Part 2-My Personal Google+ PC Experience

It all seemed too familiar; the last time I was in California was on an NCAA recruiting trip to play for University California Santa Barbara girls with braids lacrosse team. It was a whirlwind adventure with many fond memories. Five years later I was asked to coach the UCSB team. Again, the thrill of California enticed me, but the reality never led me back.

When I booked the Google+ Photographers Conference through Kelby Media Group, there was no hesitation. Because I have an instilled trust for any product they promote, the details were irrelevant.  It wasn’t until I booked my flight/hotel that I realized; I was finally on my way back to California.

The Google+ PC was full of opportunity and purpose. I felt this trip was the innovative launch I needed to feed my desire for photography. My hopes were that the Google+ PC would get me on the right track to streamline my workflow as a photographer.

Sometimes I feel that I just press a lot of buttons and wait for a response. I find that even experts are not experts yet, because the world is changing rapidly how we market and communicate. Events like this are almost like a big focus group and can only get better with time. I have chosen to continue to learn, develop and advance with technology.

January 1st, 2012 was the goal to restructure & launch my new business website. I have chosen to embrace social media in my workflow, “the good-the bad and the ugly”.

Over the years, I have developed my multi-media skills while making an effort to maintain a balanced lifestyle.  I would like to describe my timeline as Career-Family (Mommy) Mode -Career. At the end of the day I am going home to my family and everything that I have done that day needs to be accountable and time worth spent.

I believe that I still have half my life ahead to accomplish my career goals. Which raises the question of why someone who is successful & I respect would want to deter me from the photography business and make blunt hardcore statements. No fluff about it, straight to the point & real criticism.

Prior to submitting my name for a portfolio review, I followed and researched photographers and industry news online.  I realized that in order for me to gain an experienced evaluation of my work, engagement was important.  I managed to retain a prominent pro sport shooter to view my initial portfolio. Although the first few transactions were pleasant and endearing, the end result was like shock therapy. I encountered my first true “NASTY” reality check.

Now going back to life lessons, I played box lacrosse on a boys’ team up to Jr. B and know how to take a hit. I played full contact football and because I know how to take a hit, I can give it back. I know when not to back down. I know when the game is over, but I also know how to change my strategy to win. Who said Mommy mode doesn’t prepare you for other advantage points in life either.

Taking this all into account, I know how ruthless business can be. What I choose to do with this experience is up to me.  Therefore, I took what I could control; used it and prepared diligently for my Google+ portfolio review. I truly believe in my abilities as a photographer & failure is an attitude I will not accept. I also understand when you are passionate; emotion sometimes takes over for analytical justification. I simply looked at my work from another perspective and painfully dissected.

I meant no disrespect to the pro shooter by igniting a belly of fire to endure the wrath of a bad review. The fact is a lot of what he was saying is right. In the meantime he has continued to send me information to build a better portfolio…because I think he really does care ;).

I know now that my presentation was not elite enough to show a pro shooter of his caliber (because he told me). On this given day it was not my best game, but I’m willing to play ball in the minors a little bit longer. I still have immense admiration for this pro shooter as an individual talent, contributor to the photography & the sports industry.

Moving forward, I recently became a member of NPAC and found some solitude in the forum. Warren Toda has been a positively charged inspiration to me. He takes a proactive approach to analyze and give applicable feedback.   So much that it will be an ongoing task to keep up with all his innovative suggestions. Focus..Focus…Focus!

Now getting back to the Google+ Photographers Conference. I was scheduled to have my portfolio review with NYC, Peter Hurley. Who I think is completely cool. No really he has this swagger about him…love it!

During opening remarks there was a schedule change and Peter was not available to do my review. I am freaking out because I tailored my portfolio slightly for him, since his specialty is headshots.

So I inquire with Tom, who puts the special in marketing (specialist) because he is accommodating and helpful. He tells me…Ready for this  “TA DAAAAAAAAAA” Scott Kelby…Mr. Photography himself will be doing my portfolio review…REALLY! It’s excitement then back to nerves. Here’s my chance to revamp my portfolio to show my best work with a little emphasis on sports photography.

Face to face with Scott Kelby. Oh don’t call him Sir…he doesn’t like that…Great I’m thinking, I screwed up already. “Sir Kelby” does have a ring to it. Little does anyone know that I am a lot of fun, but because my photography is extremely valuable to me…I stay quiet so he will judge me just on that alone. Of course when the discussion opens up, I can’t stop talking a mile a minute because I’m nervous. I also know that my face time is only 15min on a tight schedule.

At this point it is all a blur, I know my time is over when I look up to see Tom patiently waiting for me to finish. What made me feel so special is that Scott allows us to run past our time.

“The most consistent portfolio of the day, collectively the best set of photographs”, Scott said. I understand faces, expression and he really likes my post processing style.  A couple of photographs should be pulled from the set and I need to start off strong. Get closer to the subject with a shallower depth of field, but I’m almost there.

I liked that he said that I already have my own style and knows which photographs are done by me. “You have a lot of photographs that make me laugh”, he said. What moved me was Scott felt that I was better than some of the wire photographers he has shot beside. I felt vindicated when he said that my initial review might have been too harsh.

However, my portfolio may not have been as strong if I didn’t have it under the microscope prior to presenting it at the Google+ PC.

Just before the portfolio review, I finished Scott’s sports photography session. He reiterated many of the points my initial reviewer established. I clearly know what I need to work on, what is required to do it and I’m prepared to work at it.

You can never prepare enough because there is always going to be someone bigger, faster, smarter and stronger than you. Really, you just have to put yourself out there.

The Google+ PC was unique from other conferences because of the intimate face-to-face approach to business.  I had no problem waiting my turn to approach Peter Hurley to say hello. I expressed my gratitude that Scott Kelby did my portfolio review, but disappointed that I was not able to meet with him. “Let’s do it now” he says.

We meet up in the Google lounge and have a very enlightening review and talk about our passion for photography. Constant interruptions don’t aggravate him and he graciously gives me his undivided attention. Who does that?  WOW!

He says, “You know what your doing”. Besides over processing my kids…Because I can LOL…Cut it out! Going back to the raw files for rework or lack of will only make me a better photographer. This is an exercise I must go through to comprehend the “Art Behind the Headshot”.  Good plug eh? Seriously it will make my images great in the end.

There were sweet and sour moments, especially with the blind critiques. No need to rehash that since I already blogged about it earlier.  I am thrilled that as a result of the critique, RC Concepcion and Trey Ratcliff have engaged with me online. They really want to help. “Neat”, Matt Kloskowski says as he stops and listens to how I use social media in my photography workflow.  Catherine Hall eloquently announced people from her photo walk for their talent. Acknowledgement that is normally unknown was brought to the forefront because she cares.  Candid, kind and commending moments like these were collective amongst all at the conference.

My point is that these professionals put themselves out there too. They are making the industry better by being accessible and sharing, just as much as the attendees. This community is coming together in person to evaluate, experience and grow. Sweet and sour, short and sweet…now that I have had time to digest everything, I believe it was a significant journey for me to take.  The difference with the Google+ PC is that communication & momentum is still building after the event.  I hope to attend next year and I am sooooooooo looking forward to Photoshop World.