It’s funny how an experience that was once terrifying is now liberating.
In 2009, I made an investment in a photography workshop that, truthfully, changed my business. It altered my vision. Maybe I already had the spark in me and the workshop ignited it, but it was a really special experience. I realize this more 5 years later. The decision to go the workshop was a difficult one. Of course, I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. Did I mention the workshop was in Italy? There were a lot of ways I could’ve spent a few thousand dollars as a relatively new business owner (just two years in at this point).
But, for whatever reason (can’t really recall now), I decided to go. The workshop was hosted by one of the leaders in the photography industry, Jose Villa. If you’re a photographer, you’ve definitely seen his work. If you’re a bride or groom, you’ve probably seen his work and can appreciate the beauty and draw inspiration for your own wedding. It’s like SMP over on Jose’s blog! Jose is pretty much like the Justin Timberlake of the photography industry (I really had to sit and think of a superstar that could accurately be paralleled to Jose. This was the best I could do! Jose is famous in the industry, but he’s not a passing trend. His talent is undeniable. His work is classic and always beautiful, ethereal, and inspirational.) But, beyond all that, Jose is a really giving person who has probably impacted the lives and businesses of many. He’s humble and a great guy (as I like to imagine JT is!) and I believe he gives his workshops his all.
At the workshop in Italy, Jose surprised the attendees with a day trip to Florence to explore and take photos. You can read more about that here. The catch was that we could only bring one camera and one lens. Though now I always travel utilizing this method (I’m talking strictly personal trips, of course), when Jose first presented this challenge, it was terrifying. It was the terrifying experience I was referring to in the opening line of this blog post. I decided to embrace it and bring a film camera that I received at the workshop. I could’ve brought my fancy new MkII. At the time, I was shooting ALL digital. I didn’t have much experience with film and I only had three rolls at my disposal. But I took a chance. And fell in love with film. I think I subconsciously knew before the workshop that I wanted to shoot film (why else would I spend thousands of dollars on a workshop hosted by a film shooter?!), but the workshop sealed the deal for me. I slowly started introducing film into my work, but after the workshop I saw a drastic change in my digital work too.
Now I shoot primarily film, and I love it because it forces me to slow down and enjoy the process. I actually enjoy waiting for images to be processed. It seems simpler. I’m all about slowing down and simplifying (in all areas of my life and business). So film seems fitting. I love the way skin looks on film. I love the colors. I love the latitude. Each artist has their own preferences and film just speaks to me. Everything looks prettier on film.
This blog post isn’t an endorsement for film. It’s not an argument for film vs. digital. It’s not an endorsement for attending Jose’s workshop, or attending workshops in general (though I do endorse attending Jose’s workshop, for the record!). It’s just about taking a chance, finding your passion. Having fun and enjoying the process. I never shared these first film images I took in Florence that day. These images are captured on a Holga. The memories from this day are really important to me. I was with a group of people that I had only known for 3 or 4 days, but together we ventured to Florence. Little did I know that these people would still be very much in my life 5 years later.