Sometimes your creative well just runs dry. I think everyone feels that way at times, but for a working photographer chasing the elusive creative spark can feel like herding squirrels. Ideas run wild, but sometimes they are just beyond your grasp. And at times, the ideas just aren’t there.
I had been feeling this way after the rush of fall family portraits. And in Dallas, the weather is nice right through Christmas, so I had a long stretch where I just felt a little off when I put my camera to my eye. The spark was a little dimmer and it felt discouraging. In the past I have done things like try a new lens (effective although quite costly), “push” through it (sometimes works, sometimes backfires), take a break (has never worked for me), and learned a new “genre” of photography (as it turns out I am obsessed with night photography). Occasionally I have also sought continuing education opportunities, which is what I decided to do this fall.
When looking for a photographer mentor to learn from there is much to consider – What aspect of their photography do you admire? What is the time and money commitment? How will their talent/skills better yours? At the exact time I was asking myself these questions, I happened to see that Michele Anderson of Pinkletoes was offering her highly coveted weekend workshop in Austin, TX. For years I have admired her view of the world, business savvy, and technical knowledge.
I didn’t think twice. I hit “pay” before asking my husband, securing childcare, or even double checking my calendar. I don’t recommend doing that, but it ended up panning out for me quite nicely. Hubby said “good for you!” Grandparents said “yay, we will spoil them with toys & sugar and then happily return them.” Even my calendar had a blank spot (which is crazy as I regularly book sessions 6-9 months in advance).
The stars aligned and in February I drove down to Austin to meet six of the sweetest, most open, and genuine photographers you could ever dream up.
Before I dive into the weekend, I would like to introduce this group to you. Here we are taking a go pro selfie (it’s like a 10 second video, so give it a watch). Please notice our highly technical skills. The amazing use of light and hotspots. The flattering expressions. Clearly, we are professionals who know our stuff.
Over the course of the weekend we watched Michele photograph an in-home newborn session and an outdoor family session. As a bonus she even took our head shots. Watching her in action….. I suddenly felt like herding squirrels WAS possible. Her effortless style and creative vision was truly inspiring. We were able to take our new skills and inspiration to use when photographing several maternity models.
But probably my favorite aspect of the workshop was her business and marketing advice. She doesn’t hold back. Michele openly talked about everything from money, to brand, to marketing…. every aspect of being a photography business owner.
Being in her home was the icing on the cake. Seeing her own family photographs in every nook and cranny of their unique home was inspiring in and of itself. She graciously let us pour over her family albums…. she doesn’t know it yet but I shall be coming on their next family adventure (Missy Mayo-Anderson has a nice ring, yes?). Photography is so tightly woven into the cozy comfort of her home that you instantly feel the simultaneous love of her craft and family in warm embrace.
Here are a handful of photographs from the weekend. It was amazing and now I am in post-workshop hangover. Soooooo much information and never enough time to digest. It’s a good problem to have – much better than catching those squirrels.
Be sure to check out Michele’s post at Austin Family Photographer.