This is a guest blog by Providence, Rhode Island-based documentary wedding photographer, Stacey Doyle. She documents weddings & families focused mainly in the New England area, though always willing to pack a bag & travel far and wide. Besides photography she really enjoys the art of sewing, specifically deconstructing older pieces and making them new again. If you don’t find her behind her camera or sewing machine, you may find her perusing used book stores, thrift stores or at a local brewery surrounded by friends.
I was supposed to go to the Foundation Conference, held in Kansas City, this year. Circumstances at home prevented me from making the trip. When I came to know Stacey was going to be there, I lost no time in recruiting her to report back on her experiences at the conference. What you will read below are her impressions.
Walking into Foundation Conference 2, I was welcomed by friends. By hugs. By smiles. Open hearts & minds. An ego free zone.
From the speakers, to those coming along for a shot of inspiration, everyone there seemed to have a common thread, they see not only with their skillful eyes yet also with their hearts. They tell their stories using their individual visions fueled with their excitement to share, their ability to listen softly, their desire to infuse passion.
I heard Still Motion speak about how, a mere year ago they were creating images that were just good enough. They were pretty. But something was lacking. Something was missing. Something wasn’t being said.
Inspired from last years Foundation Conference they decided to change all that. They now immerse themselves into their couples lives, they learn more about who they are, what they are about, what is really meaningful to them. They spend their time documenting what will speak to the true story of their couple, instead of focusing on details that mean nothing in the end. Even if that means skipping the makeup application in order to photograph a couple’s beloved pups enjoying a morning swim. It’s the images that truly matter, that’s their goal. In the end they encouraged everyone to examine where you are right now and then ask yourself ‘Where do you want to be in one year?’
‘Suck less everyday’
DQ have always made me smile. They are a rich and giving couple, in their teachings, in their energy, in their commitment to the photography world. Dave and Quinn are one of the first people to run up and give you a warm genuine hug. Their excitement over showing you how to bring light into a scene to layer and transform a rather dull atmosphere into a whole different world is infectious! What I really adore is each time I’ve heard them speak, they both seem to glow when they talk about the other’s abilities. Not ‘oh darn, Quinn one upped me’ but ‘Heck yea did you see what she did?! So proud of her!’. Their motto that day was ‘Suck less everyday’, which I quickly retweeted! However I really loved their son, Tobi’s, quote ‘Making little moments go a long way’.
I found JVS‘s work years ago online and was floored. I couldn’t believe someone could walk into a wedding and find images like that. His lighting skills are outstanding. I recently took his off camera flash workshop in Boston. I remember during his teaching that knowledge is important however what really stood out was if you are going to do something, don’t half ass it. Do it right. His talk at the Foundation Conference was more introspective. He went through his life in pictures and in stories. He spoke of the moments that changed the way he viewed the photographic world he was in. He talked of the stories that had an impact, not only on his career but his heart. He spoke of being true to himself, his vision, the life he really wanted to be living, the work he really wanted to be producing. What shined through again was if you are going to do something do not go half way. Put your all into it. Don’t be lukewarm about your approach. Mean it. And if you don’t, maybe you need to examine what it is you really want to be doing in your life.
They wanted to create a playground where the mind-blowingly awesome photographers in their area could safely come together and, well, play!
The Wed Rockers are a group of established photographers from Mexico. They were looking for community, they were looking to help bring others with a similar desire to share and create, together. They wanted to create a playground where the mind-blowingly awesome photographers in their area could safely come together and, well, play! Their passion flowed out of them like warm sunshine. I was grinning the minute they started their talk and laughing and smiling and tearing up with them at the end. I believe they accomplished what it was they were trying to create: community. And they brought that feeling of sharing & encouragement to the hearts of all those that were there in that room listening that morning. Their talk made my heart swell, it made me want to share anything that I know with anyone that asks. Do you want to know what the secret ingredient is? Nothing. So do not be afraid to share. It’s in the sharing where you will find your true self, your true vision.
It’s hard for me to use just words to describe Anna Kuperberg‘s work, because when I see her pieces, all I can do is feel. Words may fail me, but my emotions do not. I respond within. I think it has a lot to do with her approach. Her talk during Foundation Conference spoke of being more childlike. Trying to tap into that long lost creative being we once were, until it was schooled, questioned, hushed out of us. And that’s not an easy thing to do for some of us. I think ‘won’t I look like a fool’ but then I remember the little girl that I was flying down the street on my bike, not caring who or what saw me, just that I could fly (on two wheels, of course). I didn’t care who heard me make-believing in the back yard with my Barbies and Strawberry Shortcake dolls. A whole magical world existed in my mind and I didn’t feel like a fool, because it was fun. I didn’t care enough about others opinions to not care about what felt good. I just played and I played well. And I believe that’s what I took from Anna’s talk; who cares if you mess up or screw up. It doesn’t matter! Get back to caring about playing, playing well.
I had not heard of Candice C. Cusic nor seen her work before Foundation Conference. I am so glad I was there to experience her world, her approach and her imagery. Her emotional way of shooting, her steady courageous way of waiting it out until she knows she has what she wants. Her bold patience really struck me. Again, it’s the idea of being overly concerned about what others are thinking of you as you work and allowing that to dilute your imagery. Don’t let the thoughts of others get in your way. And don’t read this wrong, Candace isn’t being disrespectful of her subjects, no way! She calmly waits it out, where others might think ‘ok i’m probably bothering them so i should stop now’, she’s asking you ‘who says?’ Don’t ever assume you know what people will or will not let you photograph. Be patient, be bold, don’t forget to tap into your heart, and then let go and shoot.
The local Kansas City contingent, Lemon & Lime, rounded out the talks. They spoke of their approach, creating one of a kind imagery, using their distinct vision to capture the story of their couples. How a fluke meeting a few years ago brought Neal & Eric together, and since then they have been able to immerse themselves in their creative process, in their couple’s lives and in their business together. What struck me most was the way they talked about working with one another. How this collaboration has become so important to them both. The emotion that carried their words was heartfelt and true. I didn’t feel as though they were talking just about a business, but a family they created. Once their talk was complete, I saw the other local photographers from Kansas City gather around them at the back of the room, each in turn hugging them both, congratulating them. Not doing this because they wanted those around them to know they ‘knew’ them. This was real. There was a camaraderie there that I can only hope and pray others are blessed with.
And if you want to grow, the best thing you can do for yourself is get your butt in the hot seat. Now.
You may think of the Foundation Workshop Forum as just another photography forum. But that is so very far from the truth. It is a collection of brightly colored, vibrant, rich photographers threaded together with their deep desire to share with those around them who are equally passionate about the work they create. It isn’t just a bunch of gear geeks talking numbers. These people are full of heart, they pay attention, they care. There is safety in knowing you are not going to get squashed by some self absorbed personality. However if you ask for a critique of your work, don’t expect to be embraced warmly while they sugar coat their words. These people love what they do, they respect the art form far too much to give you a simple pat on the back. And if you want to grow, the best thing you can do for yourself is get your butt in the hot seat. Now. But let me assure you, having sat in that seat quite a few times, you will find no cruelty there. You will find not a single drop of snark. No one is there simply to beat anyone up. It is because they care, that they want to see you grow. They want to see you break free from the negative thoughts that anchor you. They want to see you soar.
Forums can most certainly be intimidating. However, you will find with the Foundation Workshop Forum group, that intimidation quickly melts away, as you are welcomed in by the warm generous souls that make up this great family.