On Saturday, I attended a photography workshop run by Photography Farm. It look place at Ridge Farm near Dorking; the perfect location for a group of photographers to get together and inspire each other.
Photography Farm is awesome, in the very literal sense of the word. It inspired awe and invoked terror in me in equal proportions, although the terror subsided after a chat around the kitchen table with Emma Gutteridge (thanks for listening to me ramble like a complete groupie and for laughing politely!). Lisa has put so much into creating a network of amazing photographers who not only love what they do and completely rock at it, but are generous enough to share their knowledge and experiences.
The 16th century farmhouse was used as a recording studio until the early 2000s, and played host to some musical heavyweights. I don't know if it was the history of the farmhouse, or the dizzying heights to which I have elevated the photographers that I admire so much, or my greatly over romanticised imagination, but being at Photography Farm felt like creeping around an old MGM studio, haunted by the ghosts of Golden Era movie stars.
Lucille Ball offered my a cup of tea (thanks Lisa), Audrey Hepburn stoked the fire (Best Farm Elf ever, Alexa!), Clarke Gable said hello to me (Hi, Adam), Lauren Bacall was milling around in the background wearing an eye catching flower in her hair (Tigz, the flower was so pretty), Cary Grant was hanging around looking moody and desperately handsome (Tavis, it's a good look!) and Marilyn Monroe oozed all the charm and charisma I had expected (Brooke, you are lovelier than I could ever have imagined).
So...once the giddiness had subsided (slightly), it was time to get down to business. I had booked a place on Brooke's 'Find your Voice' workshop, partly because I am looking to focus closely on my style this year and ensure that my images capture what I am trying to portray; Brooke has such a distinctive style which I identify with, but mainly because I have a total photographer crush on her and had to meet her whilst she was over in England.
Brooke is awesome (literally). She is warm, engaging, a huge ball of energy and ridiculously talented. As a fellow lover of black & white images and raw emotion, Brooke's images speak to me on a very personal level and it was fascinating to hear her talk about the way in which she captures such emotion from the people she photographs.
The thing I love most about Brooke's images is the way they capture such natural expressions and I have spent so long wondering how she is able to capture a pose which does not look like it is posed in any way. A large portion of the day was taken up with a shoot; Brooke had arranged for one of her couples to come along and model for us and we got the chance to see Brooke in action. As soon as she started shooting, it hit me like a thunderbolt. The reactions/emotions captured in Brooke's images are not static, generic or insincere; they are genuine reactions to Brooke and the way she interacts with her clients to make them trust her, relax and let their guard down. If somebody is laughing, they are laughing at Brooke acting like a goofball; if somebody is crying, they are crying because Brooke has asked them to imagine what it would be like if this was the last time they saw their partner for 2 years. It is genuine emotion, which Brooke engineers by baring her heart and soul to her clients, and is a direct reflection of what she is feeling. This is such a gift and is something that cannot be taught. Awesome.
Brooke was a breath of fresh air and I came away from the workshop feeling inspired and invigorated. The fire in my stomach had been ignited again and I was buzzing with energy. Amongst many others, the thing I have taken away from Brooke's workshop is the importance of confidence; do what you love and make no apologies for it.
Thank you so much to Brooke and the other photographers who took part in the workshop, and to all the house elves for making us feel so welcome. Lisa has created something very special in Photography Farm and I am very much looking forward to my next visit.
We had the opportunity to photograph the lovely Adri and Jerard and here are a few of my favourites from the day.