Sony Kando Trip 1.0
The Sony Kando Trip 1.0 was a creative’s amusement park minus the high-ticket prices and long lines for attractions. Over 120 members of both the Sony Artisans and Sony Alpha Imaging Collective were invited to El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara, California during the third week of May.
The group of photographers and videographers all arrived in great spirits and with a warm welcome in the form of food trucks and happy hour. Each invitee was greeted with the newly announced A9 to borrow for their stay, along with a tent full of lenses to rent, any three at a time. Sony announced the new 16-35 2.8 G Master and 12-24 F4 lenses on the second day of the event and they were available to be rented and tested on the various photo adventures.
First up on Day 1, a group headed to a nearby beach to capture surfers at sunrise. Sony Artisans Pete McBride and Ben Moon were amongst those that dawned a wetsuit and rode the waves as the onlookers took in the morning light. The 70-200mm F2.8 GM surely came in handy from shore with its speed and superior quality. For those that missed or ignored the early wakeup call for surfing shots, yoga and meditation classes were an alternative. Breakfast and announcements came next as the news of various sets being installed around the campsite created buzz and excitement.
Speaking of the sets, there was a full modeling set with an old Winnebago-type of motorhome along with props like an American muscle car and vintage furniture. Professional models rocked the sets with full wardrobe changes while makeup artists were on-site to help create different looks. It became the portrait and lifestyle photographer’s hangout because having so many lens options to shoot with made each session that much more exciting.
There were actual wolves among the models on hand, making an appearance with their human model counterparts on the motorhome set at one point. They also posed at various locations on the campgrounds as well as for sunrise on the Day 2, which yielded some epic early morning visuals as the moon was still out. Not to mention that each afternoon the Sound Bath with Wolves class took place before reception and dinner.
Just a golf cart ride away from the campsite on Day 1, a zebra posed with a female model in what looked like a high-fashion shoot in tall grass just off of a rocky trail. The zebra’s handler hid in the bushes while feeding carrots to the majestic animal while high-speed, silent shutters of the A9 captured the in-between moments. It was certainly an experience that most photographers and videographers won’t experience very often or it at all in their careers depending on their area of expertise.
The same could be said about the half pipe that was built on top of a hill that overlooked the main area of El Capitan Canyon. Skilled skaters and bikers rode the half pipe both morning and afternoon while photos and videos were being documented. There was loud music playing as brilliant tricks were being pulled off and the positive energy was flowing. The Alpha Collective’s own Humza Deas hopped on a skateboard and showed off his other talents, which created an obvious bond between he and the other skaters and bikers.
Photo adventures spanned before and after scheduled lunch breaks and the later afternoons consisted of feedback and brainstorm sessions. Topics ranged from Product Development and Innovation, Perfecting the Alpha Universe and Creating the Perfect Camera. In each session, executives from Sony listened to feedback both good and bad in the hopes of continuing to bring the best quality and experience to its products and customers, respectively.
Each evening ended with a reception, dinner and performance of some sort. A stand-up comedian performed the first night while Cheryl Strayed, the best-selling writer of “Wild”, spoke the second night before a concert with The Lone Bellow. Bonfires and socializing would finish the night for most while others would go on an astrophotography hunt for the Milky Way.
Sony Kando 1.0 was a creator’s playground from testing brand new equipment with amazing scenes and sets, while being among each other and a brand that truly wants to build the best equipment possible for its customers. B&H Photo had their own tent on site with a huge drone and an A7S mounted, which ended up taking the group photo. One of their representatives said in conversation “no other camera company does anything like this”.
- Andrew Eggers @AndrewEggers