Darren Rowse and Digital Photography School

What it felt like was a really weird version of high school. Alright, alright. It was JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL. Complete in its awkward glory and social cliques. But I knew SXSW was going to be like that. I was prepared and I was actually excited to get lost in the mass. Until, that is, I got lost in the mass.

On Thursday night I sat in our hotel bed with the SXSW catalogue/schedule and planned the following day's events. And JD just sighed. You know, in that Oh-woman-you-kill-me kind of way. And I shrugged and ignored his non-verbal communication. Because, really, I'm the Emperor of NonVerbalVille, so don't get it twisted. I let out a hmph and in that single moment I let him know I was planning our day…because as we all know, I need to PLAN TO HAVE FUN. Because I'm cool in that geriatric kind of way.

Friday was spent in social media and technology presentations, but the one event I was most excited for was Darren Rowse‘s. Darren is a mega blogger and I've grown to respect him in epic proportions. Most of this is due to his passion for helping others…he does it better than anyone on the web. If you're a photographer and haven't checked out Digital Photography School, you're missing out. It's a completely free resource for photographers of all levels, so be sure to check out the blog and the forum. Anyway, I was stoked to hear what he had to say, but five minutes into his presentation, the emergency alarm goes off and thousands of people are asked to leave the Austin Convention Center. Awesome.

I was hungry, grumpy, and bummed. So I wallowed at a nearby Pita Pit…nothing says comfort like a falafel. Later that night I forced myself to be social and go to a SXSW mixer. JD and I walked in and I was immediately overcome with the noise, the trading of tech business cards, and the stench of tequila. I lasted all of ten minutes. Before we left, JD noticed I was bummed so he offered to introduce me to a couple girls sitting at a table. Oh, riiight, that's exactly what I need…HELP MAKING FRIENDS.

We ended up grabbing a late dinner at Peche (seriously, the best meal we had in Austin…so amazing) and chatted the night away. Yes, I was in a funk. But what could I do to change it? Exactly that. Change it.

I got back in our hotel room and I emailed Darren. The note was short, but I offered my services to Darren in case he needed new headshots. Truth was, I simply wanted to meet him and thank him personally for all he's done. If taking his picture was my way to do it, then rock on. The next morning, I received an email from Darren and the shoot was planned.

Darren, thank you. I'm not sure in the blur of our shoot if I was able to express my appreciation for what you're doing for the community, but thank you. If you're any indication of where the industry is headed, then I'm stoked to keep moving forward.

Our shoot was really, really short…maybe like 25 minutes or so…and it all took place in one square block. I love Austin…I could shoot there everyday!

One thing I was really impressed with was Darren's quiet adoration of his family…he mentioned his kids are the calm and peace of his world…how could you NOT like this guy?! 🙂

The light in Austin was pretty awesome…I love shooting in cityscapes!

I was sort of nervous asking Darren to sit in this smelly alley, on these filthy stairs, but he was so awesome and agreed…and I'm extra happy pictures don't capture the smell! 😉

For more information on Darren, you can check out his sites: ProBlogger.net and Digital Photography School.

And as a quick reminder, be sure to snag a seat at the Escalate Conference in Newport Beach this May 17-18, 2010…the introductory seats for $179 are going fast! 🙂