In May of last year, I was invited by Sony to the warm California coast to attend what I had thought was just a standard media trip. When I boarded my flight to Santa Barbara, I was shocked to see that I knew about half of the people on the flight. They were either photographer and media friends I had known personally or online. Suddenly the reality hit me. This was no ordinary media trip. This was Sony’s Kando Trip 1.0, a meeting of the minds of hundreds of creatives in the tranquil setting of a remote canyon just steps away from the Pacific Ocean.
When I returned, I was so blown away by what Sony had pulled off, I wrote about my favorite moments of the 3-day weekend. While I thought my photos from the experience were decent, there were so many from the Sony Alpha Collective members as well as the Sony Artisans’, I used those photos to help me tell my story.
Since then, I have been craving for news of a follow up trip, and in late January, Sony delivered the news I was expecting. The first Kando trip was such a success, they were doing another. But this time, everyone is invited.
The Sony Kando Trip 2.0 is taking place May 9th through the 12th, 2018 in scenic Monterey, California. In addition to the Sony Artisan and Collective members whose have blown us away over the years, Sony is opening the event to any creative who would like to attend. More information can be found on their website.
So, with the excitement of last year’s trip still fresh in my mind, I am here to tell you why I think you should attend the Sony Kando Trip 2.0.
Not knowing about the details of the trip before I had left, the last thing I expected to find on that California Coast was inspiration. But Sony Kando 1.0 delivered just that. A hearty dose of inspiration. Obviously, I am a travel junkie, so I immediately wanted to know about the places visited and the stories behind the travels of the Artisans and Alpha Collective Members. I have found that there aren’t many things that get people talking non-stop when you meet them for the first time, but there are two sure-fire homeruns to get them talking. Ask someone about either their kids or their travels and get prepared to listen. Once I asked these talented visual artists about their travels, the flood gates opened. They told me story after story, their must see and must avoid locations, and their bucket list destinations. They showed me their favorite photos on their phones. I found myself being reminded that even though I had been to so many places in my life, there was still so much out there that I hadn’t seen. And I was filled with inspiration and ideas that I continue to plan to this day.
You will be amazed how easy it is to forge friendships when you are in a remote canyon with 200 other people for three straight days. The trip started as a large gathering on the central Californian coast and ended as the “Kando Community.” For weeks and months afterwards, I chatted non stop with the people who I spent time with during that weekend. We had all felt like we were a part of something unique. Something special. That we were part of the lucky few to live that experience. To this day, when I see people who were a part of Kando 1.0, it is the first thing that we reminisce about.
Friendships were made, inside jokes were born, and a sense of collective collaboration washed over the canyon.
The Food And Drink
Ok, really there isn’t much more to say. The food, from the onsite food trucks slanging tacos, pizza, and BBQ, to the lavish meals provided by a large catering company, was exceptional. And all of that delicious goodness was washed down with craft beers by local breweries, fine wines by local wineries, and a full bar. So if you are an aspiring food photographer, the Kando trip should provide some eye candy (and real candy) to satisfy your appetite.
As I said, I went to Kando 1.0 not knowing what to expect. But never in my wildest dreams did I expect a vintage movie set full of models, trailers, classic cars, wolves, snakes and zebras. Did I expect a halfpipe on top of a mountain being thrashed by professional BMX athletes? Did I expect a concert by Southern-born, Brooklyn-based indie-folk trio the Lone Bellow? The answers are no, no, and a big no.
Sony pulled out all the stops for Kando 1.0. They didn’t cut corners. They didn’t want Kando to be an event, they wanted it to be an experience. And it was. And I am sure Kando 2.0 will be as well.
This year, Sony is adding a educational element to their Kando experience. Everyone who attends will have access to all of the workshops offered by Sony Artisans and other leaders in the creative industry. Landscapes, video, street, astro, time-lapse, portrait, drone, business and social classes are just some of the offerings.
I am a born and bred networker. I just love meeting people while sharing a beer, getting to know them and their hopes and dreams, and how they plan to go about achieving them. I have worked with countless people over the years through my love of networking. I was even hired at SmugMug with the unofficial job title of ‘Social Butterfly.‘ I was made a job offer by Resource Magazine’s CEO, Alexandra Niki, at a bar in Las Vegas at 2am. My entire career up until this point has been based on networking, and even I was blown away by the possibilities at Kando 1.0.
I was able to chat with industry legends like National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita. I rekindled relationships with Sony Artisans who I hadn’t seen in years. I was able to meet countless up and coming Alpha Collective photographers. And I was able to trade journalism stories with my fellow members of the media. All of those conversations continue to bear fruit almost 9 months later.
The Networking aspect of Kando even led to some amazing and unique content from the beautiful African country of Namibia. My friend and Sony Artisan Colby Brown found himself in a conversation with the talented Alpha Collective member Erin Sullivan. They talked about their shared love of travel and nature, and just months later, Brown had invited Sullivan to accompany him on a weeks long project in Namibia. Check out Sullivan’s story and photos of the adventure.
Obviously, networking comes easier for some people than others. But I found that the remoteness of the Kando location along with the sense of community made for a no-pressure networking atmosphere. So whether you want to pitch your stories to media companies like Resource Travel or have a casual conversation with other creatives who you may be able to collaborate with, the Sony Kando Trip 2.0 should be one of your best opportunities this year.
So there you have it. I will be at the Sony Kando Trip 2.0. And I am beyond excited about it. So, who is coming with me?
Big thanks to Sally and Dan Watson from Learning Cameras for additional photos of the Sony Kando 1.0 trip!