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For those of you who are new to G+ and have yet to discover just what this social network is about, I want to welcome you and encourage you to get comfy here.

For me, my journey started back in August of last year when my brother suggested I sign up. I was a little lost in the beginning, but quickly discovered the amazing and talented photographers who were on here and to my surprise were also very engaging and encouraging.

To find people who shared my love of all things photography related was a pure gift, and something that has made me grow as a photographer more than I could have ever imagined.

I started a photography scavenger hunt here that has grown in popularity and has become more than just a fun "game" like I had originally thought. And the friendships that I have built because of it, I will cherish for the rest of my life.

And to reinforce just what a group of strangers, who come together because of a shared interest, can do... I am re-sharing one of the greatest moments in my life. A gift. An incredible, unbelievable, remarkable, life-changing gift that I received as a thank you from people who participate in my scavenger hunt.

All because of a social network.

A way to connect with people you choose to let into your life.
And the more you engage, the more you give to this community... the more you will get back. And boy do I speak from experience on that.

So engage. Comment. Open doors for us to come thru. We want to get to know you. The world is a very small place because of the internet. My closest friends in the world are literally scattered all over the world, because I let people in.

And once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart to my Scavengers. My BigMac and I have bonded and I still shake my head at what you all did for me. This video still gets me choked up.

(the surprise is revealed around the 9 minute mark)
Michael Melosh's profile photoAnlumar Rivera's profile photoAmethyst Hong's profile photofrancisco candia's profile photo
Thank you - I am working on getting my comfy on. :)
Wait. Wait. I gotta get pouring so I'm ready for the "You got me a computer?" drinking game.
+Heather Mattice yay!! it's a bit overwhelming in the beginning. I found circling other people who comment on things that I was interested in helped me in the beginning. Don't circle big circles that you won't be able to keep up with tho. Just pick a few at a time and follow them. The more you comment, the more they will take an interest in you.
Hey sorry, Christa is right - I just don't appreciate the hate speech especially when it is in streams of people I appreciate and love.
I couldn't agree more +Chrysta Rae Comment on stuff you like, ask questions, etc. Google is different than other networks. It's a community. I have met so many people both virtually, and in 3-D that I never would have anywhere else. There's just so many nice people here.
how awesome is that?! i'm glad people are finding this to be useful interesting network. those of us in the small group of buzz early adopters and in the feedback panels have been saying forever that its amazing if you use it correctly. further proof. +Heather Mattice welcome aboard. :)
Has anyone played that drinking game yet?
Don't worry newbies.... we don't bite..... well, I do on occasion, but my muzzle fits pretty well.... for now. ;)
Awwwww, that is still wonderful to see! Great post +Chrysta Rae, I guess from reading comments there was an onlie outbreak, but got zapped quickly ;)
dang! i should have been hanging around here more often
Since I have only been using google + for about a week now, I would feel comfortable in saying that I am NEW. It is inspiring to hear and see people making head way with connecting with communities of people. I really look forward to gaining in all areas from your experiences.
thanks! i'll be the pony-tailed gentleman sipping top shelf liquors and trolling haters like a mofo.
i'll pinch a butt before i Facebook poke any day of the week!
+Chrysta Rae I'll bet your block trigger finger is pretty fast these days, which I guess is both ;) and :/
Great post to make for new people, that's for sure :)
+Tom Gort .... I started at the 9:30 mark.... I'm drunk right now.

+Chrysta Rae Cheap leashes.... doesn't bode well for the muzzle now does it???
You need to go on backpage to arrange an effin party, +Gilmar Smith. Oh, you meant. . .
I love how many times you said "You guys got me a computer?"
I laughed and cried right along with everyone that night, but my favorite line from this entire thing is... and I quote +Chrysta Rae
"This whole thing is just so ridiculous!
Just so ridiculous!
You guys are ridiculous!"
You are so cute Chrysta, I laugh every time I hear/see it!
I didn't even really know who you were a couple of months ago +Chrysta Rae but I wish I would've gotten in on it.
I had heard about this, but I had never seen it. It made me smile... a lot. Thank you for everything that you have done for this community.

..... You bought me a computer?!?!?! ;)
Yay +Chrysta Rae ! Kick open all the doors and let everyone in! G+ has been all about going out there and making new friends and I'm happy to have come across you on G+!
+Don Malone I was on facebook forever, shared there but my photography page had like... I dunno 30 people who liked it! ha. I've come a long way since then!! Been on G+ since August of last year. It's been a great adventure.
lol +Lori Seebeck! I love at the end when I'm gone and they said how it was only like 85% sunk in. It was a LOT less than that. I had no freaking idea what was going on.
grins at +Ian Thomas Everyone started a drinking game for when I say "what?" and "you bought me a computer?"
+Chrysta Rae seems like you are doing good, not to mention getting the images published. AWESOME! I think this is an opportunity that all photographers should grab hold of.
I'm thinking it's just now getting to that 85% sunk in mark... right? ;)
The way everyone raves about this, I would be a fool not to kick back and chill for a while.
I want to join your community so what i do because i learn photography & i intrest in field. i like click natural photography so pls help me. i saw your episode 3 it's nice.
+Chrysta Rae I don't believe in hinges, or doors for that matter, not even walls, enclosures, or confinement.
This is what the new people need to see +Chrysta Rae! I don't think anyone can really fathom what a community like this can do until they see it in person. This video emphasizes that. I'm really glad I got to watch it live. This place is awesome!

Agreed +Billy Wilson! It's only a ghost town for the people that stay quiet and don't interact. There are so many awesome sincere people on here it's amazing...for a ghost town :-)
Yes +Jeff McDonald I had someone help thrust me into this amazing land of G+ and I'm so thankful that he did. It's the best community I have ever been a part of and one where I come across people I actually feel a connection with.
Absolutely...I was skeptical when I joined last year, but G+ has far surpassed any expectations I had from my experiences elsewhere. 
If you really want to scare us, add another item to the Scavenger Hunt. (no really, don't do that!!! :D )
This is beautiful. It IS karma. And the friendships ARE why we do these crazy things... just beautiful.
love g+ since it was a test and called Buzz :-) +Jordana Wright and myself along with +Brian Rose organized the very very first google photowalk that year, in San Diego. fro humble beginnings and all that :)
I remember Google Buzz, I got onto it, but I never really got into it.
and now we have entire communities and scavenger hunts and free imacs :)
+Billy Wilson it was about the most simplified version of G+ ever. a few of us were on there for ever though. but that Brian Rose character (with mustache, even then, just smaller) he took almost all of our suggestions and made the robust interactive photography community we have currently. and more is on the way :)
i'd say you've made up for that around here sir :)
I sometimes wonder if I'll ever leave my city's limits again. I even have a passport and can see the United States through my kitchen window.
I have done a lot on here, but I guess I never thought Buzz would give way to this. I just wasn't into anything social media related at the time.
I've never been on a photowalk so I'm going to try to make my own for June 30th in my city!!!
most people think of buzz as an abject google fail. i always think whever they sunset a product line, they incorporate vastly the components that were successful into newer better products. anybody that spent any amount of time on buzz can surely see they kept the general format of social media whatever, but added the truly sensational photography platform, which until things like 500px, had literally no equal in terms of layout and display. these guys were so clever to do it, and have the capital to run entire social media platforms for a few years as a beta test. we see a great deal of Wave in g+ as well.
I personally feel like photography is something I do in the privacy of my own home, among other things, but I just want to do one out of just wanting to connect with people. So my priority wouldn't even be to take photos on a walk, but to just have fun and interact with people in real life.
thats my focus as well. i'm lucky because my wife is an amazing photographer, so that rests on her while i bother everybody else lol
I don't think most people go with the expectation of getting an amazing shot. It is more about the social aspect. Seeing other gear, and maybe picking up a trick or two is just gravy.
What was the Wave like? It sounds like something that should have come from the 80's?
and we give out prizes like G+ camera straps, shirts, and a B&H gift card :) we're also running a competition for best image after the entire #americabyrail is complete, and the winner gets a new "gorillapod pro with ballhead X"

+Billy Wilson wave was ahead of its time by easily 10 years. seamless real time updates of streams with integrated translation (sound familiar yet?) across all devices with images, sounds, vids apps etc. basically it was what they split up to become all the awesomeness thats new about Chrome, G+, and Docs (gdrive now)
Maybe, but I'm headed to sleep - good night everyone.
J'aurais aimer être un photographe de métier mais la vie à décidé d'autres chose pour moi et ce soir le ciel a été rempli d'éclairs avant un petit orage,que c'était beau ! Je ne suis pas très bien équipé mais mon Nikkon fait du bon travail .Patience dans mon cas car je ne sort pas 10 images à la seconde et dans le cas d'éclair,c'est souvent une question de fraction de seconde,donc,15 ,20 photos pour en sortir une mais UNE à mon goût ! Michel le débutant !
Awesome text :) i'm also quite new here and i feel exactly what you have discribed :) at the beginning you feel lost in that big network of friends... Nobody knows you, nobody answers to your posts, to your pictures :) but i hope, that i get more popular in the next time, to stay in closer contact to the wonderful people in google plus :)
Thank you for sharing +Chrysta Rae. Your impact on this community is immense and you deserve everything and more. I was an early member in g+, but never used it as very few of the people I knew were active. Then I discovered the photography community here, and I began to rediscover my love of photography. But it wasn't until I stumbled upon you that I truly understood what was going on here. I found your profile as you began to post the results of January's scavenger hunt. What an amazing thing you've created. Here were hundreds of talented photographers, pros and amateurs alike, sharing their work from all over the world. And here you were posting albums of the most amazing interpretations of a simple list of words. I loved every photo. The kindness I saw, the willingness to help and inspire, were enough to convince me that I was safe to share my own work.

I have received some wonderful feedback from so many fabulous people here. I have dared to try new things with my camera. And I have just begun to scratch the surface of getting to know the many amazing people who share so much. But I know that much of what I get from this today is due to what you put into it not so long ago. And what you continue to do today.

Thank you +Chrysta Rae for giving, when so many would only take. Thank you for bringing us all together.
I may ask, how do we use the goggle +
One of the greatest "reality TV" moments ever for one of the greatest and most deserving people ever (IMHO). I personally can't thank G+ enough. I've made many, many great friends plus I made a new bestest friend ever.
everybody does it. use the search box and look up Google Plus Pages
I was an early member of G+ to, but I did not get the clue out of it, till some weeks ago... as there was a WOW photography in my stream and I replied to it.
I had some photos online and I got comments from this person, which I did not know.. That's were G+ started to get my interest. Through the engagement of one of you.
The curators and people like +Chrysta Rae make G+ to the greates network I'm proud to be a part of - and I try to engage back as much as I can with respect to my family. Thank you +Chrysta Rae for the awesome hunt.
xoxoxoxoxoxoox. I will never ever get tired of watching this!!!
Ditto +Alan Shapiro, this is an all time high special moment! All I have to do is think about that face and I can hear "whaat?" and it makes me smile.
It was so amazing. When I watch it I still remember thinking... "I think they're buying me a computer, but that can't be right"
Just watching it again, and it's just too, too good! So glad I got to be in on this!!!!!
+Chrysta Rae did you decide on what to do with the gift card? Did you get your lens?!?
Aw, I love this post so much. So, so much. I watched your reaction on the video 3 times in a row. So happy for you. Love, love, love.
Very inspiring video ... ty so much for sharing .. im not from the Scavengers community... it was only a big coincidence that made me watch it ... im new in Google+ ... didn't put my work yet ... maybe in a couple of weeks ... babye :)
+Paul Howard I did get photoshop, student edition, sweet. As far as the lens I haven't heard anything about that so far. 
+Chrysta Rae PS is awesome, isn't it? I just wondered as, last I recall, you were using a lens of Billy's I think and someone suggested that you use the gift card to get a lens. What are you using for most of the interiors? 10-22?
yep. I think +Erika Thornes is/has ordered one, just havent gotten it yet. I have been using Bill's this whole time. And I take almost every shot with that 10-20.
+Chrysta Rae That's excellent! I am always keeping my eyes open for deals on these kind of things as well - I can't recall, are you shooting Canon or Nikon?
Canon rebel T2i. Gunna haveta upgrade in the next year to a big-girl camera tho!! 
Hey there's nothing wrong with a T2i at all! As evidenced by your own shots, you can get amazing stuff in the right hands!! But when you do go shopping, make sure and hold them first. I found quite a difference in the grips and "feel" of the 5D and 7D in my hands (which, I should add, I loved) as compared to the Rebels.
And I am definitely going to keep you in mind when and if I hear of anything! I've found a couple of darn good deals so far.
+Chrysta Rae ? I like this post. It's a great testament to the community here. I hadn't seen this video until yesterday. I loved it and watched your reaction 3 times because it was beautiful. That's all. Happy for you!
Hi +Chrysta Rae I just ran across this post and and wanted to let you know you're an inspiration to me! I'm a real estate agent who loves photography and has some pretty serious aspirations to become a professional in this space.

Photographing interiors is something I've thought about doing because I've done it for myself for so long and as a Realtor I have great connections with the local real estate community here.

I look forward to hopefully getting to know the Scavengers and participating and learning from you guys.

By the way... watched the entire video... what an awesome community :)
wo wo wo ...
Um totally lost in this community..
Just watched this video for the first time +Chrysta Rae and the tears were flowing big time....

I love genuine people and you my dear are definitely one of them. Cudos to all those that pulled off that great surprise for you!!
Awwww! Thank you so much +Joe Vallee!!! Pretty unreal what they did for me. I'm still in awe as I sit here, entering photos into the scavenger hunt on the BIGMAC! (aka the Ferrari)
You go girl, you deserve it as you well know by now.
Have you become the master of your computer yet?  ;o)
lol no... he still has full control at this point, but I'm happy to be on the ride!! haha
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