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The best way to learn photography is to take as many photos as you can. The second best way to learn photography is to be a voyeur and look at good photos other top photographers have taken. In my fledgling attempts to learn the fine art of the lens, I am doing the former…but more than that when the shutter’s closed, I do the latter. You cannot train an eye to be creative perhaps, but looking at a few great shots and sharing some of your own could take you a few inches closer.
I am on the learning curve myself. Finding inspiration for photography is never a problem on the web; photography tutorial websites and free photography related blogs can help you get all the angles right. But even when we are taking in all we can, we shouldn’t forget the real-timeliness of social media and its natural give and take interactivity.
Your first leanings could be towards Facebook. But in my opinion and social runs, Google+ is quite a few steps ahead when it comes to being an online training school for photographers.
Why You Should Give Google+ a Shot for Learning Photography
I don’t have reams of statistics to convince you why Google+ could be better place to find top photographers. But the distinction is simply visual.
Open your Google+ profile – it is pretty apparent that Google+ does a better job of showcasing photos even in their thumbnails. The first look at thumbnail photos on Facebook is kind of disappointing as in this case size does really matter. Facebook Timeline has improved the appearance of photos a lot, but the Google+ stream still seems neater in comparison.
The differences increase when you open any image in the lightbox. The Google+ lightbox also envelops the entire screen. The clincher – Google+ displays the EXIF data and the histogram, invaluable tools for the photography leaner. Facebook, as far as I know, strips out all EXIF data when an image is uploaded. Both though, support 2048 pixel high resolution photos for display.
Then there’s the integration with Picasa which allows you to send over select photos to Google+ without uploading your photos separately.
Let’s not forget that Google is a search company and it is trying to change Google+ from a ‘ghost town’ to the fulcrum for its social strategy. Any post shared on Google+ has a likelihood of being indexed by Google.
These are just a few points that make Google+ worth more than a tryout. There is an excellent post by professional photographer Colby Brown who goes into the details of why Google+ is the social media for photographers. This is a must read for anyone with a camera in his or her hands and new to Google+.
For The Learner – Google+ Communities
In December last year, Google+ added communities. Photographers who formed a large percentage of the user base, embraced communities. Today, the topic based communities have gained momentum and are just like open forums. You can connect to like-minded enthusiasts and share knowledge. You can easily search for photography communities by logging into your Google+ profile and hitting the Communities icon on the left bar. You can use the small search bar or just browse down the page vertically. It is a bit manual as Google+ does not give you any way to arrange them by number of members.
Here are some of my picks: [no longer available]
‘Circle’ Of Photographers To Follow And Learn From
You can just type ‘photography’ or ‘photographer’ in the search box and take it from there. But a shortcut is to follow a few curated lists which have done the work for you. Here are three great resources for finding some master photographers who ply their art on Google+.
Group/as – Curated by Jarek Klimek
The list is neatly grouped and links to their Google+ profiles. You can also check out the Tag Cloud for an overview of all the groups.
Google+ Photographers – Curated by Trey Ratcliff
A huge list of photographers who are on Google+, arranged in shared Google Spreadsheets.
WonderHowTo – 104 Amazing Photographers
You are sure to find some expert photographers like Thomas Hawk, Thomas Leuthard, Colby Brown, Jim Goldstein, and more on any of the lists.
Hangout with Some of the Top Photographers
Google Hangout (and Hangouts on Air) is a power feature of Google+ that adds oodles of interactivity to your learning. A usual hangout allows for a total of 10 simultaneous video chatters. Hangouts on Air enables one to live stream a session and also have it recorded on YouTube. Scott Kelby (video above) is a regular with his training hangouts. You can also find regulars like Trey Ratcliff here along with few others.
Usually photographers announce upcoming hangouts on their Google+ profiles and other social media outlets. You can also check Google’s page on upcoming Hangouts for the latest schedule. Then, you can go to the Community Hangout page as illustrated below (from the Community page, search for Photography. Click on the Community button and select Hangouts).
As a photographer’s medium Google+ has sufficiently grown, and in many ways has outstripped other social networks like Facebook. So, it makes sense for a photography learner to cultivate a presence there if only for photography. But don’t forget us in your rush to set up a Google+ profile if you haven’t done so already. We have the Google Plus Guide for Everyone; and for all photography wannabes our latest primer on HDR Photography follows our previous The Essential Guide To Digital Photography. You can also download them as PDF or ePub files.
Are you an amateur photographer or simply enthusiastic about photography? Tell us about your take on Google+…do you think it’s a great resource to connect with top photographers? Do you have your own Google+ photography tip to share here?