“Photography is now clearly a language. As with any language, knowing how to spell and write a grammatically correct sentence is, of course, necessary. But, more importantly, today’s emerging photographers now must be visual wordsmiths with either a clear didactic or an esoteric imperitive. Be a poet, not a technical writer.” – David Allen Harvey
When it comes to my photography, I’ve invested in a lot, but never towards any “official” training. I’m completely self-taught and have happily researched, practiced and learned from within my own comfort zone. I always shoot from the heart and up until this point, I was totally fine with that. But year after year, I’d think about the Foundation Workshop – an opportunity to further improve my skills under the guidance of some of the world’s top photojournalists. I’d always thought about registering for it, but I kept questioning the expense … do I really need it? Will I get anything in return for my investment? I’m fully booked, our clients are happy, and I have a blast every time I shoot, so why invest on a “foundation” when I feel that I’ve already built one?
This year, the stars aligned and I finally attended.
It’s taken me a couple of weeks to settle back into a routine and let everything that I took away really sink in. The one thing I will tell you is that it doesn’t matter how new or experienced you are as a photographer, the Foundation Workshop is simply amazing. My incredible mentors, Ben Chrisman + Joseph Joseph Victor Stefanchik (JVS), taught me so much, including how to slow down, to “STFU” and be patient. To look for good light, good compositions, wait for the moment and shoot from the heart. To go for the gold and avoid “good enough” by making images that people feel and don’t expect. From the head to the heart, somehow, in just a matter of days, they dissected me, rewired my brain and sent me off with a completely revised way of thinking and seeing the world. And I’ve never been more excited to pick up my camera. And I’m so excited for our very own Jenn Nauss, who’s up next and will be heading to Texas for the 2016 Foundation Workshop. I’m really looking forward to not only hearing about her experience, but seeing how it changes her poetry.
Thanks to my amazing team and new friends, the staff and my entire Foundation family for a truly unforgettable experience … one that has made me an even stronger photographer and better person. If you’re curious about the process, it’s best summed up here. Photos by Ben Chrisman, JVS, Dexter Lo, along with two selects that I’m able to share from my heart warming Foundation assignment.
Written by Jeff Cooke.