Self Expression and Other Lofty Endeavors
Now that the tsunami of HATCH Asheville has hit and receded, I am reflecting on the warp speed pace I’ve been living the past few months. Since my last post in April, I have spent a dreamy week in Paris, taught my first beginning photography weekend workshop in Cashiers, refinanced my house, thrown a party for 150 people, shot two books, and gotten married. No rest for the weary! I realize that I seem to thrive on having many balls in the air at once, but maybe I’ve pushed it a bit this time. I have two weeks to get ready for my annual week at Rancho La Puerta where I will be teaching some beginning photography classes, but I will also be allowed time to enjoy quiet, the smells of sage and thyme along the paths, dessert mountain hikes, delicious healthy food, swimming in the black bottom pool, and my favorite activity there – going between the ice cold plunge pool and the hot tub. That is truly an exhilarating experience.
The classes I teach on photographing people in nature, “digital 101″ and the demo sesssions come easily to me – I’m talking about what I know. It’s the nighttime presentation that stretches me each year – “Self Expression Through Photography”, and every year I feel compelled to re-create it, sometimes from scratch. Maybe, I’m thinking, it’s because with every passing year my life changes, evolves in one or many ways, so my ideas change and make me feel that what was true last year isn’t true this year. So here I am again, trying to decide how I think other photographers express themselves through their photography, but then I’m forced to ask myself the same question.
I can’t say I have the answers yet. I have, however, had the privilege to spend time with two amazing photographers that were gracious enough to share themselves with some “groundbreakers” (up and coming photographers) and a few other lucky people, including myself, and they have added to the self expression stories I plan to tell. Sylvia Plachy and Gerald Slota came all the way to Asheville from New York for HATCH, and I was able to spend time with them both – they couldn’t be much more different (I encourage you to look at their websites) – Sylvia is a photo journalist with an impeccable talent for catching not just “the” moment, but oh so many of them. Gerald, a fine art photographer, makes sketches of the scenarios he wants to act out, using his little wrapped in a baggie point and shoot camera simply as a vehicle to capture the intricate and sometimes wicked scenes in his head.
To tell the truth, while I was inspired by these immensely talented photographers, I was also discouraged, as I just don’t measure up. I wandered Paris the following week after HATCH looking for those shots that I was sure Sylvia would have seen that were eluding me. I was thinking of the advice Gerald had given me to leave my big fancy camera at home and just use a small camera, to really focus on the image and leave the technology behind. I couldn’t do it! Neither one – leaving the big camera, nor finding the clever moments. UGGGGH.
Where’s the happy ending to this photo story? That life keeps happening and I keep shooting. I’m no Sylvia Plachy nor Gerald Slota but I have my good moments, and some good ideas, and hopefully I won’t stop looking for those moments. Gerald said that I really lit up when I was talking to him about how much fun I had working with stop motion, and he was encouraging me to begin a new project with stop motion. So, that is the plan….
Now back to the self expression presentation preparation – where’s my muse?
Here is a photo of Sylvia, Gerald, the groundbreakers (Matt Brown, Ashley Florence, Alex Palmour and Liz Wells) with Brie Castell, my co-chair for Hatch Photography. It was a great experience – if you missed it, make plans to be at HATCH next year. And here is a shot of my wedding taken by my friend, Dot Griffith.