So I have talked about this before in the past- last year to be exact, and I am going to do my best to talk about it now so bear with me. Becca and I just spent a week last week as staff of a workshop in Dallas that really and truly changes lives. The reason I say bear with me is that even though I have been back for a week now I still can not really grasp what we all went through. Let just start with what this thing is all about. It is called the Foundation Workshop and was conceived and started by an incredible ex-photojournalist from the Dallas Morning News- Huy Nguyen. It all started 6 years ago as a gathering of like mined wedding photojournalists and has evolved into one of the most sought after workshops in the country. How do I fit in to this? Well I was a student at FW2 and have been on staff ever since. For the past two years I have had the distinct honor of being one of 5 team leaders at Foundation workshop. I was among some pretty intense company- Huy, Greg Gibson, Amy Deputy, and my good friend Brooks Whittington were the other team leaders this year. The idea behind this intense workshop is to teach wedding photojournalists how to think and see like a real photojournalist. Basically it is a workshop for wedding PJ shooters that have no PJ experience. The week is pretty nuts and people end up being pushed to and beyond their limits in most cases. Students are given a brief explanation how real Photojournalism works on Monday then they are sent out on Tuesday to photograph a real life assignment like they were working for a newspaper. Then they return on Tuesday evening after 8 plus hours in the field and the entire team looks at their work and the team leader offers his or her critique. Then the knowledge they gain on Tuesday is meant to be applied to the same assignment on Wednesday. Well that is on the surface how this thing works. What actually happens is sometimes a whole other thing. The week culminates with a wonderful presentation dinner on thursday night where the entire workshop views slideshows of all the participants work from the week. This is a wonderful night filled with lots of laughter, tears, and emotion. Overwhelmingly inspiring.
I LOVE this workshop and am truly addicted to it. The extreme feeling of gratification that I was able to help mold 5 people’s photographic lives is pretty amazing! Not to mention what it does for me also. I spend so much time talking to others about photography that I end up teaching myself and reminding myself what is important. More importantly all of us share a bond and make multiple friends for life.
What an emotional week. Not only was I exhausted from no sleep and long hours in the editing chair I was emotionally exhausted by all the extra friendships that I had the opportunity to foster throughout the week. Not to mention all the new ones formed also. But my team was incredible. My good friend, Janine McClintock, from Iowa was my wonderful assistant, the wonderful David Murray, from Maine, and the equally wonderful Erin Adams, from Lacour in Atlanta made up the dynamic duo of mentors for our team. My students who I am so proud of were- Tim Forbes, Ashley Langford, Ed Atrero, David Pullum– my token Brit all the way from England, and the ever so fun Karen Evens. They all blew me away this week with the hurdles they were able to overcome and produce a final body of work that just rocked! I am going to stop typing soon and show some images, but first a thought on this experience. As much as this workshop is rooted in and around photography, I have said for years that it is so much more than just a photography workshop, it is a life workshop. Everyone involved ends up tackling and changing something about them, their personalities, and their fears this week. Even though this has nothing to do with the actual photography it ends up making the difference down the road in their work. Because if you have any obstacles or fears about people or life you can not fully take advantage of properly documenting peoples lives. I really believe that and this workshop is an opportunity to face those fears head on. In the people photography business you must have the confidence and ability to find admiration in everyone you meet. Cause if you can not find that common ground or appealing aspect about your subjects you will never be able to connect with them, thus you will never be able to accurately tell their story visually. Bot students and staff learned this.
This is a crazy long post- please forgive me.
I can not wait to do this again. Thankfully I do not have to wait a year. My dear friend Emilie Sommer from Maine has put together a similar workshop built on the same building blocks as foundation called Roots Workshop. I highly suggest anyone to run don’t walk to the website to sign up for this. There are only a few spots left and after what Foundation did for people they will surely be gone fast. I hope to see you there this July!!
So I first want to post some images I shot during the week and then I will post my favorite image from each of my students from the week.
Meet Ben Chrisman. This dude can see and shoot! He was one of the official photographers of the event. Here he is at the skate park on Monday evening.
Karen Evans and I having fun at the skate park with off camera flash.
What a great night it was out there. We really did have a great time.
Here is me getting in harms way trying to demonstrate how to get close! Maybe I was a bit to close!!!!
Tim Forbes in the field shooting. I always love to visit students in the field. I just wish I could have visited everyone.
So now for a look at what the students produced this week.
Ashley had a couple who ran a Lavender farm. Nothing really happened. Welcome to Photojournalism. He managed to make some really great images though.
Ed had a doggy day care place. Basically where dogs go for the day and pampered etc…..
Karen was at a fire house for two days.
Tim spent his time at the Allen Animal Shelter.
Finally David’s assignment was the local skate park.
A sweet shot by Ben Chrisman of me during some late night editing.
Man I am long winded! I will be back with more FW stuff later I am sure, just as soon as I make sense of all the lessons.
Thanks for listening