So this week, I spent some time sucking in knowledge, inspiration and impulses from creative souls at the first huge european photo conference in Europe.
Besides from being surprised by how fun a photo booth actually can be at a party (a first-timer here), I also got a huge dose of guidance and reaffirming push towards where I should be heading with my photography.
As a creative, we all struggle with finding our voice, staying inspired and finding our why’s. Insecurities, comparisons and not feeling adequate. Moreover, the balance between life and art has been a challenge that I face on a daily basis. The guilt that I over and over suppress with the reasoning that I want my son to have a role model that can show him that it’s ok to dream, chase your dream and even fail at your dreams if that be the case. And I still firmly believe in that. That being said, I still really need to free up more time and make my own memories and moments to capture. This conference has given me great ideas of the things I need to implement to make that happen. I owe it to them. I owe it to myself. How ironic that a conference where you have to be away from your family, brings you even more closer to your family.
It would be an understatement to say that this conference had a heart to our chest listening to what we sought after. We were moved, entertained and educated. We were shocked, shaken around and woken up abruptly (literally too) with subtle messages of love, life and stories. There wasn’t so much technical material, but it wasn’t needed here as the heart is the main compass and lightmeter of photography as cheesy as that may sound. You must be passionate, have the visual storytelling ability and a good eye to compositions and the rest will follow. You must be a lover of light and seeker of it. You must be an emotional soul. To be able to recognize and capture emotion, one can not be a cold and heartless person. That’s why a huge room with 500 souls was filled with tears; ladies as well as gents. I feel so privileged, how weird it must sound, to be a part of a soft, mushy audience. I felt home.
These last years has been years of discovery for me. Finding myself again. What I was then at my deepest in my younger years, is the complete opposite. Photography has allowed me to be nostalgic. Be that person who loved to write poem, who hated to blend in and conform and mediocrity. I moved into normality in Norway. A fresh beginning where no one can really identify to my past. Little by little, that part of me was fading. So photography became my refuge and that little part of me that escapes to my past, allowing me to be the person I was. When I feel like losing myself and losing my identity, I get lost in my photography and find myself again.
Being creative is like a refill to my soul. My life with my family is rich, but it’s familiar. And I need the fearful with the familiar. It’s the balancing point. It fills my cup of life.
So I will continue this, and not just continue this photographic journey, but also enhance and improve it.
Fer Juaristi kickstarted it all. He was fun to listen to, and the images he presented had so much impact. Beautiful use of light and white space. Creative way of telling stories through photos, and even with a dose of humor. His untraditional imagery is refreshing as well as his grounded and fun personality. I have loved his work since I discovered it, but getting a glimpse of his personality, made me love it even more. And the same rings true for the other speakers. I appreciated them even more after hearing them talk.
And we shouldn’t take for granted that they are so generous to share of themselves. Not only for their practices that has brought them to where they are, but also intimate parts of their lives. I sit here with a lump in my throat looking back at how they choked up by the mere mention of family.
James Moes also gave a lot of himself. I love the questions he asked us. I love how his love for design shows in the aesthetic of his images.
Nessa Kissinger with her funny analogies, showed us the light, literally. Even making it sound enticing to wake up early in the morning to catch some glorious light. And educating clients. Something that I have already been doing, but needs to elevate that game even further.
Kat Williams from Rock’n’Roll Bride gave some insightful tips in blogging. This blogpost 5 months after the last one is definitely a sign that I needed to be pushed and get some great tips to make the blogging worthwhile.
Ed Peers touched on the topic of destination weddings. I loved both the practical tips as well as the more deeper thoughts of traveling and photography. More importantly how family must be in the center of your decisions in handling destination weddings.
Samm Blake ended day 1. I took a lot of notes, because she had a lot of wise and profound things to say. She was firm on what she liked and did not like. And a letter she shared, brought me in tears. She is an artist in the truest sense of the word. Love her journey.
Day 2 was not to be outdone. Andria’s spunky personality was consistent with her customer care. This was definitely a topic that she lived and breathe. She definitely woke us up in the wee early hours. So incredibly smart and funny. You’ll fall in love with her.
Ben & Erin was amazing. In a short amount of time, they shared a sea of information. They inspired and educated. They are brilliant and so passionate in what they do. And there were tears…again.
Jasmine was next on stage. I know the things she is passionate with as I have heard her in several occasions before and I even have her Exposed publication. Though there is something about her presence and drive that is contagious that is more raw when your a live audience. She also had som really great pointers during the Q&A.
And brilliant Jonas with his beautiful work and even more beautiful stories, made us all tear up. It brought us back to the essentials. Tell the story through your photographs. Listen. Tell.
There’s so much more I have learnt and I won’t share every tidbit here, but there were some red thread through it all. Connections with your customers, colleagues and most importantly your family. Finding meaning in what you do. Find some heroes. Study your heroes. Compositions. Practice, practice, practice. Be honest and true to yourself.
The lineup of speakers were varied and had different visual styles. Their business practices and processes were also different. In the end though, one can conclude that we are all different, and it IS ok. There’s no wrong and right of doing things, but go with what feels right for you.
It also gave us the permission to try and err. To try to change paths. We have become so safe in what we do. We have to challenge ourselves and go out of our comfort zone. Dare to be different. Dare to stand out.
I also got assurance of the things that I am doing right that gives an added boost and a pat in the shoulder in our very lonely environment.
My spirit is rejuvenated. My bloodstream is pulsating with new vigor.
What does the future hold for me and how much change am I going to apply after listening to one great talk after the other. Plenty.
I have to find a way to make this venture sustainable in every sense of the word. See how it fits with the rest of my life. Reevaluate my goals and priorities.
I need to have a deep conversation with myself on why I do this and why I should continue doing this. And based from that, shape my practices.
More specifically, there will be more outsourcing, there will be focus on family and health, go out and shoot and practice much more. Curate my work more intensely. Focus on stories, albums and slideshows. Educate some more. Slow down. Always be intentional. Simplify. Focus on getting the best light. Be more critical. Find uniqueness. Not settling. Hunt. Be more patient and anticipate. Do more personal work. And of course have fun in the process.
Some visuals and expression of gratitude
So I believe a blogpost always need images. For this trip I decided to leave behind the camera and it was liberating. Although at times, the beautiful light got me tingling and itching.
These are from last years visit to Stockholm that I never got to post.
This post summarizes my epic adventure that I shared collectively with 500 peers. It’s far from the end of it though. The journey just begun.
Thanks to Nordica’s Cole and Jakob for getting this from dreams, to paper to real life. The whole event went smooth and every minute was worthwhile.
Thanks to all the wonderful speakers with all your brilliant minds and visions. Wish I could have thanked you all personally. I hope you realize how much impact you have made and thanks for being so generous in sharing your life and beautiful photographs. So much talent and so much rawness and honesty. No BS! You and all the participants are the part of the industry that makes me proud to be a photographer. I love the community that shares, encourages and view each other as colleagues and friends, rather than competition. Cheers to new friends and old friends. Till we meet again, many adventures richer.