That was my experience with Foundation Workshop 13.
At the end of January my life was changed for the better. Thank you to the staff and students who wrapped their loving arms around me while I attended the greatest “workshop” of my life. I thought I was going to better my photography skills. Boy, I couldn’t be more wrong (and right). So here is a little who, what, when, where, why about what it is and what happened to me.
***Photographer disclaimer: If you are a photographer who is at all interested in this amazing experience, please keep in mind that it is very different for each person who attends, a lot of thought and consideration is placed on who your team and instructors are as well as to the assignment you are given.
Who: Me, myself and I – and my Ego.
What: The Foundation Workshop is a photojournalism workshop for wedding photographers. http://fworkshop.com At least that’s what the description was. However, it was so much more. I think it should’ve been described something like this,
“An adoptive family for wedding photographers to help them overcome their fears in order to become more productive and loving members of society, trust themselves more, discover their confidence and voice, and help them with photojournalism skills.”
I was assigned to the most amazing team. They were all strangers and after just a few days I would consider them all family. (Thank you to Joe Appel for the team photo!)
Instructor – Kirsten Bethmann http://kirstenlewisphoto.com
Mentor – David Murray http://davidmurrayweddings.com
Assistant – Joe Appel http://joeappelphotography.com
Team Mate – Rebekah Sampson http://www.rebekahsampson.com
Team Mate – Heidi Pastor http://www.heidiharf.com
Team Mate – Marieke Zwartscholten http://www.mariekezwartscholten.nl
After a day of classroom activities and some good times we were given our photojournalism assignments at midnight, and most of us had to be out the door that morning very early. Mine was a beautiful family in a rural Texas town. I was given their names, the day’s activities, and an address…and a pat on the back. “Good luck,” we told each other.
I was excited, exhausted, anxious, freaked out, unconfident, scared….I could go on. It was a gambit of emotions that hit me like a steam train. And my train was coming to an abrupt halt as I realized through my first day of shooting that I had a lot of Ego and fears blocking my way from being the photographer I wanted to be. Guilt, a need to be perfect, fear of being intrusive and people not liking me, man…you name it. It all came out in a 24-hour period. Kirsten and David worked their magic on me, pushing, prodding, teaching, and loving me as I fought through a lot of tears. After a long day I walked back into the hotel and slipped on the sidewalk (it was raining) and fell like a scene out of a movie. It was like the final soul-crushing blow. But in true Foundation form the doors opened and I walked into the arms of a very loving and understanding family. In the wee hours of the morning as we critiqued away I finally broke. I think this photo says it all.
(All fworkshop.com photos courtesy of Dexter Lo – staff photographer – http://www.dexterlo.com)
I woke up the next morning feeling empty, I got some good hugs and love and was sent on my way for an even longer day of shooting. Around lunchtime that day Kirsten showed up, opened her heart up to me, which in turn opened my heart and it was like a scene from a Disney movie. If there were talking animals and rays of sun shining down I would’ve believed it. Something snapped and I suddenly felt free. Free to be me, love my work unconditionally, not care, and shoot from my heart. I took the best photos after that point and even though I was physically exhausted I enjoyed every single second of it. Critiques were so different from that moment on, everything was really. And everything continues to be.
When: The next Workshop is in January 2016, however applications are now being accepted and the spots go very quickly. I am hoping they let me return. My journey is not complete and I feel I need to go again. They are also doing something very cool and having a beginner class and a medium/advanced class. Go here for more information! http://fworkshop.com
Where: The Workshop took place in Glen Rose, Texas. It was one of the most amazingly friendly and charming small towns I have ever visited. Plus it has Dinosaur Valley State Park, come a day early or stay a day late and visit it. It was actually really cool!
(Amazing iPhone photo by Gary Nevitt Jr. http://www.garynevittphotographyblog.com)
Why: I took this workshop to be a better photographer. I left a better person. A better me. Everybody’s “Why” is so different. It is not for the faint of heart, and if you are not willing to keep working through total exhaustion and soul searching then it is not for you. However, the beginner class will be for you! Either way, if you want to better yourself and your art then get your application in, NOW.
And finally, after taking thousands of photos over 2 days, I leave you with these 2 teasers only – because it wasn’t about the photos really. It was about HOW I take them. WHY I take them. It was learning how to tell my story through them.
What was my story? I mean afterall it was a photojournalism class, right? My story was about this beautiful little soul in a very quite family who shined the brightest amongst all of them. Maybe I found this story because I could see myself shining like her. All I know was she is my voice, these photos are my voice. A voice I worked (and am still working) really hard to find and made heard. Thank you to the wonderful Cole family for making this entire thing possible as well. You will always have such a special place in my heart.
Thank you to Huy Nguyen for this workshop, my Instructor and Mentor for their belief in me and their hard work to make it happen, my team for their love and support, and every single person there. You were all involved with my experience at Foundation Workshop. It is because of you that my smile shines through my work. I will never be able to show each of you the amount of gratitude you deserve and I am forever lucky to call each one of you my friends, colleagues, and inspiration.
If you have any questions about Foundation Workshop please feel free to email or call me. I would love to share!