On the eve of Google Plus first anniversary, Jamie Furlong co-ordinated the Cochin Photowalk along with Viewfinder, an Indian photography collective and Google Plus users. This article has been reproduced from Jamie’s Google Plus post where he shares his experience and learnings from the Photowalk.
Every once in a while an event happens that’s so memorable, it touches your heart and stays with you forever. On Saturday 30th June in Cochin, India, one such event touched the hearts of 100 people. It was certainly something I shall remember for the rest of my life, and as a photographer, it was an honour to be part of it. To help memorize that day I have for your viewing pleasure a short video, which I encourage my Google Plus friends to watch and share because it sums up perfectly just how brilliant that day was and demonstrates the level of camaraderie amongst Google Plus users.
On 30th June, the social media website Google Plus celebrated its first anniversary, and based on an idea originally mooted by photographer +Thomas Hawk and overseen by photographer +Joe Vallee, over 100 cities across the globe organised local photowalks on the same day to celebrate Google Plus’s birthday. The events were co-ordinated by volunteers, users of Google Plus, and I (+Jamie Furlong) put myself forward to manage the Cochin photowalk (if you’ve no idea what this involves, I recommend use of the expression ‘herding cats’).
Fortunately over the last couple of months, I’ve been hanging out with members of an Indian photography collective called Viewfinder, a group that ironically started out on Facebook, and with assistance from the administrators of that group we were able to co-ordinate a photowalk, mid-monsoon, through the centre of Cochin.
One hundred and twenty people signed up online but I was warned that this would not be indicative of the actual number of participants. “Expect less than half that”, I was told. “You’ll be lucky if twenty people turn up”, said others. I entertained horror stories of previous events being organised where only six of the sixty people signed up, actually made it to the start line. Add to that the heavy possibility of rain, what with it being monsoon season here in India, I decided that thirty people would be a real success. What they hadn’t counted on was my ability to pester and bully people into submission.
On the day, 97 people appeared outside the central shopping mall to register their part in the Google Plus 1st Anniversary Cochin Photowalk! There were so many we had to get permission from the police commissioner and split into groups, reforming at the other end and frequently bumping into each other along the way. The highlight of the day for me was walking through the vegetable market and hearing a trader shout “Google Plus!” at the top of his voice! Word had certainly got around.
To get this many people together was a real achievement and judging by the reaction on Google Plus and Facebook, this was a momentous occasion. Some people travelled hours by train to join us. A few did not have cameras, though there were plenty of others on hand to share their equipment. I’ve even noticed some adding this event as ‘a lifetime achievement’ on their Facebook profiles. All this certainly warms my heart.
It was great that Indian photography and Indian photographers were able to raise their profile and it also helped bring about some awareness of Google Plus as a medium for photogs. Here in Cochin most people only use and share their photos on Facebook (clearly oblivious to its horrendous terms and conditions). They don’t really ‘get’ Google Plus and the opportunities it offers, preferring to stay within the safety of familiarity (+Sumit Sen, +Jasbir S. Randhawa, +JEFFREY JAMES – we have work to do). The support from Viewfinder members was fantastic but I hope this walk helps them realise there are better places to be online if they want to develop their profile as photographers and meet other equally enthusiastic people from around the world.
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This video is a fantastic reminder of how many great photographers are out there pacing the streets of Cochin, and if you’re unfamiliar with the place, this clip paints the perfect picture of this busy, industrial and fun city.
Respect to everyone who took part.