For anyone who has been to the Foundation Workshop they know that writing down their thoughts about how the entire experience is perhaps one of the most daunting tasks that you will face. How do you explain what happens to someone outside of this crazy little world that that exists within this tiny little town in the middle of Texas? What can you say that may help them understand the mystique that surrounds this fraternal bond that exists within the confines of that Holiday Inn Express?
This being my second time around, you would think that I had it all figured out, or at least had a better understanding on what to expect. Keyword here being “expect”. Step one. I went in without any expectations. I did that the first time around at FW12b and repeated it on my second time at FW13. So at least I got that part right. What I did wrong was that I holding things inside that I was feeling and had not confronted them, but that would soon change. I went into FW13 with not really knowing why I went back and it was extremely frustrating to me. I was blessed in my team placement by landing with Sergio Lopez and Erwin Darmali (Team Serwin). These two pushed me. They pushed to the point of breaking down and allowing me to acknowledge my truths. Acknowledge things that I felt deeply regarding my photographic success and how I wanted my work to wow people and win awards. It all sounds very much as a “me, me, me” thing, but as a photographer I wanted to be respected and have my work validated by my peers. When you are surrounded by the best photographers in the world you want your work to be at par with theirs…My ego was getting the best of me.
Listen and Learn
When I was at the Foundation Workshop 12b (FW12b) I left with a new set of eyes. I learned how to see the world differently. I literally started looking at everything and seeing highlights, shadows, reflections, different tones. My memory cards became canvases for me to create my stories while using my camera. A whole new world became visible to me that had been in front of me my entire life. That I can credit to Daniel Aguilar and by letting me embrace the beauty of darkness in images while filling them with just the correct amount of light. Foundation Workshop 13 (FW13) taught me the most important lesson that I have ever learned photographically and in my personal life. The fact that I am a terrible listener. Sergio and Erwin caught this early on and pushed me hard. They challenged me to a level that I will be forever thankful. I am still working on my listening skills, as the Foundation experience never ends…its simply the building blocks to becoming a better person which ultimately turns you into an even better photographer. How so you may be asking? Well it works this way. Your right index finger can press the shutter a thousand times, but if its not connected to your heart how can you every feel something when trying to make an image? The point here is if you listen, and I mean really listen, you will be surprised as to what you have been missing for so long.
My assignment this time around really challenged me in terms of listening. I was placed in the loving home of the Garner’s. The family was composed of Kelly (dad), Stephanie (mom) and daughters Kayle and Emma. Emma reminded me so much of my own daughter Alexa, so this was emotionally difficult for me because I was missing home, so my mind was all over the place on my first day of shooting. I was having trouble focusing on one thing to shoot throughout the day. My mind wanted to cover everything. It wasn’t till Sergio and Erwin came that things changed. As I mentioned before, they broke me down so that my mind would be completely free of the truths that I needed to release from deep down inside. So for the first time in a long time, I was forced to listen. I listened to Sergio and Erwin. I really listened. Once I went back into that house, its as my heart had completely opened and all I needed was to stay really quiet and absorb this family’s energy and let the story unfold. I don’t want to go too deep into my assignment, as I hope the two images below can tell the story. What I can say is that, this family saved my photography.
So before I wrap this up I have to thank a couple of people. First off, Brett Butterstein. Thank you for guiding me to Foundation, I wouldn’t be the photographer I am today if it wasn’t for these experiences. To my teachers Sergio and Erwin for helping me fight these inner demons that where holding me back. To my motley crew…Derrick, Tara, and Heidi thank you for allowing me to learn to listen. To my daughter Alexa, the best gift that I even been blessed with. Thank you for making me smile since the moment I first laid eyes on you the day you were born. Lastly to my best friend, mother of my child, and smoking hot wife (Raysa) for allowing me to pursue and push towards my goals of living a photographers life. It can be crazy at times but its rewarding and I thank you for supporting me through this beautiful journey.