I had the greatest time in Santa Fe and I wanted to write down a few of my thoughts.  I couldn't decide if I should post about it on my photography blog or my personal blog, but the truth is, this blog feels like home so I want to write about it here.  There's actually so much I have to say it's hard to organize my thoughts.

So I went to a Santa Fe Photographic workshop.  In short, Justin Hackworth lead me to the Santa Fe Workshops, Money fell out of the sky, Willie really encouraged me and my mom graciously came to watch the kids while Willie was at work.  The stars aligned and it actually happened.

The Santa Fe Photographic workshop rents space from a catholic retreat and convent.  The location is so pretty.  They have classrooms, a studio, a store, a digital lab, dorms, an eating hall, and nice open space all around with junipers and cacti.  I had my own room and a shared bathroom but no one else shared a bathroom with me so I had about 8 sinks and showers and toilets to myself.


My teacher was Sylvia Plachy and she's was so wonderful.  She is a long time photographer and a great teacher. Her work is beautiful.  She was funny and passionate and kind.  I'm amazed at how much attention and effort she put into looking through our pictures every day.

She's old fashioned as far as photography goes.  When speaking of digital cameras she calls them "toy" cameras or says things like a digital camera work almost as well as a real camera.  She didn't like to view our images on screen so every night we sent off film or digital files and waited to get everything back in the morning so we could look through them together.  She did spend some time in lightroom with me once when we were preparing our images for our slideshow.  She has been taking lightroom training and it was so interesting working on images with her.  She knew her quick keys and really had it down.  She mostly wanted to see the colors of the images toned down (desaturated) and burn down any bright white parts of a photo.  She views every image in black and white.  She's a huge fan of black and white and says color can distract from the story of the picture.

So the first day she went through a project we brought and helped us choose the best pictures and then helped us sequence them.  Then we tried to think of a project we could work on during the week.  I learned a lot by listening to her go through everyone's work.  She felt like the project I brought was too concrete.  She wanted to see me feeling more and not being so literal.  This  was hard for me and I wasn't quite sure how to do it.  Picking up a Holga and the medium format camera helped me approach my pictures differently.  The square frame and slowing down moved me in the right direction.



I made some great friends from our class.  I didn't know I would need a rental car so I bummed rides for the first few days before I got my own car.  This helped me make friends.  A few people stayed off campus, but the rest of us on campus usually ate with each other in the evenings and went out shooting together. I borrowed a twin lens reflex camera for one day.  I also shot with a Holga in addition to my 5D. We all ate breakfast together and lunch and most evenings dinner.  This might be a good place to mention that the food was so, so good. One evening a class mate from Santa Fe invited us all over to eat at her house.  Wow, her house was amazing.

Here are a few things I learned from this experience.  Fine art photography is not about how a picture looks but how it feels.  A beautiful print should be the goal of every great image.  Experiment with different cameras and lenses.  Let go.  Let yourself be drawn to what interests you and excites you.  Something that I really like about Sylvia's photography is she loves using movement, smoke, steam, fog, blur to create feeling in her photographs.  I need more training in editing and printing. I need to spend more time working on my personal projects and practice, practice, practice.

The workshop ended on Saturday at noon and I stayed at a hotel in Albuquerque because my flight left at 6am on Sunday. I spend most of the day editing images from Lacy and Ryan's wedding and overdosing on Friday Night Lights episodes. I ate lunch alone in the restaurant and ordered room service for dinner (I was busy watching Friday Night Lights). I also went for a run and skyped with the family.  Saturday is when I was really missing Willie and the kids. I finally had some down time and realized how lonely I am without my family.  I was so happy to be home to the guys I love.

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