Happy 5th birthday Google+#Gplus5
I joined G+ in 2011 after it had been in beta for a month or two. At the time I had a job that involved exploring opportunities for integrating social networks into my company's products. I joined every new social network I could find to see how it compared to the others. I had accounts on dozens of social networks at the time, most of which I cannot remember and no longer exist.
I always looked for photographers to connect with. On most of the social networks I never found anyone of interest. But G+ was different. Within two days of signing up I had managed to get myself into a Colorado Photographers circle with hundreds of photographers, many of whom were actually circling me back! My stream came alive with interesting photos. This G+ thing was nothing like any of the others. It was engaging!
G+ has been life changing for me. The daily hashtag challenges pushed me to go out with my camera more often, helping me to improve my fundamental photography skills. In 2013 I entered a G+ weekly "treasure hunt" challenge that insisted every photo I took had a person in it. Since I had no convenient models, I put myself in front to the camera for the first time. Believe it or not, I had never done a self portrait before then. That challenge also introduced me to conceptual photography. For the first time I was planning and creating, not just shooting. After a few months my photography had gone to an entirely new and unexpected direction.
Then I signed up for the Chrysta Rae Scavenger Hunt. I had seen all these amazing scavenger hunt photos in my stream and wanted to play, but never knew how to sign up. Once in, I looked back at some of the past winners and said "I need to learn Photoshop". I created my very first composite photo for the scavenger hunt, toiling for hours on something I could do in 5 minutes today. The scavenger hunt pushed me further and further into conceptual photography and self portraiture and Photoshop. A somewhat unique style emerged which I continue to explore to this day.
Finally, many of the photographers I met on G+ in the scavenger hunt have become real life friends. I've traveled to Maine, Las Vegas, Wyoming and South Africa to meet G+ photographers in real life. I'm traveling to Canada next month for another meet up.
Where would I be today if I had not found G+ 5 years ago? I don't know. I have so many new friends I wouldn't know. I might never have attempted a creative self portrait. I may not have discovered conceptual photography. I might not have had a reason to learn Photoshop. Thank you Google+ for helping me find these opportunities!Photo: On a boat shooting elephants in Botswana in 2015 with a dozen photographers I met on Google+