This past weekend I set out on a blind journey. Not exactly knowing where I was headed, or even where I was coming from...
The weekend started a few months ago actually when I heard about the Discovery workshop the infamous Me Ra Koh was putting together in the Bay Area. I sat on the idea for a few weeks, afraid to even graze the idea with my hubby. Something kept pulling at me and we finally decided to take the plunge and make the investment. This past weekend I met 22 amazing participants. All women, and all seemed to be in the same place emotionally that I found myself in. Together, we set out on a journey of self discovery.
Me Ra has summed up our day 1 on her blog, but more than anything, day 1 reaffirmed that something was lacking in me. I define myself so much by the military, by my husband, and by our child that I was lacking. I had forgotten to check in with myself and to see who that person is and what she has to say.
Day 2 started out at Stinson Beach, after we walked off the car sickness from the winding drive out there. Rick Chapman, was there to guide us through his creative process of making a portrait. After fireside chats with Rick, we set out to capture the locals. I am amazed at what you find out about a person through a simple conversation. Everyone has a story...
This is Lauren. He has overcome so much in his life and he is still able to climb the side of a rock and say "thank you!"
After Day 2, I still felt like something was lacking in me and I was beginning to get frustrated. I kept thinking back to our day 1 experience. Why could I not show my face in any of my self portraits? I still felt like I was shadowed in this process. Like I had a voice, but didn't really know what to say. Even more frustrating was that we were given the tools to put into words what our emotions conveyed, but I couldn't figure out how to get past that point. I was still holding myself back, and I wasn't sure why. Day 3 changed that for me.
The day began with mini breakout workshops. I needed the most help with Lighting, so I set off with Garrett's group. I finally learned how to use my flash! (woohoo!) After that, I took a mini field trip around the property with Rick's group where he showed me a few awesome tricks for working with not so ideal locations and backgrounds. The mini sessions were over way too quickly and I longed for more time, as well as the opportunity to participate in the other great sessions that also took place. The last bit of instruction came from Me Ra and her always humorous hubby Brian. It was such a trip to watch them interact together...a bit of comic relief between laughter and tears. Me Ra and Brian gave me the focus and direction that I was craving and lacking and I was eager to put into practice what we had learned. After lunch, the models starting filtering in!
My fabulous photography partner and I started out with our couple, Matt and Laura. These two are amazing photographers/graphic designers in their own right, so it was a little nerve wracking to be paired with them. As soon as we started talking, I felt completely comfortable with them and my fears went right out the window. They are such an inspiring couple that shared true passion and genuine love for one another. I didn't want to move my camera away for fear of missing an intimate moment between them!
Then we moved on to our beautiful family, Heather, Rick and their 2 children. I don't think I've ever had more fun during a photoshoot than with little man L and Miss E. Me Ra's tips helped us move past the kids inhibitions of having to get their picture taken.
I've been going back and forth with the idea of sharing this experience on my blog. Call me selfish, but I felt like this was such an intimate and revealing experience that I wanted to keep it hidden. Well, maybe not so much hidden as held tight. Then, I remember what Me Ra had said during the workshop about blogging. She told us to think of blogging as being "in service" to someone else. Sometimes I find that in this industry especially, the sharing of knowledge and information to those trying to "break in" is such taboo that each photographer has to reinvent the wheel to get anywhere. So, my lesson to you is to check in with yourself and always remember that you have a voice. Let it guide you.