Just a week ago (really, is that all?) I repacked my suitcase, checked out of the hotel, and got in my car to drive home from Portland, Maine. I’d been there for three days, soaking in creativity and smiles and tears and surrounded by 200 or so fabulous photographers. I sighed and leaned back in my seat, feeling a little stronger, a little braver and very much fuller than when I had arrived. It seems to me that these various retreats and workshops that I’ve gone to over the years have come into my life just when I need them most…when I am starting to feel empty and lost and stuck. John asked me why I was going to this one, what I was hoping the get out of it. He’d asked me many times, and I’d never had the words for it until the night before I left. “I’m going to feed my soul,” I said through tears.
So I walked into my first workshop of Inspire, after driving 3 hours with a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel through the pounding snow (but, hey, I’m a New Englander again. These things don’t bother me!), feeling a little nervous and pretty alone in a sea of folks who all seemed to already know each other. Cig Harvey floated in, and I remembered the details of the class I had signed up for. I was going to have to write, about me and the things that were at my core. This is my biggest fear. But do you know what she said? Can you believe this? She said YOU HAVE TO FEED YOUR SOUL! Within 2 hours of arriving, I had heard exactly what I needed to hear. She was speaking my language. These were my people.
I took one photo there. Of my hat, and the Inspire badge, because my mind was once again BLOWN when I realized that I had bought myself a hat that matched my badge PERFECTLY. It’s the little things…
The next two days were full of equally awesome conversations and presentations: Jennifer Thoreson and her amazing, mind-blowing thesis project that I would have loved to have seen in person. Her ideas for photographing women and the beautiful images that she creates; Anne Almasy and her ability to write like a photograph…rich, and raw and full of emotion and imagery; Jane Ammon and her amazing ability to bring kids out in her photographs so that you look and say, “Ah, there you are.” These are just the folks that I had the pleasure of sitting and listening to. The interactions that I had with other people over the three days, people so friendly and warm and willing to just let you open up to them and do the same in turn to you, and the images that I saw throughout the time, and knowing that I am not alone in any of this…we are all struggling and winning and falling and getting back up together…was, well, inspiring.
I’m not sure how this experience will effect my work. I’m sure it will show itself here and there. But now that I’m home and have had a week to think about it and process all that I’ve taken from it, I am realizing that I didn’t go there to change my work or influence my business. For the first time in a long time, I went and did something just for me. Not me as a businesswoman. Not me as a wedding or portrait photographer. Not me as a mom, or a wife. Just for me…as an artist and a person who needed to feed her soul.
Thanks to the amazing Inspire community! I can’t wait for next year…I’ll come a little braver, a little more sure, and ready to dance. I swear.