Hidden away in upstate NY, among 20 fabulous artists and under the instruction of Ben Sasso & Ryan Flynn something was birthed in me that I am even now still processing. Ah-ha moments, floods of information and a refreshment to my artistic heart were just a few of the take aways for me. Funny enough, what I wanted to learn most was the least important thing I needed to learn and what I did take away was was worth far more than the price I payed to attend.
I always want to learn more in camera tips. I want to shoot shoot shoot and leave the “other stuff” on the back burner till the last moment. I always want to learn more in camera because it’s what I love most about being a photographer, I like taking pictures, duh. ;p. Looking at this post you’ll definitely see that yes, we did shoot and it was fabulous and I did learn! But, for me the lessons most impactful were internal ones.
Lessons on how to grow into the artist I desire to be and for the first time, in a long while, being ok with this process. Somehow these guys managed to give me something priceless. Practical tools to help me become this artist and heart guidance to push, no cheer me (and every other artist there) towards this beautiful goal of being the best photographer possible. Of finding fresh inspiration and then, with these tools, seeing that inspiration come alive.
Let me give you an example.
The above image is different for me because of it’s cropping. Such a simple change in itself is not life changing. Cropping 2:1 is not revolutionary for a photographer, people have been doing this long before I did it on this image. But before this workshop I never even thought this was an option.
The crop itself is not the take away. The take away is the freedom it grants. Freedom to express myself a little more. Somewhere along the way I got caught up doing photography a certain way. Shooting for my clients what is “expected” and routine was the mantra for my every day shoot. No one told me its ok to break out of this. No one had shown me that this is what a crop like this can say, this is what shadows this color can convey, or that adding a little light on your subject draws the viewers eyes. etc. You can only grow as far as the tools you posses and by my self I had exhausted the tools in my tool box.
The tools these photographers gave opened up previously shut doors. I gained insight into how to better communicate my art. How to express more fully what I want to say using my camera, editing, blogging, marketing..etc. All of it important and for me, up to this point, widely neglected and unused.
Day two of the workshop and I was feeling a little overwhelmed. There was SO MUCH information and so many things that I NEEDED to start doing. I was starting to feel that downcast shadow so many artists feel. The one whispering “You’re never going to ‘get there. Never going to master your craft.'”. It was like staring down this beautiful, yet unending and daunting, vortex of never ending things to try, implement and conquer.
Then, and I can’t even pin point it, something happen while going through all my images. Or rather while I was going through my images and enjoying all the other photographer’s shots I started settling in.
Where I am is OK. Where I am going is beautiful and everyone here is on the same journey.
Let me encourage you if you are an artist.
Where you are at is OK and where you are headed is beautiful and everyone you see is on a journey. Even Ben and Ryan shared of their Journey’s, past, present and future. It’s the nature of an artist to be constantly growing. Finding new ways to express themselves. Being in this in-between place that is fully alive while creating yet never quite in a place where they say “Well I’ve arrived. I can stop growing now”.
Another chain was loosened. Breaking off as I became more aware of my strengths and weaknesses and gave myself permission to be this imperfect photographer. No longer afraid of my short comings, but embracing them as an area to grow in and seeing my strengths as something beautiful I have to naturally offer each of my clients.
Example. During the “shoot” time I realized (like 1/3 of the way through) that my ISO was HORRIBLY high. I’m talking it was on auto and didn’t realize most my pictures had the amount of grain you see on a sandy beach. (see below)
This was such a rookie mistake that I was blushing in embarrassment as one of the instructors reset my camera and told me, smiling, “Try that”. Ummm….embarrassing. I know some of you are thinking “Geez this is a basic camera setting. Come on.” But this is one area I struggle with, for me it’s a detail. This and capturing other details, telling stories with the little things..ugh. I’m awful at it.
My strengths are more people based. I am confident in my ability to capture natural moments between my couples. To bring out natural smiles and laughs in even the most stoic clients. And I often get so raptured by who I’m shooting I neglect to pay attention to the basic tools I’m using to capture them.
I know these things, but before I would have just beat myself up and kicked my self internally at not being more aware. Of looking ridiculous and not knowing my own camera enough to switch the setting from auto to manual. But today I can honestly say I just laughed.
It happens and honestly I still love the above image. It’s this beautiful, honest, moment between this adorable couple and even though I could have capture it better I still captured it.
Next time I will capture it better.
I am still mulling over all the notes I took at this workshop. I’m figuring out what parts of Ben’s classes I can implement in my own work to enhance what I’m trying to say as an artist. For the first time, in a long time, I’ve got all my weakness out on the table and I’m not ashamed of them anymore.
Now they excite me.
They are areas I can grow in because I feel like I have the tools to become the artist I want to be. They are areas of potential beauty instead of areas of failure.
Are you going to see changes in my work.
Are they going to be life changing, award winning and shocking?..eh. Maybe. Maybe not.
But they will be good because they will be coming from a place of freedom and not shame.
Ben & Ryan (Katch & other Ryan too ;p),
From the bottom of my heart thank you. Thank you for your patience and kind instruction. For being open books and trail blazers. For giving back to the photography community with abandon. I’m forever grateful.