Should photographers go to SXSW?

by Lan Bui on February 9, 2010

Noodle Scar attending SXSW 7210

(I’ve been meaning to write about photographers and SXSW for a while when suddenly yesterday I received a message from Jasmine Star asking the exact question I wanted to answer… Thanks Jasmine for motivating me to actually write this)

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First, for those that know what SXSW is and do not want to read this post… Yes, you should go. It will change your life.

Second, for those of you that don’t know what SXSW is… South By Shouthwest (or SXSX) is a music, film and interactive media festival held in Austin, Texas each year. That description does it no justice though so I’ll elaborate. SXSW attracts 29,000 registrants each year to teach, party and mix with each other. Of the three parts of SXSW I’ll mostly talk about SXSWi (or South By Southwest Interactive) because that is where it all happened for me. I have participated in some of the music festivities; I love to walk down Sixth Street and stop in and listed to a random band that makes me wonder why they are not signed to some major label (and making it in the top ten on iTunes). I’ve also been to a few films at SXSW; many are independent films that you may never hear of again but they are gems, and you can also see early releases of what will become major independent films months later.

So… SXSW Interactive…

SXSWi… Is where I first really started using Twitter… Three years ago… Yep, three years ago, way before Oprah and Miley Cyrus and likely even you had even heard of it. I feel lucky that when I started using Twitter, we didn’t even know what it was really going to become. It was just the best way for groups of friends to follow each other and keep in touch. That, again, was three years ago… I can’t wait to find out what is new this year at SXSWi that will change my life.

SXSWi… Is where you will really learn what New Media is. I’ve been able to sit down and have dinner with major players at Facebook, DIGG, Myspace and been able to sit and talk face to face with the people that are changing the world.

SXSWi… Is where I’ve sat in a session and learned mind-blowing things. The speakers don’t get chosen because of how cool they are or how popular they are… They are chosen because of how they have changed the world… or because they truly are the one person in the world that should be speaking on that subject.

SXSWi… Is where I’ve built business relationships that are lasting years. Photography industry trade shows are great for learning how a rockstar photographer built their business. They even will teach you the perfect lighting setup or the perfect workflow… but it won’t introduce you to your clients. It won’t let you sit down with, hang out, listen to live music, have a good time, get to know… and most importantly… bond with the people that just might pay your salary for the next few years.

That is where it is totally worth going. If not to find out what is cool, if not to learn about New Media, if not to hear someone speak about something mind blowing… Go to SXSW because the other attendees, speakers, trade show vendors and businesses need your services. You just need to be there to meet them.

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Oh, and one last thing… Vu and I are speaking this year… if you come you have to attend to our session, read the details here now.

-Lan

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  • http://www.jasminestarblog.com/ Jasmine Star

    Thanks SO much for this helpful information. I seriously want to go this year! :)

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      You are welcome!

      I hope to see you there!

  • http://www.jasminestarblog.com Jasmine Star

    Thanks SO much for this helpful information. I seriously want to go this year! :)

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      You are welcome!

      I hope to see you there!

  • http://blog.halbergphotographers.com/ Tim Halberg

    you guys rock!!! ok… looking into attending NOW

  • http://blog.halbergphotographers.com Tim Halberg

    you guys rock!!! ok… looking into attending NOW

  • http://blog.halbergphotographers.com/ Tim Halberg

    oh crap… it’s right after WPPI… hmm… so, which dates would you say would be the best to attend… the music portion is later…? what would a newbie be wise to attend?

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      The best advice I can give it just to go… no plan… no schedule… just go and see what feels right when you get there. You can look up all of the sessions on the SXSW website and plan out what you think will be interesting if you want to as well.

      Since there are so many sessions, just look at the titles and see what tickles you. If when you are there it doesn’t fit what you are wanting, just move to another session!

  • http://blog.halbergphotographers.com Tim Halberg

    oh crap… it’s right after WPPI… hmm… so, which dates would you say would be the best to attend… the music portion is later…? what would a newbie be wise to attend?

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      The best advice I can give it just to go… no plan… no schedule… just go and see what feels right when you get there. You can look up all of the sessions on the SXSW website and plan out what you think will be interesting if you want to as well.

      Since there are so many sessions, just look at the titles and see what tickles you. If when you are there it doesn’t fit what you are wanting, just move to another session!

  • http://blog.halbergphotographers.com/ Tim Halberg

    I’m soooo ADHD… so you said the interactive portion… but I mean, should attendance overlap into the other parts?

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      If you get a pass that will get you into music and film you should definitely stay for them!

      I think all I can recommend is to follow someone you know on twitter, and look for what sessions they are going to once you get there. People usually tweet about what session they are going to next, what party or what event… so it is pretty easy to find out what is going on.

    • http://vubui.com/ vubui

      I’ll tell you ONE session you should definitely attend is OURS. :)

      We’ll be going over DSLR video and gear!

      Other than that I have to agree with Lan… find the sessions that mean the most to you from the LONG lists of them… and go without a plan and just enjoy it all!

  • http://blog.halbergphotographers.com Tim Halberg

    I’m soooo ADHD… so you said the interactive portion… but I mean, should attendance overlap into the other parts?

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      If you get a pass that will get you into music and film you should definitely stay for them!

      I think all I can recommend is to follow someone you know on twitter, and look for what sessions they are going to once you get there. People usually tweet about what session they are going to next, what party or what event… so it is pretty easy to find out what is going on.

    • http://vubui.com vubui

      I’ll tell you ONE session you should definitely attend is OURS. :)

      We’ll be going over DSLR video and gear!

      Other than that I have to agree with Lan… find the sessions that mean the most to you from the LONG lists of them… and go without a plan and just enjoy it all!

  • http://www.morethananimage.com/ Lacy

    wow! Right after WPPI this year… so you guys are going straight over huh? Your session is on the 12th right? I remember when you went to this last year Vu! :)

    • http://vubui.com/ vubui

      Hi Lacy!

      Actually last year I missed SXSW but Lan still went. This year we’re going straight from WPPI to Austin… though our talk is actually on Monday the 15th.

      How far is Austin from you?

  • http://www.morethananimage.com Lacy

    wow! Right after WPPI this year… so you guys are going straight over huh? Your session is on the 12th right? I remember when you went to this last year Vu! :)

    • http://vubui.com vubui

      Hi Lacy!

      Actually last year I missed SXSW but Lan still went. This year we’re going straight from WPPI to Austin… though our talk is actually on Monday the 15th.

      How far is Austin from you?

  • John

    Do you guys have a group going with you? I would love to tag along with your crew and explore SXSW and also lend a helping hand if you guys need.

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      Hi John!

      We don’t really have an official group… but if you follow us on twitter you will surely be able to find out what we are up to at any given time!

      http://twitter.com/vubui
      http://twitter.com/lanbui

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      Oh, and about helping us out… thanks so much for offering!!! I’ll let you know if something comes up.

      • john

        Thank you for the reply. I will def. start with the twitter. Please inform me if something comes up. Small world, my wedding photographer knows you guys. Coincidence, when I asked her if she knew you guys because I was following your blog, and she said “yes”.

        • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

          That’s awesome! Who is that person?

  • John

    Do you guys have a group going with you? I would love to tag along with your crew and explore SXSW and also lend a helping hand if you guys need.

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      Hi John!

      We don’t really have an official group… but if you follow us on twitter you will surely be able to find out what we are up to at any given time!

      http://twitter.com/vubui
      http://twitter.com/lanbui

    • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

      Oh, and about helping us out… thanks so much for offering!!! I’ll let you know if something comes up.

      • john

        Thank you for the reply. I will def. start with the twitter. Please inform me if something comes up. Small world, my wedding photographer knows you guys. Coincidence, when I asked her if she knew you guys because I was following your blog, and she said “yes”.

        • http://www.LanBui.com Lan Bui

          That’s awesome! Who is that person?

  • john

    Natalie Williams.

  • john

    Natalie Williams.

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