In August, I had the opportunity to spend 4 days out in Asheville, NC with 13 of the most wonderful artists and the one and only Parker J. Pfister at workshop entitled, Do The Workshop.
Terrified is definitely the word I would use to describe how I felt coming into this. While I had the pleasure to take a class and later become friends with Parker at WPPI this year, coming to his class was a whole other ball game. Chatting about art, the state of photography, what IPAs are best and favorite foods of Asheville is easy, though showing my work to not only Parker, but to a room of people that had beautiful portfolios that I admired was enough to make me nauseous.
Everyday was loaded with assignments of varying complexity. But not the type of complexity that tests your technical skills. This was 4 days of getting in your own head, getting out of your own way and pulling out and executing whatever you could imagine; no constraints aside from time and most importantly a safe place to fail.
I could go into all of the assignments we had, but I won't. The assignments themselves weren't what was important, they were building blocks or rather rebuilding blocks, it was the end result, the sum of all of the parts that was the real success to this. It was about no longer just calling ourselves creatives and instead actually being creative. It was listening to our own ideas and making them come alive and not being afraid of if they were weird, if they failed, or if anyone else would get it. It was the relationships that were built there between all of us and the unending support we all shared with one another. And yes, it was a lot of whiskey, a lot of laughs that we shared and many visions brought to life that we all were privileged to witness.
The drive home from the workshop was a rough one. I was finally able to really feel and take stock of the work that had been done, most of which was not done in the camera but in me. I lost it on the drive home, the adrenaline rush had come to an end and I was mentally and emotionally wrecked and I was better for it. What Parker put together was nothing short of magical. He was unbelievably giving of his time, his experiences, his knowledge and his heart. He told us that this would not be a portfolio building workshop, but he did promise that if we did the work that we would walk away changed. And we all did.
I've been saving this post for sometime now as it was a huge changing moment for me, not just in my career but in my life. It was the catapult to changing my brand name and to sharing work that had until now only been saved on my hard drive and stowed away in some dark corner of my brain. Several years ago I struggled with the idea of telling people I was a photographer when they asked what I did. This workshop took it one step further and allowed me to see that I am an artist with a unique voice and brand of story telling who happens to carry a camera as my instrument.
To everyone who attended the workshop (Artemas, Traci, Erin, Kevin, Hosong, Cindy, Sally, Devin, Stacy, Manny, Diego, Beebe and Corinne) thank you. You are all amazing and I can't wait to see what we all have to share at this time next year, I'm expecting big things! To the amazing models (Amanda, Joey, Betsabe, Aislin, Kalyn and Morgan) who gave us their time, their patience and their willingness to work with our sometimes weird requests - thank you all. To the hair and makeup magicians (Zhenya and Zack), just wow! Your work was inspirational to say the least, what you created made fireworks fly in our imaginations. To Joe Photo, your energy and your smile are addictive. You also took Corinne and I under your wing and showed us how to take that first step to being more comfortable in street portraiture, while I am still terrified of approaching people, I am less so than before and I have a project I will be starting soon that will force the issue. To the Albermarle Inn, hopefully we didn't ruin your rep in the neighborhood with our evening antics. And lastly and most importantly to Parker J Pfister, I know you don't like praise heaped upon you, but brother, you have earned it. You gave us this time and place to begin finding out who we really are, and you did so selflessly. This could have easily been your workshop but you made it ours and all you asked from us was to do the work. I have such respect for your work, your vision and your approach. You continue to inspire me and your friendship means the world to me. So thank you, thank you, and thank you again.