To find just the right words to tell you about my Foundation Workshop experience is difficult for me. I talk a lot, yes, but have always struggled to say what I am truly feeling in my head and heart. To get the words out and express the actual way I felt is not easy for me. So I am going to do my best! Five years ago when I started my own business I never thought I would be where I am today as a photographer or a person. I started off not truly having the self esteem to believe in myself the way I should have. As I met other Photographers at conferences etc… I found new strengths and desires to be the best I could be doing what I love, that being photographing the world and the happiness in it! I took my first Foundation Workshop in Austin, Texas two years ago and it changed EVERYTHING for me. I had the help of truly great people who also happen to be kick #*! photographers. My Team Leaders were Huy Nguyen, Amy Deputy, Ben Chrisman, Erin Chrisman and Jennifer Domenick. Yes I know WOW right, to have all that talent in one room helping guide me to be a better photographer who could ask for more. Then you throw in five other truly wonderful team mates who are now friends for life and you leave as a completely different person and photographer. A much happier one at that!
Fast forward two years and I knew I still needed to work on some things (as I always will) one being pushing myself out of my comfort zone. A very important one for me. So that I did by signing up as the first non Spanish speaking Foundation Mexico Student,. GO BIG or GO HOME isn’t that what they say! I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I was the first time I took the Workshop even though I was going to a country that I did not speak the language. I knew that everyone involved would make it nothing but a positive experience. My “comfort zone” was tested before I even arrived at the Workshop when my flight to Queretaro from Mexico City was cancelled with no options presented to me to fix the “problem”. Thank goodness I had a Facebook friend who mentioned taking a bus to Queretaro from the airport so I asked about that and the agent I dealt with took me right to the bus terminal with a smile on his face and made sure I got a ticket to get where I needed to go. I did not even get nervous at all which is VERY unlike me. After that I knew everything else would be perfect! And it was! I took my three hour bus ride and figured out how to ask for a taxi to my hotel and arrived to a city full of love and friendly people! It was the start of a life changing week!
We did not have assigned Team Leaders ahead of time so we could choose who we would like to have. This is not easy when you have some of the greatest Photojournalism and Wedding Photographers to choose from. I chose Brett Butterstein and Erin Chrisman. In my eyes I have always admired their work and knew I would learn so much from them. They were the perfect complement to one another. Brett was very calming and truly pushed me hard when I needed it. Erin so very kind and inspirational. Both being so easy to listen to when they explained what you were doing right and wrong.
I thought I would end up with some sort of assignment that would have emotion for sure. I did not! I think I got exactly what I needed though. I was to photograph the Alpha Omega Gymnasio (Gym) and the people that trained there. I was nervous that I would not find a story at first but then discovered that there is always a story to be told. Rodolfo was the personal trainer that allowed me to have this assignment. He worked so hard and to see his passion in helping everyone be the best they could be was so wonderful to share in. It blew my mind how welcoming and genuinely sweet every person in there was. My lack of speaking spanish and my use of hand signals didn’t stop anyone from making me feel at home. They let me get in their faces with my camera as they sweat their butts off working hard to take good care of themselves. I don’t know if I would do that. My story ended up being more about how to see this Gym in an abstract way and that was a challenge that I needed especially since I am a pretty literal person. Here are a couple of my favorites to share.
Thank you Brett for pushing me to see beyond what was right in front of me! Photo below by Brett Butterstein.
I enjoyed every minute of my week at the Gym and at the workshop. I learned more than I could ever ask for and met some of the most amazing people ever between my new friends at the Gymnasio, the wonderful people of Queretaro with their extreme kindness, the talented workshop attendees and especially my team mates who I will treasure having in my life forever! I love you guys! My Team Photo below: Pamela Barron, Eduardo de la Peña, Erin Chrisman, Brett Butterstein, Me, Lorenia Johnson and Juan Luis Gutierrez a.k.a. Charro. An extra little thank you goes out to Lorenia for being my super fun roommate too!