Where documentary wedding photographers go to sharpen their skills.
Why are there pictures of me photographing people and cows on my blog? Well, I did it for my clients!!! Okay now you’re really confused. Let me explain….
I recently returned from a 5 day photography workshop in Glen Rose, TX. The workshop is FOUNDATION WORKSHOP and is where we wedding photographers go to get our butts kicked. Just kidding. It’s where we go to become better photographers by getting brutally honest feedback on our work. We get to learn from some of the best in the photojournalism industry, and then we get to go into the field on a photo assignment and apply it. The focus is not on weddings this week… It is on MOMENTS… and people… and images that tell a story…. Images that make you feel something when you look at them. Or images that make you think WHOA! This workshop teaches how to find and capture these moments. This requires more than just learning the technical and compositional aspects (however this is taught in depth) it also requires stepping out of your comfort zone and getting over fears.
The workshop is small. 24 students total and, unbelievable, but there are actually more people on staff!!! And by people I mean some of THE BEST photojournalists in the world. Big names. Small egos. It is amazing. Every photographer there – students and staff – is on the exact same page, regardless of skill level or where they may be on their career path. Everyone comes with open hearts, open minds, and with so much support and knowledge to share. Our team leaders and mentors, especially, were there for us 100%. We got their full care, love, and undivided attention for the whole week. Ah! Amazing.
For the “work” part of the workshop we all signed up to be on a team of 6 students, 1 team leader, 2 mentors, and 1 assistant. My team leader was Huy Nguyen, the founder of Foundation Workshop, and my mentors Jan Garcia and Sergio. These guys were THE reasons I signed up for this workshop. I’d seen them in action a few times and I loved their teaching styles. My photo assignment was to cover the Fort Worth Rodeo. Funny… I took the workshop because I felt my pictures needed “more cowbell!” Well this is where I got it. I ran around those rodeo grounds shooting my heart out, having great conversations, and truly just falling in love with the people there AND their cows. Day one I felt like I did pretty darn good. Until….. the critiques. Your team leaders/mentors give you feedback on every. single. photo. They get to see through your eyes, essentially see how you think, and then give you tips on how to do it BETTER! This is an extremely enlightening and extremely overwhelming process. I felt like there was SO MUCH I needed to work on… So much I was missing. But that’s why I went!! In my life and in my photography I will always push for better. For me, better = more aware. I will always strive to be more aware of my surroundings, of the feelings of others, and of myself. And I will always strive to make pictures that tell an authentic story.
We are allowed to show only two images from our photo assignments. I am proud of this shot because it represents me getting over myself and out of my own way in order to be great. I was slightly apprehensive about asking somebody if I could climb on top of their very high cattle trailer. But anything for the shot right!?! The friendly Texan folks were happy to help. Up I went! It felt good knowing I had gotten myself up there because I really, really wanted that shot. It was a very big deal to me to get the unique perspective and I wasn’t afraid to go for it.
This photo is very symbolic for me. It represents dedication and heart… And LEARNING! It’s proof that the advice from my mentors was starting to sink in. For this photo I was running on two hours of sleep. The critiques went super late the night before and I didn’t get to bed until 3am. You can call it tenacity or obsession, but I was so determined to DO BETTER the next day. I wanted to start off the day getting a really special shot and I knew this meant being there when the sun came up. So I took a little two hour nap, woke up very tired but determined and drove the hour to Fort Worth. I was rewarded big time. There was this AMAZING fog!!! And the sunrise was so beautiful shining through it. I saw this boy coming towards me – with his sleepy, puffy eyes – pulling his heavy steer down the path. I knew exactly how he must be feeling cause I was feeling it too. In my head I heard all my lessons… “Find an interesting angle, clean up your backgrounds, square up to your subject, expose for the highlights, stay with the shot, and keep shooting until you are given THE MOMENT!” Okay I can do this… I ran up far ahead of him and laid on my stomach right in the middle of his path. I let him get as close as I possibly could before I had to get up or be run over. I knew I had it. I got that feeling you get when you know you nailed it. This shot completely energized me and I felt like I had earned it.
My new Foundation Family!!! You inspire me on every level and now you’re permanently embedded in my heart. And especially my team!!! Love you ALL!