Finding Inspiration on Google+ Images

Google+: A Central Hub For Photographic Inspiration

Google_Photo_Album_Screenshot

Remember the old adage that “knowledge is power?” If you spend ten minutes per day looking at images from those who have truly mastered the art of landscape photography, wedding photography, macro photography, etc., then your own photographic skills will rise. Spend ten more minutes each day reading an article or watching a video tutorial from someone at the top of their craft, and your ability to craft a compelling image will skyrocket.

It’s easy for me to suggest that a few minutes of research time each day is all that it will take for you to become a better photographer. I am comfortable dishing out this advice because it matches my own personal experience and because I see it repeated again and again amongst the students who attend my photography workshops. Until recently though it was hard for me to point to a single website where I can consistently find the best photos, the most informative articles, and the most inspirational video tutorials.

In the past, I had to bounce all over the web to put in my twenty minutes of daily photographic research time. I used to jump from site to site, or blog to blog, each day to find my daily inspiration, but now Google+ acts as my central hub for contemporary photographic inspiration. Unlike other social sharing platforms, Google+ is designed to foster meaningful conversations between individuals who share similar interests. As a learning tool Google+ is the place to be right now for those with a serious interest in photography.

Reading, Sharing, Creating

It helps to draw distinctions between three distinct types of online social activities to understand the value of a social layer like Google+ as a learning tool. On a social network you can:

• consume content from others.

• pass along things that you found engaging or that your peers shared with you.

• distribute your own original content.

For serious photographers the breakdown of activity looks like this:

• viewing images from inspiring contemporary photographers.

• re-sharing and commenting on content that you the find compelling.

• posting and sharing your own images, videos and articles with the world.

Google_Wallpost_Screenshot-2It is up to you to choose which type of activity best suits your needs each day. There is no rule that says you must add something into the information stream everyday. I know a lot of aspiring photographers who do not want to share anything of their own yet but who are delighted to watch a daily stream of incredible images from the world’s best artists. For these photographers consuming photographic knowledge, without adding anything of their own into the pool, is an excellent use of their daily research time.

I know other photography students who delight in sparking up meaningful conversations with those who inspire them. For these artists just watching what others share online does not provide enough engagement. These students have questions that they want answered by those who inspire them. On a friendly open network it is possible to interact with anyone if you are polite and if your questions / comments add something of value to the collective conversation.

Finally, there are photographers like me who feel the need to share my work with the entire network. I share images, videos and words with the hope that my content will inspire or inform someone else. When someone posts a good question or an insightful comment on one of my posts, I feel compelled to answer it.

Sharing inspiring content supports my mission as a photography instructor, but there is no rule that says I must post something of my own making everyday. There is no rule that says I must answer every comment immediately. I do what I can to add something meaningful to the collective stream of information, but when I have nothing to say, I am happy to just sit back and absorb inspiration from others.

That’s my advice for those just dipping their toes into the Google+ pool. When you are new here, find some sources of inspiration and then sit back and watch what they do for a few weeks. Spend some time tracking down the artists whose images, and words, speak to you first.

As your comfort level with this social tool rises you might begin to ask questions and add comments to the posts that you find particularly insightful. If your comfort level with this public forum reaches the point where you feel the need to distribute your own work, then please leap into the social sharing game with both feet. But when you are getting started here, there is nothing wrong with just using Google+ as a source of daily inspiration without sharing a single word of your own.

Where Can I Find The Most Inspiring Photographers On The Google+ Network?

In the Google+ world, subscribing to someone’s news feed is called “following” or “circling.” When you add someone into one of your circles you are telling the platform that you want the ability see anything that this person publicly posts. When I tell Google+ that I want to circle an inspiring artist like my colleague Tim Cooper, it is a one-way street. Circling Tim does not force him to follow me back nor does it expose any of my private information to him.

So the big question becomes “who should I follow here?” Fortunately there are three ways to find great sources of inspiration on the Google+ network. Each method has its own unique value and all are worth exploring.

Option 1: Join A Community That Shares Your Interests

Google_CommunitiesJoining a Google+ community is a great way to see photographs from artists all over the world. Google+ communities are a great place to discover new and interesting people. Most communities are open to anyone and they are a great way to find those with whom you share a particular interest. I am active in the Photoshop and Lightroom Users Community, the Landscape Photography Community, and the National Parks Community because these match my interests.

After you join a Community, spend a few days or weeks just watching the information stream. Whenever you see particularly inspiring work, check out the poster’s Google+ profile page. If you like what you see on their profile page and in their photo galleries, then consider adding them to one of your circles. Also consider adding the community moderators to your circles. Often community moderators are experts in their field and these are generally friendly people with a real interest in knowledge sharing.

Free advice about online communities: Please mind your manners and don’t share too much personal information. Remember that communities are meant to foster open conversation. When posting, or commenting, within a community be very polite. Be friendly. Be nice to others. If you are rude the community, moderators will kick you out. If your Google+ behavior is really abusive, then you can get yourself banished from the whole network.

Option 2: Use A Shared Circle To Find New Sources of Inspiration

My_Suggested_Photographers_Shared_CircleCircles are a way to group together those that you follow on Google+. You can control the frequency of posts that you receive from different types of people by organizing your contacts into circles. I have built a circle for members of my family, for example, and I have set the frequency setting way up so that I will automatically see everything that my loved ones post on my homepage.

Circles are a great organizational tool but they serve a second purpose, too. Circles can also be shared publicly. This is one of my favorite features on Google+. Thanks to circle sharing, you can add this collection of my forty favorite Google+ photographers into your news stream in a single click! Forty+ Photographers Whose Posts Consistently Inspire Me On Google+

Note: This link will not take you to my shared circle unless you are currently logged into your Google+ account.

Option 3: Build Your Own Circles

Connecting with the right folks is a continual process. I add new sources of inspiration to my circles everyday. Communities and someone else’s shared circle are just starting points. Eventually everyone uses the “”Find People” button to track down other friends, family members and additional sources of inspiration.

When you use the Find People button, Google+ uses the data that you have entered in your profile, and the list of who you have already circled, to suggest new contacts. If you are a GMail user, then the Find People tool will also search through your GMail address book to see if any of your email contacts are also active on this network. I don’t use the Find People box everyday, but when I hear about an artist or read an insightful article online, I often pop open this box to see if the content’s creator is also sharing work publicly here on Google+.

One last tip: “plus mentions.” Adding the +symbol and then a contacts name creates a hyperlink to another Google+ users profile page. Whenever I share content from another Google+ photographer, or talk about a colleague’s work, I try to add a plus mention that leads to them.

By adding this link I am making it easier for someone who reads my post to find out more about this photographer and if desired to add them into one of their circles. Using plus mentions, I can give credit to my sources and make it easy for those who follow me to connect with someone else that I think they might also want to follow.

Learn More About Google+

I hope that you found this guide useful. I hope that this advice makes it easier for you to start out your Google+ experience with the right connections. If you liked this article then please click here to find me on Google+.

David_Marx_Profile_Page

 

Additional Resources

 

I will be teaching several sessions of our Lightroom for Photographers workshop in 2013. I’d love to have you join me in one of these locations:

Lightroom for Photographers – San Antonio, Texas (5/9—5/12)
Lightroom for Photographers – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (5/30—6/2)
Lightroom for Photographers – Chicago, Illinois (6/6—6/9)
Lightroom for Photographers – Cedar Rapids, Iowa (7/25—7/28)
Lightroom for Photographers – Nashville, Tennessee (8/1—8/4)
Lightroom for Photographers – Wichita, Kansas (8/8—8/11)
Lightroom for Photographers – Duluth, Minnesota (9/5—9/8)