Wow (!!) is truly the only word that comes to mind that best describes the past few days of the Roots Workshop.
This is where we are staying for the duration, Churchill Farm in South Yarmouth.
The farmhouse houses most the bedrooms and Greg's team editing room.
The guest cottage and bunk house, where Arn and his team are staying, quickly dubbed the Arnie Shack.
Our gorgeous little private paradise.
J and I arrived on Cape early Sunday morning to hit the grocery store (three carts later, we finally had the fridges-there are 5!- stocked with breakfast eats, munchies, coffee essentials, and of course, beer). Mentors Tyler and Jenn arrived first, and helped situate the students as they rolled in, helping each choose a bedroom and settle in for the evening. Each student received a pail with Cape Cod treats and workshop information on their arrival (a sweet play on the overnight guest bags often seen at the weddings we photograph).
We spent the early evening getting to know one another on the back deck as J played grill master and treated us all to some yummy burgers and dogs and other summer favorites like cole slaw, watermelon and make-your-own sundaes.
Later, we moved into the main house for some brief presentations on how to better prepare for the week (by me), a general Q & A (by Tyler) and the history of photojournalism (by Greg). Late night, the teams separated to have a more focused chat on individual strengths and weaknesses, and goals for the week. And then the staff reassembled to divvy up the assignments to the student whose self-described needs best matched each assignment.
After going to bed after 2a, things got rolling very early Monday morning with several students leaving for their assignments before the sun was up (lobster men start their day at 5a, as does the homemade ice cream production at a landmark Cape Cod ice cream shoppe). Students departed the rest of the morning in staggered patterns, first filling up on bacon & eggs & shared anxieties with those who gathered to fuel up for breakfast.
Mentors spent the entire day driving the length of the Cape to pay visits to students at their assignments... summer camp, a wildlife animal rehabilitation facility, classic baseball game, historic P-town lighthouse, and even a nudist campground (where the student was only allowed if he participated... something we knew in advance and had to carefully handpick a student who might be up for this sort of experience. The student, Eric, was immediately enthusiastic about the opportunity and has been doing an amazing job!).
Like in the morning, students rolled back to the house in stages and the out loud critiques began with each team. This is an excruciating process for those who have never had someone else look at their work, frame by frame, and dissect every choice you made as a photographer in capturing those images. There weren't any tears, but there were many "aha" moments as students- sometimes not even those whose work was displayed on the screen- increased their knowledge of composition, lighting, lens choice, exposure and when exactly to release the shutter to capture the best moment. It was intense! And again, a late night. One group didn't end until after 4a.
(A daytime editing session:)
The process will repeat itself again tonight and then tomorrow, before assembling a final edit for slideshow and newspaper mock design on Thursday. It's challenging to operate on so little sleep, but the energy of the group is contagious and I really think everyone is gaining more than they imagined from the experience already. I know I am!
J is here as a participant and is doing so well! He has an assignment to cover a lighthouse keeper's house that is available for families to rent during the summer. Tonight, he's going the extra mile and staying overnight with the family to get a sunrise image tomorrow. Tyler snapped this sweet image of me (on the phone checking in with one of the mentors) as J heads out this morning.
More soon! Now that everything is flowing smoothly I can concentrate more on taking lots of images of our retreat experience.