I recently attended Foundation First (FF), a photojournalism workshop in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve been home for several weeks now, and I’m still processing the whole experience. On paper, the workshop looks like this:
Day 1: Lessons
Day 2: Shooting Day at the Forth Worth Stock Show and Rodeo
Day 3: Photo Critique
In reality, though, it was so much more. It was spending three amazing days with thirteen other students trying to soak up all the knowledge that our mentors could offer, and three days of our mentors trying to drown us in all the knowledge they possibly could. It was learning how to “see the light,” how to use continuous focus, how to express love in your photographs, how to be patient and wait for a moment to happen. It was being brave enough to show my crappy images to my peers, so we could all learn how they could have been better photos. It was cheering for another student when he displayed an incredible, portfolio-worthy photo. It was exhilarating, embarrassing, exhausting and energizing. It was turning strangers into family. It was amazing, and I loved every minute of it.
I know, know. This description is a bit vague, a bit esoteric. So, I'll try to describe one learning moment of many that I had during FF, and hopefully it may give some insight into my entire experience.
On Shooting Day, we were assigned take photos of children getting their livestock ready for competition. After the first couple of hours of shooting, I hit a pretty low point. I was cold, wet, and frustrated that I wasn’t getting great images (I may have even broken down and sobbed a bit). It was during this time that one of my mentors Jan Garcia came over to talk to me about my progress. He asked to see my photos (I cringed!). After reviewing my images, he gave me this piece of advice:
"Stop seeing what your eyes see, and start seeing what your camera sees."
In other words, even though the rest of the world may see a scene like this:
I needed to start seeing the world like this:
The photos are so crazy different, right?! These photos made me "see the light." My entire weekend was made up of similar but equally enlightening "A-HA!" moments. It was wonderful :)
If you want an in-depth description of the FF experience then I highly encourage you to check out the blogs of my fellow peers Rob, Bridget, Juan Carlos, Melissa, Shelly, Katie, and Jennifer. They are able to convey the entire experience better that I can - trust me, I know, because I’ve been trying to write this damn blog entry for the last several weeks!
A big thank you to all of my FF mentors and staff: Huy, Tyler, Joe, Craig, Kelly, Sherry, Gulnara, Sergio, Candice, Jan, and McKenzie. Every single one of you passed on some bit of knowledge to me, whether it was advice in photography, or just being inspired by the way you have chosen to life your life and pursue your work. I'm honored and grateful to have learned from you.