I’m a big fan of learning, in fact I think sometimes I could spend every extra minute I have and every spare penny I earn just investing in my education as a professional photographer. Sometimes–this can aggravate certain people (hello babe!), but honestly it is just a part of who I am. I seek knowledge no matter the subject and ESPECIALLY for those subjects I feel the most passion. I joke with my friends that I collect random useless information so that one day someone might ask THAT question and I will be the person with the answer! In my quest to fill my brain with knowledge I have found that I sometimes tend to OVERthink things and this has come to be one of my biggest personal issues as a photographer; aiming to please instead of aiming to simply create.
It was in an effort to get to the core of this “issue”, and really, to get to the core of myself that I reached out to someone I admired for her own sense of self, for being what I thought at the time, and now KNOW an authentic person through her art. It took me about 5 rewrites and 25 deep breaths to send that initial email. And you know what? Once I sent that email, once I stepped a teeny tiny bit outside of my “stranger” comfort zone it felt like a weight was lifted (and I hadn’t even heard from her yet).
Kate of Kate Densmore Photography emailed me back so quickly, and she was so wonderful. You see, I heard about her upcoming workshop for In Beauty & Chaos, but it was a few months away so I was wondering if she had any other forms of mentoring, or if she thought that her workshop would even be a match for me (if I was good enough, truthfully…the overthinking and self-doubt is STRONG with this one). We emailed back and forth for a bit, with Kate helping me to decide what it was that was bothering me about my work. Because her workshop was 3 months away at that point and I am not known for my patience, I jumped at the first chance to have a portfolio review by Kate. This was not like any other portfolio review though…one where I send her 20 images and she picks them apart based on established rules and norms. Her review was the exact opposite, it was an uplifting experience. It was a voice review, she called it. She intended to look through my work and decipher what (if any) recurring themes jumped out at her, and what my specific voice was in this world. I was certain that she would come back for our Skype session and tell me that my whole portfolio was one big shot in the dark. Needless to say, I was wrong and Kate was inspiring and friendly and fun to talk to. It was the start of a new friendship!
Kate is gifted at reading images and bodies of work and interpreting the creators unique perspective and intent. Her workshop Voice & Visual Intent for In Beauty & Chaos is a natural extension of her strengths in these areas. I was lucky enough to enroll in the first run and I was blown away. First of all, the weekly lessons were presented in BEAUTIFUL pdf documents, suitable to print and bind. Each week we explored, discussed and created based on a different intent, while still adhering to our unique voice and vision. Although the “rules” were discussed, I never felt bound by them. We were encouraged to shoot each day with the camera we had on us (dSLR or iPhone), and to be thoughtful and cognizant of our specific intent when creating our images. This was groundbreaking. And difficult, lol. I never realized how much of a reactive shooter I am until taking this workshop and trying to be the exact opposite. The difference, however, was that Kate wasn’t trying to make us into a different artist. She was making us aware of our natural tendencies and encouraging us to step outside our little comfortable world in order to grow. Never once did anyone harp on the rules or the colors of an image. It was understood that we, as the creator, had intended it that way for a reason…and figuring out those reasons was SO MUCH FUN. I learned just as much from the materials as I did engaging in conversation about our images and the artist’s intent vs. viewer perception. I’m not one to go on about a workshop just because I’ve taken it…if that was the case I’d spend all my time reviewing things!!!
I walked away from Voice & Visual Intent feeling like my art meant something. That I am the only one of me in this whole world and that nobody else can see things the same way. 2014 has and will be a better year because of Kate and her encouragement of my specific brand of art 🙂
A few images from the workshop: