Originally meant to post on August 13th, 2014….
I’m writing this late, and I’ve had an emotional evening so maybe it’s not utterly the best time to write anything anywhere BUT I’m going to blow my horn for a moment. And in a moment…
I am at the end of Day 2 of being in the studio audience at creativeLIVE for Family Photography: Modern Storytelling with Kirsten Lewis (who I will have to say more about soon) and I have to say it has been an amazing course. Exploring the art and business of documentary-style family photography and learning from the best there is, from Kirsten Lewis has really got my ‘creative cogs’ turning. For some time now I have wanted to do sessions that are more lifestyle and documentary than posed, including ‘End of Days’ sessions for companion animals, and for families with pets included. This current course totally bookends the other Creative Live course I took part in, ‘Animal Photography with Rachael Hale McKenna’, along with my extensive pet photography work, and the style of shooting is just me. I’m at a crossroads with my business and so much more so I’m excited.
But my big deal today was winning 1st PLACE in the creativeLIVE Instagram challenge contest for Day 1 and I am thrilled. Stoked. Honored.
The challenge was this: Make a portrait of a stranger. You must take the time to talk to them, connect with them. Get to know them and share their story. This is to challenge your fear and reinforce how just taking the time to connect will gain you access and trust. Don’t forget about finding good light.
Well here’s the story and photo I posted. I received such overwhelmingly great feedback on Facebook and Instagram about it that I am genuinely touched and honored. Please feel free to leave any comments and feedback here – it’s utterly inspiring to hear from people!
I feel like I hit #kirstenoncreativelive1 contest gold this evening. When I heard we had a CL Instagram challenge: great. When I saw that it was to introduce myself to a stranger to get their portrait and ask them their story: yikes. I’ve always wanted to do such a thing but honestly never had the gumption. But I couldn’t have been happier that I did. While at the farmers market with my boy, eating freshly-made quesadillas and ice cream, this street musician with a kind face and one of those boots on for a hurt foot, played his guitar, and I finally got myself up to talk to him. Within seconds of me talking, he asked if I’m English (which I am), immediately recognizing my accent and from then on he couldn’t hold himself back on sharing his story. In his own muddled English/American accent, he told me his name is Joel Fleming, “but really I’m a ‘Davis’, of Welsh descent”, and he turns 60 this year. His military father had moved their family to England when he was a teenager and he spent the early 70’s there, a time that impacted him greatly. He told me fond tales of going to the summer solstice festival at Stonehenge with his friends. About meeting numerous musicians he admired (still to this day) at concerts. About hanging out at Hyde Park in London, and calling into a radio station and getting to say hello to John Lennon. He talked with fondness about the country that I love and miss myself, and how desperately he wishes he could visit again and find a way to stay there. Joel wanted a portrait of himself holding his new Stetson hat that he had saved $230 for, something he was obviously proud of. He showed me where in his jacket he’d hide his money so it wouldn’t fall out and also explained to my inquiring son about why he had the protective boot on: he’d had the tip of his big toe removed because of diabetes. He bared so much of himself to me with his stories, his openness, and probably spoke for half an hour or so. I don’t know if he’s homeless and I’m not sure that it matters, but I feel like many pass people like Joel by and never give a second thought to that person. He just wanted to share and for that I’m grateful.
I hope you enjoyed this post, the workshop (if you saw it) and I am excited to see where my new inspiration leads me. I’ll be back on here soon!