For those who don't know, Sony hosts a yearly event called Kando. Kando is a Japanese word that roughly translates to "the sense of awe and the emotion you feel when experiencing something beautiful and amazing for the first time." So, does this experience live up to its name?
I've had about a week since my time at the latest Sony Kando Trip. While past Sony Kando events have had a limited number of tickets available for purchase (in 2020, they even had a virtual event that was open to everyone), this year's event was strictly invite only. As you could imagine, the list of attendees was nothing short of a who's who in the industry from National Geographic photographers to documentary filmmakers to TikTok and YouTube stars — roughly 250 creators that are performing at the best in their fields.
As I keep getting asked questions about this event, I've been trying to think of a good way to explain what it's really all about. While there are classes and booths, it's absolutely not a conference. This year, there weren't even any vendors outside of the Sony umbrella. And while the classes were great, I'd say it was the least of what Kando had to offer.
Lighting from an Aputure 1200D with Narrow reflector through an 8X8 scrim
Instead, Kando felt more like a playground, a place that felt safe to create without limits. Every dinner was paired with multiple high-end production setups filled with models, lighting, and amazing backdrops. There were also models available almost every free hour of the day that you could simply take to go create whatever you wanted. And you felt safe to do so because everywhere you looked, people were creating. So, there wasn't that awkward "all eyes on you" feeling you can get when you're talking to a camera in a crowded space.
Creators also felt safe to create whatever they wanted because no one was brought to Kando with the expectations to create. There were no contracts that stated you must share material on social media or make a video. Everyone was invited to Kando simply to experience what they had to share. Whether you created something from that was entirely up to you.
You also had little to no limits on what you wanted to do. Sony brought an arsenal of gear for everyone involved to check out. If you wanted to push yourself and create with an unreleased (at the time) Xperia 5 IV phone, then you could. If you wanted to shoot with the high-dollar 400mm f/2.8 GM lens paired to an a1 camera, then you could do that too. They even had setups from sunrise all the way through the dead of night from sunrise shoots on the lake to astrophotography and light-painting classes. They even had pottery classes and goat yoga to help you relax and unwind between your shoots.
But not only was Kando an amazing place to create, it was also a place to connect. And this is what I feel this event was really all about: connecting with fellow creators and industry experts to people paving the way with NFT to rising stars of TikTok. There were ad agency experts and even people breaking new ground with virtual production (they even had an actual virtual production studio setup on site). Everywhere you turned, you were met with an open invitation to chat with someone doing amazing things.
Lastly, Kando was a place to be heard. It's rare to be able to talk to a large brand and express the things you'd like to see. It's even rarer for that large brand to listen, so much so that Sony held daily office hours where you could sit down and talk with real Sony engineers brought all the way from Japan. You could tell them all the things you love and more importantly, all the things you'd like to see changed about their current offerings. You could even express your desire for them to release an updated model for something like the Sony RX1.
At the end of the day, Sony Kando is an event that makes you proud to be part of the Sony family. Not because their gear is better than the rest. But because their community and support are better than the rest. They listen, encourage, and help their community grow. They even just released an online forum in an effort to help do this virtually and year-round. So, while this past Kando event wasn't open to the public, keep your eyes peeled for next year's, and hopefully, you'll be able to find your way to this amazing experience, because this event definitely lives up to the name Kando.