I have been waiting to write this blog post for awhile. It is hard to express in words how Parker’s workshop affected me. I walked away from this workshop changed. I still don’t feel quite the same. It has been weeks. I have tried to explain to several people how it was and what I learned but I can’t really explain it. It definitely was life altering and I still don’t even know all the ways that it was. I think it was definitely exactly what I needed at that moment in my life and I would honestly love to go again.
How it began. A few years back I was attending WPPI in Las Vegas and wandered into a class by a man named Parker Pfister that I had never heard of before. I thought the topic sounded interesting so I went. I was immediately thrilled to be there. He was unlike any photographer I had seen or watched before. He shared a slideshow of his work from the last year or so that he hadn’t shared with the world yet. His work was unlike anyone elses that I have seen. I was brought to tears and couldn’t stop them from flowing the whole time. It was so amazing to see photographs created from somebody with little to no influence from anyone else. They were coming from inside of him. He was marching to the beat of his own drum. From that moment I knew I walked into something amazing. I told myself I would take his workshop as soon as possible. I wanted to learn how to express more depth and emotion in my photographs and I knew he was the one that could teach me. The next year, unfortunately the dates did not work and I couldn’t go. So, I took his class again at WPPI and my desire to learn from him was reinforced again. Soon after, he released the details for a 2017 workshop in August and I called that day to sign up. The workshop was titled “Do The Work: A Photography Workshop for The Soul”.
I knew when I signed up for the workshop that I was going to be stepping way way outside my comfort zone. That has been a goal of mine, but I had no idea how far outside of my comfort zone it would take me. I am a super shy introverted person. I have an extremely difficult time speaking in front of groups and being vulnerable with others. I push myself all the time and put myself in uncomfortable situations to grow and learn. However, I had a feeling this would be the hardest thing and I was right.
A week prior to leaving for the workshop, I find out that my dad who lives in Costa Rica, was admitted to the hospital for heart issues. Me and my dad are super close. He raised me and it was mostly just me and him until I was 18 when he moved away to help me grow up. So, this news was devastating to me. He remained in the hospital until I had already arrived in North Carolina for this workshop. He was released on the first day of the workshop, but he is not by any means out of the woods, and it was pretty earth shattering for me to find out that he wont be around as long as I had thought. This whole situation had me in a super emotional state of mind. I definitely think it had an impact on me at the workshop and made things more difficult. So while I would have been an emotional mess anyways, this whole thing with my dad made it even worse. I only bring this up to explain the fragile state of mind I was in. I definitely think it had an impact on my whole experience and made me a little bit more emotional.
The workshop was held in a magnificent mansion in the blue mountains of Jefferson North Carolina. The drive up the mountain was surreal with fog all around and a scene I can only describe as a lush land for faries. Green blanketed the ground and trees and it was unlike anything I have ever seen. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of it! My new friend Chrystal and I drove up together from Charlotte. We entered the house to a group of welcoming new friends with drinks ready to go. There were about 15 of us there. 9 attendees, 2 spouses of attendees, 2 people shooting behind the scenes photo and video and general helping out, the hair stylist/makeup artist/stylist, our beautiful model, Joe the giver of hugs and emotional support and overall awesome guy, and Parker. We all stayed together in the same house for 3 nights and about 3 days.
We started our mornings at 9am with breakfast all together and ended our days around midnight or later. We all gathered around the dinner table each night for dinner. We were all together most of the time. We had various homework assignments prior to coming. Each day had several challenges and topics. I don’t want to go into too much detail or give anything away in case somebody wants to take the workshop. I think it is better to not be prepared and just give yourself over to the process.
These photos above are pretty much the only photos that I actually shot. This workshop wasn’t about getting a bunch of portfolio worthy images. It was about learning to stretch ourselves creatively. It was about thinking in a different way. It was about learning to tell a story with our images. We had many challenges and most of them didn’t include having a camera anywhere nearby. We talked, we cried, we played, we grew, we learned. I learned a few fun tricks and am ready to experiment and tell more stories with my photographs. What I learned the most had nothing really to do with taking pictures though. I learned so much about myself. I learned that so many of the things I am scared of, really aren’t that scary once you do them. But it can be super fricken hard to do them. I learned that we are all so much more alike then we know. We all share so many of the same fears and struggles. We also share much of the same things that bring us joy and happiness. In the end, learning and knowing all of this also makes you a better and more aware photographer.
I heard recently that Courage is not the lack of fear, it is the management of fear. Courageous people are those that are scared and do have fear but decide to do the thing anyways. Usually I let fear stop me from doing so many things, I am glad I didn’t let it keep me from this.
Parker is one of the most amazing humans I have ever met and I feel so fortunate to have learned from him and spent time with him. The rest of the group was also an amazing group of people and I am so happy to know them and have experienced this with them.
Artemas, with Artemas Photography, filmed a video during the workshop and you can view that below.