(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)
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.
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.