Making Google Plus Work for the Photographer
Since this was written a new tool has appeared that short circuits some of what follows and makes the initial part of the process much faster. It would probably be better to read the main part of this post then double back to this short set of instructions if they don’t make sense as they stand – whatever works :)
Get Google Chrome Browser
Sign up for a G+ account (via your Gmail page – you will need Gmail)
Set up your G+ profile and make a circle called, say emerging photographers, or anything you like.
Go to this page and install the plugin
Go to this page and then click on the blue circle on your browser toolbar near the wrench symbol
You now have over 200 friendly photographers who’s posts and photogaraphs will appear and that you can comment on whenever you go to use G+.
Now follow the instructions on this post - at least you will have activity while you are setting everything else up!
For anyone that doesn’t know, Google Plus (G+) is best described as Google’s answer to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and other social networking websites. It has only recently launched but it is big and it’s going to get bigger. The only argument is about the exact degree of its bigness and future bigness.
The good news is that it is an excellent tool for photographers of all levels. From a perspective of improving photography through tips, discussions and critiques (if requested) and for networking and socializing. The biggest advantage though is the very short time period between that feeling of talking into a void and having more interaction than you know what to do with.
Google Plus This provides a pretty good overview and provides some content.
Google Plus Update – Five Days On… This is an update of the above post.
I have written a couple of posts about G+ already and most of what I said holds true and is relevant. This post is going to be slightly different insomuch as I intend to provide a recipe for getting involved with G+ and getting something worthwhile out of it in as short a period of time as possible.
This will be a fairly long post but don’t let that put you off. It is simply three stages:
Get an account
Add content to your pages
Let others know that you exist
Getting Interactive on G+
Get an account
You will need a Gmail account to do this. type “Get a Gmail Account” into a search box. First page up should be the one. Follow the instructions on the page.
Once you have a Gmail account there should be a link on your Gmail page that lets you create a G+ account – it will probably be on the black bar at the top of the screen and have your name or email name with a plus sign after it. Click on it and follow instructions.
If this causes any problems let me know in the comments or via my contact page/email and I’ll send an invite direct from Google. (you will still have to set up a Gmail account if you don’t have one though).
Setting Things Up
Have some images that you like prepared in a way that you are happy with them being on the web e.g. as you would for Flickr say.Have the pictures grouped in batches of say 10 themed is best, ready to go. Don’t get too hung up about the quality of these, this really is a case of don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Also have an image (png or jpeg) that is suitable for a profile image that is around 500px square – can be bigger but not in the megabytes range.
Enter G+. You will probably be prompted to fill out a profile. Brief and to the point are good. Highlight photography – do not just add it as an afterthought – people really do read these. Also make sure that something photography related appears in the tag line. The reason for this will become clear later but, in a nutshell, it is all about making someone want to follow you without them having to spend half a day rooting through posts and images before they can make a decision – they won’t. Clarity really does trump clever or funny on the profile – if you can do it all though – that is good.
When you are logged in you will be presented with a page with a text box and some icons. Click on the camera icon and add a batch of pictures. Write a bit about them, even a single line would do but a hundred words or so is probably better and post. You may be prompted to create a Picasa account at this point – don’t panic. (or it might be fully automatic – I already had one and Google automatically linked everything up for me)- do what it tells you to do – this is a once only deal and it is the last account related admin you’ll have to do).
Now repeat this process with the other batches of photographs. This will give you something on your posts page and a gallery and you already have a profile. This will be enough to insure that people follow you. They are not generally looking for a portfolio blue chip presentation, just that you are active, are a photographer and contribute a bit. At this stage, even 30 photographs will be enough – as you post, any photographs are automatically added to this collection and you can put up whole batches. The process is pretty organic from here on in.
Getting Found by Others
What are Circles
Circles are the way you organize people that you follow.
You put people you want to follow into circles – they know they are in a circle of yours but have no way of knowing which circle.
You can put people into more than one circle.
You can now see posts from any or all of these circles.
You can also post to any or all of these circles.
You can rearrange, create, delete circles or add people at will.
There are lists of people with shared interests kicking around the internet. Many of these can be found at this website . I would recommend both signing on to these three and putting some of the people that appeal into your circles straight off the bat:
Emerging Photographers Now, I do have to declare an interest here, this is a group that I curate. I set it up to insure that photographers of all standards who don’t have resources to throw at social networking still get their fair share of exposure. The group currently numbers around 250 and there are some excellent photographers on the list. Follow these people and you will get to see some new and interesting work and get involved in a lot of interaction – if that is what you want.
Photo Critiquing Circle If you are into either having your work critiqued or critiquing others this is an excellent group to join. The expectation here is that if you join you will follow all, or at least as many as possible of the other members. The reason for this is to make the critiques only available to those in the group and not the G+ userbase at large. There are around 700 people in this group at the time of writing. This group was set up by photographer, Colby Brown
Jeff’s Photography and Photographers List This is a huge general list of photographers compiled by Jeff Smith. Put Jeff in one of your circles – just trust me on this!
The actual putting people into circles from these lists is clunky, basically it involves a click on their name then hovering over a button and ticking the circle that you want to put them in then hitting the back button on your browser and repeating with the next name that catches your eye. A bit of advice – aim high, think in terms of putting hundreds of names into your circles.
As soon as you add names to your circles you will see their contributions coming through on your feed. Almost all of these posts from the photographers will consist of an image – if you like it write a comment letting the person know. Start your own posts, either using one of the images that you have already uploaded or with a fresh image. from your computer. Most seem to be mixing new photographs with older stock – this is perfectly acceptable.
Bottom line is that as soon as you start interacting and adding yourself to lists you’ll be up and running. Initially things will be slow, you may get a single comment or +1 (The G+ version of an appreciative grunt) but within days you’ll get a good return on time invested. As far as time to build a presence goes G+ makes Twitter and Facebook seem archaic.
So, that is about it. The process is not daunting but there is a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately there are plenty of people already involved who are more than willing to offer help. If you have any questions that I haven’t addressed here or have not addressed well please comment below. I’ll do whatever I can to help.
My G+ Links
Here is the link to my G+ page: Google Plus Steve Johnson
All the photographs that I’ve uploaded to G+ Steve Johnson Google Plus Photographs