Shooting professionally, after being a photog school dropout, happened in a whirlwind sort of way. Everything that followed, both artistically and professionally seemed to follow that same rash path. I’m lucky that I’m lucky. If I weren’t, I would have most certainly felt the rash that comes with making rash decisions. Anyway, my business flourished and artistically I felt…, well, Meh, like something was missing.
My case of the ‘mehs’ made it pretty clear that some sort of action was needed because all signs pointed to Burn-Out City. And so began my search for that thing that could turn my frown upside down. The first place I looked was amazon.com.
I now have a bookcase shelf I call Amazon One-Click wonders.
Polaroid transfers? Yes-sum, that too, and the list goes on, and on.
All of these books are probably fine choices but what I would come to learn about my ‘mehs’ is that they were related to the fact that apart from my iPhone, I never picked up a camera for myself. I first learned this truth byway of the one book from my era of one-click buying that did not get shelved and put the proverbial match under me arse. That book was Film is Not Dead by Jonathan Canlas.
After reading the book a few times and using it as a resource guide to shooting film, I came to learn about the FIND workshops, hosted and taught by the author and photographer himself, Mr. Jonathan Canlas. This is the part where the match under me arse was replaced with a bonfire. I signed up and was on my way to attending the FIND workshop in Washington DC.
Why go to DC when you’re in Seattle? Well, that alone should lend credit to the amazingness of this workshop. Yes, it’s true attending the FIND workshop in DC was a stretch for me, both physically and mentally. I could have attended a FIND on the West Coast, but my friends Sandra Coan (also in Seattle) and Cat Thrasher (in Virginia) decided to go so I followed my friends off the bridge.
As with all things that require your hard-earned Benjamins, there is the period of second guessing your decision also known as ‘buyer’s remorse’. I did that and had that for a short while, but I also had trepidation because I am not at all a ‘group’ person. I love people, but something in my past life makes me fear groups of them, in this life. Organized anything just raises my fear flags and away I run.
Part of my fear of ‘organized’ and ‘group’, in the same sentence, is my mind’s association of what goes with ‘group’. Groups have dumb ‘ice-breaking’ activities or make you go around in a circle to share what profound moment brought you there. All of that that makes me hear the blood rushing through my red-hot ears. Thankfully the brain drama that played in my head was fictitious and very far from the reality.
When I arrived at the Über digs that would be our FIND command central for the next few days, I was welcomed by a group of people that appeared to be normal. They were normal and I now call them my friends. Each DC FIND, as are all FINDers, were fantastically cool, charming, funny, humble and kind. Oh, and they were also solid photogs. This goes for one Mr. Jonathan Canlas, too.
Here’s the deal about Jonathan Canlas: If I had a magazine, I would put him on the cover because he shares all of the character traits of my fellow FINDers, plus he’s an amazing business person, teacher and photographer. He really is the archetype of how those three motivations can co-exist under one head. So I guess what I’m saying is my magazine cover would say something like what I just said.
Jonathan’s workshop saved me from Burnt-Out City in large part because Jonathan is the photographer’s champion. He wants you to be happy, well-paid and also fulfilled. His belief that personal work is the key to that has been a life saver for me. As photographers we are so used to telling other people’s stories, but we need to also tell our own story. Kind of like the masseuse who needs a massage.
Fast forward a few weeks: The workshop is done and I’m back in Seattle, but the workshop just keeps on giving. Here’s why:
I’m now a part of the larger group of FINDers, which encompasses all of the people who have ever attended the workshop, and I’m happy to report that my organized-group fear flag has not been raised in any way. Associating with and being a part of this amazing group of people has been so beneficial. From talk of film stocks, to technical issues, to sharing amazing professional and personal work, this group is solid one.
I now also have a smaller group of FIND friends from my own workshop, and although they are on the other side of the country, we communicate daily and I’m positive we will see each other many many times in the years to come.
My photos from the workshop were developed and scanned by TheFindLAB and so I feel like the workshop has given me a support network that is in tune with the whole process of shooting film.
So, the moral of my story is this: Investing in your art and your story begins with attending a FIND workshop. Go Find yourself some FIND.
Below are some images from the workshop.
A collection of iPhone photos I took that week: