PhotoMusers. Photo by Q.
Santa came a little early for me this holiday season. I had the incredible gift to get to spend a week in November completely immersing myself in photography. I attended the Photographic Muse: Austin workshop put on by three incredible folks: documentary photographers Lynn Johnson and Penny De Los Santos, and fine art photographer and consultant Scott Martin.
As an art director in my day job, I've spent some time working with and hiring photographers for assignments. But this workshop put me behind the camera and on the receiving end of the critiques. Very intimidating. Even more so, because my fellow workshop attendees were so talented. I definitely felt like the least experienced, but I knew that also meant that I would grow, grow, grow. And I did. (And I got some well-deserved ribbing for being the "art director" in the group and got busted for unconsciously shooting photos that were composed like magazine covers.)
This is what happens when photographers try to take photos of photographers. Photo by Q.
Our days went something like this: we'd meet up in the mornings for some strategizing, then head off in our separate directions to spend the day shooting. We'd reconvene in the late afternoon, in a fabulous space in Hyde Park, for dinner, lectures, critiques and sharing our images. The next day, we'd do it all again. It was intense, overwhelming, energizing and exhilarating.
What I didn't realize was that this would be a double-layered experience. I spent a week practicing seeing, shooting, getting valuable feedback and most of all, improving my photography skills. But I also got to spend a week (and more, since I continued working on my project after the workshop wrapped), experiencing the world of Green Gate Farms, my subject. My eyes, my mind and my heart were cracked wide open. I was truly nourished by the PhotoMuse community that developed, Lynn, Penny and Scott's guidance, and the time spent on the farm.
In that week, and three more sessions afterwards, I shot almost 5,000 images! (As I get more experienced, I hope to get a lot more selective about what I shoot.) In the workshop, Scott did a convincing job of selling the attributes of LightRoom and now I'm hooked.
Below are some of the images. Green Gate farmers Skip Connett and Erin Flynn were incredibly generous to let me wander around the farm, while they and their volunteers worked and harvested. I could have spent months photographing all the little spaces, vignettes and textures in their barn alone, but the true heart of the farm is the people who keep it going. I could see that in my photos and feel it myself after the first day there. Skip and Erin have built a real community around their farm and I feel honored to have spent some time witnessing it.
Local farmers have faced not only the worst drought on record in Texas this past year, but have also had to persevere through the usual crazy Texas temperatures that can range from 14 degrees to 114. It is an extraordinary task and one that humbled me to get a glimpse of. Nourish yourself and your local community by supporting local farmers!
I must give a giant shout out and thank you to Skip, Erin, and Mary, and all the volunteers at Green Gate. And thank you, thank you, thank you to Scott, Lynn, Penny and all of the PhotoMusers. It's a treasure to be a part of this photographic community. I can't wait until we can do it again. (Links below to other PhotoMusers and the group slideshow.)
Green Gate Farms...
Little Helping Hands volunteers...
Architecture for Humanity earthbag prototype shed being constructed at Green Gate.
Slow Food feast at Green Gate — where I planned to take photos of the fancy dinner, but found that the best images were of Skip and Erin's son, Ethan, up in the hayloft overlooking the festivities...
Photographers, if you get a chance to learn from Lynn, Penny or Scott, don't miss it. It looks like PhotoMuse 2012 is being planned for New York City.
Scott Martin, OnSight
Penny De Los Santos
Sign up for a Spring produce CSA or a hog CSA at Green Gate Farms
Danielle, Beyond the Plate
Crystal, Serendipity in the Kitchen
Pauline, The Kitchen Press
Jay and Janet — don't have a web sites, but you can see their work, along with everyone else's in this group slideshow that Scott put together.
Stay tuned. Next up, Penny De Los Santos was kind enough to share with me her recipe for the black bean chili with chocolate and cinnamon that she made for us for dinner one night.