is to fix a glaring weakness in my current strategy. At present my RAW files do not enjoy the ultimate line of defense of off site storage. So later this year I’m going to use the Drobo Mini to make back up copies of all of my RAW files (both “to be processed” and “archive” RAW originals) Because the Drobo Mini takes smaller laptop drives these will take up less space and be more durable and portable. I’ll then rubberband the four laptop drives from the Drobo Mini together and get a safe deposit box in a bank vault. This is where I’ll keep these RAW files. Periodically I’ll go visit my box to add new laptop drives to the box. I’ll also keep a copy of all of my processed photos here as well.

Once I make these changes later on this year I think my back up strategy will be even better. I’m sure it can get even better still, but the important thing is that I’m working on a strategy and that it’s evolving and moving forward.

What is your backup strategy? I wonder what percentage of people are like Mat and would lose precious photos if someone stole their computer or they were hacked or whatever. I bet it’s a pretty high number.

The new Drobo Minis likely will be out by the end of September, along with the new Thunderbolt Drobo 5D. If you want one you should pre-order and get on the waiting list because they’ll likely be hard to get early on. You can pre-order directly from Drobo here. You can pre-order from Adorama here.

Disclosure: Drobo is a sponsor of our weekly photography show Photo Talk Plus. I’ve used them for years though even before that and have been happy with them personally speaking. They are not for everybody though and if you are doing something else, that is fine too. The important thing is that you do have *some* sort of strategy — and if you don’t have some sort of strategy that you plan to start one as soon as possible, whatever that may be.

The Art of Wow

The Art of Wow

I just got back from an amazing five day visit to Denver, Colorado. I came to Denver for two reasons, to participate in a conference with Janus Capital in Cherry Creek for my day job and to photograph the city as part of my project of photographing the 100 largest American cities.

I’ll have much more to say about the specifics of Denver and about the places I photographed and the wonderful people I met in other posts, but I wanted to do a quick write up on something I learned this weekend called the “Art of Wow.”

John Evans is the Executive Director of Janus Labs and gave a talk on customer service. In his talk he encouraged us to think about the business that we are in and to try and create “Wow” moments for clients. He mentioned the Ritz Carlton as being one of the premier service institutions in the world today and cited examples of them going above and beyond to create indelible important distinctive Wow moments for their guests and visitors.

In his talk, John told us about a specific visit to a Ritz Carlton Hotel after his daughter had won a recent sporting event. In the elevator up to the room they were excited about her win. The astute bellman overheard this conversation and later on that night when they came back from dinner, there was a little cake in their room with a congratulatory note for his daughter. John has told this story now thousands of times to people all over the world — and here I am now blogging it here as well. The cost of the cake for the Ritz Carlton was inconsequential — yet they have garnered an incredible and far more valuable amount of positive word of mouth PR.

On Sunday I was hanging out with my Denver friends Ryan Dearth, Jeff Wilson, Stan Sholwalter and Corbin Elliott and his wonderful family. The evening before as our One Year Anniversary Google+ Photo Walk wined down late in the night (more on that later), we made plans for breakfast the next day. I asked my friends where the absolute *best* place in Denver was for breakfast. I always like to try to find great and unique food when I visit a city. Several names were mentioned and we decided on Snooze, which Ryan especially was enthusiastic about. We agreed to meet early there because Snooze was popular and there would be a line.

We arrived at Snooze at about 8am and there was already a wait. We didn’t mind because we walked around the neighborhood shooting while we were waiting. Snooze also had free coffee and ice water for people while they wait which was great. Eventually we piled in with all our camera gear and were seated and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. The eggs benedict were some of the best I’ve ever had.

On one visit from our waiter, I think it was Stan who inquired about if our waiter knew how we could get on a roof where there was a neon sign that I’d wanted to shoot near there. The waiter said he didn’t know but in a few minutes brought Jon Schlegel over who is the owner of Snooze. Jon didn’t know about the other building either but he did offer to get us on the roof of the building next to the one we were asking about. They were newly constructed high end condos and someone who worked at Snooze lived there and he offered to get us up. Now, Snooze was super busy. This is one of the most popular restaurants in Denver, and yet after our meal the owner *himself* walked us around the block to let us into the condo and got us to the top of the building. Wow!

See, Jon had just created a wow moment for us as customers.

The Art of Wow

In the elevator I complimented Jon on the food and great decor of Snooze. We chatted about how he designed it based on Googie architecture and it was no surprise to me when he mentioned they would soon be opening their 7th location. The restaurant has been a huge success. Some would call Jon’s extraordinary action to a group of photographers karma, and I’m sure it is, but it was also a warm, personal, gesture from a successful businessman and restauranteur who understands the value of creating wow moments for his customers. There was even an old vintage neon sign in the condos which was a huge treat for me as well.

The Art of Wow

The Art of Wow

A bit later on in the day we stopped by the Ritz Carlton to photograph the Dale Chihuly chandelier that they have in the lobby there. While some hotels might chase a group of pesky photographers out, we were greeted instead by Dewiet Miller, the food and beverage manager. Dewiet talked with us about our photography and then offered to take us up to the Ritz Carlton Club lounge to get some photos from up there as well. We were not even paying guests, but Dewiet extended an extraordinary amount of hospitality towards us. Interestingly enough while up in the lounge I mentioned our wonderful breakfast earlier at Snooze, and Dewiet told me that he in fact knew the owner Jon and had even given a talk to his employees on, yes, you guessed it, customer service.

After leaving the Ritz Carlton, Corbin received a phone call on his cell phone. He had traded business cards with Dewiet. Dewiet had called Corbin to let him know that I’d left a lens up in the Club lounge at the Ritz. He said he’d have it for me at the concierge’s desk.

Wow!

The Art of Wow

Whether or not you are a professional photographer, a waiter, a doctor, a lawyer, a software engineer, or even someone who is retired, I think all of us are capable of creating wow moments for the people around us — for our customers and clients and even our family, friends and acquaintances. These meaningful authentic moments make the world a kinder and better place. They are also how businesses like Janus Capital, the Ritz Carlton and Snooze Restaurant in Denver Colorado are thriving based on providing wow moments in a world where customer service more generally feels like it’s getting worse and worse. I hope this post encourages you to think about how you too might be able to provide wow moments — oh, and thanks Stan Showalter for creating your own wow moment in driving me back to the Denver aiport yesterday afternoon (and alot of other folks too for the amazing hospitality extended to me this past weekend)!

Want to Win a Canon 5D Mark II Camera?

Sunrise With the Scobleizer

Well then you are in luck! Because we are giving one away, courtesy of SmugMug, next Wednesday night live on Photo Talk Plus.

Want to learn how you can win it? Then tune in and join us tonight at 8PM PST LIVE on the Vidcast Network for an epic interview with the one and only Robert Scoble.

Robert and I go way back from the days of our photo walking videos and tonight’s hangout should be a great one. Tonight we’ll be talking about SmugMug’s new awesomest iPhone camera app Camera Awesome, the brand new Lytro lightfield camera announced today, an update on Sunday’s huge Trey Ratcliff / Tom Anderson hosted photowalk down in Los Angeles, all the latest from the rumor mill on the rumored to be imminently released (this Friday) new Canon 5D, Mark III, and much, much more.

Joining me tonight as always will be my lovely cohost Lotus Carroll, along with panelists Don MacAskill from SmugMug, Natalie Villalobos from Google, The Vidcast Network’s Keith Barrett, Camera Labs’ own Gordon Laing and LIFE Through the Lens Host Karen Hutton.

Thanks as always to our great sponsors over at Drobo and SmugMug!

Flickr Adds Pinterest Restrictions to Better Reflect Users’ Sharing Preferences (See Update)

UPDATE: When I wrote this story I tested Flickr’s behavior on how a default account is set up. In my test image it appeared that this image was coded by default as “all rights reserved” with sharing disabled and I could not pin it. Based on this behavior by Flickr, I assumed that all default photos (the majority on Flickr) could not be pinned. In actuality the fact that this account was set up with the “all rights reserved” “no sharing” options default may have been an error in the default settings on flickr. I’m now told by Flickr that the default setting actually *should* be all rights reserved sharing enabled.

What this means is that the only photos that are being restricted from Pinterest are a very small number of photos where users have consciously chosen to restrict their sharing elsewhere on the web. This is actually a pretty smart thing to do to give these users more control over their flickr photos. The vast majority of all rights reserved images on flickr then are still very much able to be shared to Pinterest. Aaron Hockley has a good rundown on the situation here.

Original article corrected:
=====================================================
Flickr apparently disabled the ability to post Flickr photos to Pinterest when the photo is uploaded using the all rights reserved license that Flickr defaults to when a user has opted not to share their images outside of flickr in their flickr settings.

1. This limitation is super easy to get around. Just install Dan Pupius’ mega-excellent FitrFlickr extension. Now on a flickr images’ main photo page under every photo will be direct links to the various sized copies of the images that flickr stores. Here you can easily just go to where the photo is stored directly and share that version of the image circumventing flickr’s code that has been put in place.

2. If you’ve disabled sharing in the past but now want people to be able to share them on Pinterest, just go to your sharing options and turn the default no to “yes, that would be lovely.”

3. One of the biggest things that this does is helps to make sure that flickr’s underground porn world stays underground. The “no pin” tag has been put on all non-safe, non-public photos on Flickr non matter what settings you’ve put on your photostream.

You can of course still post non-safe, non-public photos with the hack that I described in item 1. For example. Flickr has coded this photo that I took of a painting at the Chicago Art Institute as naughty (rolls eyes) — so if you try to pin it you can’t. But if you go to where flickr actually stores the image you can pin it from there just fine. And here it is, a super naughty non-safe flickr photo live living and breathing on Pinterest. 🙂

4. Flickr Help Forum thread on the topic here.

As far as Pinterest goes generally speaking, I like it. I blogged about it the other day here. My friend Trey Ratcliff blogged about it the other day as well here. Alot of photographers are pretty wound up about it though. The most recent bugaboo is that Pinterest strips your metadata when a photo is uploaded there. This upsets alot of people because they embed things like their copyright in the metadata on their photos. Thanks for the heads up on the metadata thing Gary!

My view in general on Pinterest is that many photographers are overreacting about it. Pinterest is not going to steal your photos and sell them as stock photography no matter what mumbo jumbo you might come up with on their TOU. Pinterest users are really not even the type to buy your photos. They’re basically a bunch girls/women who like to scrapbook stuff (and Trey Ratcliff). It’s no different than back in the olden days when bored housewives would cut pictures out of Good Housekeeping magazine and put them in shoe boxes to show them to their girlfriends later — or some girl printing up a photo of Justin Bieber from the internet to hang up in her locker at school. [no chauvinism meant or intended by describing Pinterest as a largely female user base with my flowery language in this part. It’s a cool site for men and women both]

Oh, and if you want to follow me on Pinterst, you can find me here.

Update: I’d like to emphasize that this change only affects the *Default* all rights reserved photos uploaded to flickr. I put default in my headline specifically to try to emphasize that this applied to default all rights reserved photos, not every all rights reserved photo on Flickr. In point #2 I show users who are using all rights reserved licenses with the original default how they can actually use the settings on flickr to change the default no share option and control how their photos are shared or not with that setting.

Festival of Colors Utah Photowalk , March 23-25th

Festival
Photo by Scott Jarvie

What is it?

A free 3 day event/photowalk – March 23-25th in Utah

“A photowalk of epic proportions and awesomeness” – Scott Jarvie

I’m super excited to be heading out for the Festival of Colors next month with my good Pal Scott Jarvie.

I’d try to describe exactly what it is but Scott’s blog post does a much better job of that than I can. Check it out and if you’re up for it, post here on Google+ and come on out and join us for this remarkable photography adventure.

The North American International Auto Show 2012

Apparently There's a New Porsche Coming Out -- Detroit, MI

Over 100 photos of the North American International Auto Show here!

Watch them as a slide show here!

I was pleased to be able to attend the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this year as an invited social media guest for The Ford Motor Company. The show opens this weekend, but they give the press a preview day ahead of the opening and Scott Monty, Ford’s Head of Social Media, and his excellent team hosted me and about 150 other bloggers as press for the event.

In addition to covering NAIAS, Ford also hosted us at The Henry Ford Museum and at their world headquarters. Scott also gave me a personal tour inside the historic Ford Rouge River plant where photography is not usually allowed but where I was allowed to photograph (these photos coming soon). Ford really rolled out the red carpet for us and even arranged for us to have a personal interview with Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally along with many other of the Ford executives. Wow!

I’ve photographed a lot of cars and car shows before but never anything as huge or comprehensive as NAIAS. NAIAS is one of the largest automobile shows in the world and I had an absolute blast shooting it. In addition to all of the major car manufacturers showing off their upcoming models, the manufacturers also showcase many concept cars and share new technology ideas that they are working on for the future.

Anyways, I’ll post more on this trip later along with more photos, but here are a little over 100 of my photos of the show. If you like the photos and are an auto enthusiast feel free to share the photos with others. All of my photos are licensed creative commons non-commercial so feel free to use them if you’d like. If you’re a commercial blog feel free to use as well.

Thank you again to Scott Monty and Ford Motor Company for putting so much effort into organizing this trip for a bunch of bloggers. It’s great to see Ford reaching out beyond the traditional press/media channels and recognizing our content and getting us involved in an event like this. It really shows that Ford is a forward thinking company and gets where media is headed in the future.

#FordNAIAS

Top 10 Ways to Improve Google Photos

Top 10 Ways to Improve Google Photos

My friend Trey Ratcliff has an excellent post and poll going on over at Google+ right now asking photographers what their number one ideas are to improve Google Photos. Trey is meeting with the Google Photos team today and wanted to use his post to get ideas to share with the photos team as well as a rank how people feel about them.

What a great idea.

If you haven’t voted yet, hop on over to Trey’s post and check out some of the ideas and vote.

I’m amazed at how open to feedback the Google Photos team has been. It’s nice to see an active team engaged with the community that actually gets it.

Inspired by Trey’s post I thought I’d take a minute myself to put down what I feel are the top 10 ways to improve Google Photos. Some of these ideas are fanciful and would take a tremendous amount of work and some might be easier to implement.

I consider Google Photos largely a work in progress, but a work in progress with a very talented and dedicated team committed to innovation and I’m sure there will be great advancements by the team in the weeks, months, years ahead.

1. Stock Photography. Trey stayed at my place last week and we stayed up late one night doing a hangout and talked alot about the potential for stock photography with Google Photos. If the interent (and Google) are good at anything it’s disrupting inefficient businesses. This currently is the number one idea on Trey’s poll.

I’m currently enrolled in the Flickr/Getty stock photography deal (along with almost 30,000 other photographers if the number of members in the invite only Getty Contributors group are a measure). Here Getty keeps 80% of my photo sales and pays me 20%. That feels like too low of a payout to me. I’m not sure what the right payout should be, but I have a feeling that Google could do better.

The stock photography business is a big complicated complex business though. There are legal and licensing considerations that would scare off many who might like to get involved. I don’t have insight into the Flickr/Getty deal, but I’d guess that the reason why Flickr went with Getty rather than building something out themselves was because Getty has a good history of clearing images and also I’m guessing that Getty indemnified Yahoo over any liability associated with unauthorized image sales.

Google could acquire a smaller stock agency though with experience in clearing images and begin doing what Flickr is doing but with better payouts to photographers. The profit from this business itself wouldn’t be as important as the fact that having this opportunity to sell images would attract even more high quality Pros and advanced amateurs to Google Photos.

Stock photography is not a slam dunk though and Google would have many considerations. Could they protect themselves (and their deep pockets) legally from potential claims? How much money does Getty spend on advertising each year on Google? Certainly competing with them could threaten this advertising revenue. Google has been criticized already for being as fragmented as they are. Would stock photography be yet another distraction and yet another place to create competitors?

On the other hand, giving us a way to monetize our photos on Google Photos would be huge and certainly something that many high quality photographers would love to take advantage of. If anyone has the clout to compete in this world it would be Google.

2. Better album management including SmartSets. At present I’m dumping all of my photos into Google photos one at a time. I’m only using a single album, “Photos from Posts.” It looks really slick (with infinite scrolling!). I haven’t made any other albums because when I do it creates too much noise in my Google+ stream by dropping in tons of smaller sized duplicate photos anytime anyone makes a comment on a photo of mine that I put into an album.

The noise problem is one that Google should solve hopefully over time — but still, making albums is a manually intensive task at Google Photos today. You have to go to each photo one by one and literally copy it into a new album to create albums that overlap each other. This is very inefficient. First of all, actually copying new files when moving a photo to a new album is unnecessary. It’s duplicate storage and you don’t need to do this to better organize albums. And secondly it’s way too time consuming.

Instead Google should let us build albums by tags or keywords. I’d like to create an album of all of my San Francisco photos. Sets of sets or collections would be cool as well.

3. Interestingness by Circles. I know that technically Yahoo/Flickr have patented “interestingness,” but it seems absurd to me that this should prevent another company from sharing popular items.

What would be cool would be if I could view each of my circles by most popular items by day, week, month. I can’t always stay on top of everything and being able to go back and see the highest rated content from various circles would be slick.

4. Google Galleries. No, not online. I mean real, actual, physical Google Galleries. I think that there is a great opportunity for Google to sell fine art prints in a gallery setting. While a physical store is a big expense, I believe that merging digital art with physical art/prints in the physical world is ripe with opportunity. Initially Google would open a couple of smaller galleries in influential places, say San Francisco and New York. They would hire a curator to run the store. The stores would primarily be composed of plasmas rotating art for sale. Visually they would be stunning, clean, light, like an Apple store, with great big plasmas everywhere rotating the latest photos uploaded and cleared for sale by Google Photos. Every day the art would change.

There would be a cafe in the back that sold coffee drinks. This would invite the public in to browse the store and look at the art. There would be special terminals set up where you could search and browse for art by subject. You could, for instance, look specifically for a print to buy of a cable car in San Francisco, or of a cafe in Spain, or of an Amazon Rainforest, or of the Empire State Building — anything. You could search by artist, or subject, or whatever. Some prints could be done on demand – other prints could be done as limited editions being signed by an artist and shipped to you later.

Google Photographers could also hold shows and meetups at these galleries. Rather than me printing up a ton of my work, if I wanted to do a Thomas Hawk show, the plasmas could just rotate to all of my photos for a weekend. I could do an opening and have a show and sell prints much more economically. Google Photos could do meetups at the galleries and photowalks afterwards. How cool would it be if 100 photographers RSVPd for a Google Photos Meet Up where an hour before a photowalk the best photos from those exact 100 RSVPed rotated randomly on giant plasmas throughout the store.

Jen Bekman’s got a lot of great press with 20×200. Could this be a model? Maybe Google could consider her gallery as a jumping off point to partner with or help launch this?

Gallery photos could also be ordered online and shipped as real physical prints as well.

5. Photo Search. Right now one of the downsides of Google+ is that while your photos get a lot of attention when you first post them, they quickly fall off the radar and are buried for good. Google Photos needs a way to reignite long-term activity on these old photos. Search is where this starts. I need to be able to search for photos and then sort by interestingness or most recent. Photo search would drive activity to photos that are past their initial flurry in Google+.

Google should also consider giving great photos from Google Photos preferential placement in Google Image Search where appropriate. The social meta data around photos should give some insight into how strong a photo is. When someone is searching for images of the Golden Gate Bridge, why not send them to Google Photos Photographers with super strong images of the Golden Gate Bridge?

6. Recent Activity Page. Google’s notifications page is good, but it is not as good as Flickr’s Recent Activity page. This page really is the number one page on Flickr and should be the number one page on G+. There is no page there that is more important.

Google should study Flickr’s page and tear it apart every which way from Sunday. It’s quite literally the best and most addictive thing that Flickr does. We should have a customizable (we choose what to hide and see) recent activity page on Google+ that lets us know when people add us, when they make comments on our photos, when they mention us, when they +1 our photos, when they make a comment after a comment we’ve made (it’s very important to be able to hide this specific activity item especially on a one off basis).

Items should be bumped to the top as a new activity occurs on a post. This will make sure that we see a comment someone makes on a 2 week old photo of ours. The current Google+ notifications page feels too cluttered and noisy. Google’s got to get this page right. It’s important.

7. Photo Stats. Photographers love keeping track of the stats on their photos. This gets a little harder with Google+’s streams (what exactly is a photo view for instance?), but something here would be interesting.

8. Google Groups. I know groups are coming. Google bought Fridge afterall. But Groups are important to photographers. Groups have been very popular at flickr. Some thought should be given to how photo games can be created with groups. There are several flickr groups utilizing different voting games. DeleteMe style critique groups/games have been popular on flickr.

Groups on Google+ should have photo tools and even perhaps some built in voting interfaces. Mike Wiacek, a photographer who works for Google, has in fact built the voting interface for some of the voting groups on flickr on his own time. Mike would be a great guy to talk to about how some of these tools might be integrated by default into Google Photos voting games/groups.

9. Google Photo Books. Here Google could buy Blurb or another publisher, or they could try to build it themselves. Letting us create and sell photo books would be amazing. Print on demand is getting cheaper and cheaper and better and better. They could do magazines like HP’s MagCloud as well, but I think books are a better market.

10. Rebrand Picasa to Google Photos. Goole Photos is a much stronger name. This is already rumored in the works. Identity is important and Picasa has a bit of a reputation for being a sort of clunky 2nd best to Flickr.

Google Photos should recognize the goodwill associated with their name and rebrand everything photo related simply Google Photos. This should coincide with a clean up of Picasa’s interface (see smart sets above) and even more integration with Google+. There should be a link to photos in G+ for example that take you to a more traditional photo landing page for that photo simliar to a flickr photo landing page. This page should not be the same as the lightbox. The lighbox view is pretty perfect as is right now (although keywords should be included in the photo details section) and you should be able to +1 photos from this view and even with a simple keyboard command.

Bonus Improvement: Create a tie in between Google’s Reverse Image Search and our Google Photos accounts.

Although it’s not my bag, some photographers get really, really, really, really, really worked up when people use their photos online without their permission. Google’s new reverse image search shows you where your photos are appearing online. It would be cool if with a simple link next to one of your Google Photos you could conduct an image search showing where it shows up. Alot of people concerned about image theft would like this feature.

Photographers (maybe a Pro or Premium feature?) could also sign up for alerts to let them know when new instances of their photos were showing up online. These alerts could be dismissed one by one as much of the use might not concern people. But other unathorized use would concern people and Google’s already built a great reverse image search tool.