A few months ago, after saving up my pennies for almost 2 years, I had the privilege of attending the highly acclaimed Foundation Workshop, which was held this year (its 9th) in Austin, TX. For those of you who have never heard of FW, it is basically an intense, week-long photojournalism workshop geared towards wedding photographers where you shoot nothing wedding-related. The goal here is not to help you with marketing, branding, mission statements, pricing, etc. No staged weddings or professional models. All the faculty and staff (I think the staff-to-student ratio was about 1:1 — practically unheard of in the photography workshop industry these days) have the singular goal of helping the students improve their craft by honing their photojournalism skills.
(The awesome photo up at the top of this post was shot by the even more awesome Ryan C. Jones. Thanks buddy!)
The week started off with some classroom instruction from some of the top photojournalists in the industry: Brett Butterstein, Tyler Wirken and Brooks Whittington. Later that evening, we broke off into our teams to do some team exercises and receive our individual assignments. (My team was led by the highly accomplished David Murray, with mentors Becca Spears of Wirken Photography, and Ray Soemarsono and Erwin Darmali of Apertura Photography.)
The individual assignments and subsequent critiques were the meat and potatoes of the workshop. Each student received an assignment (hand-picked by the faculty) to shoot on their own out in the field. Team leaders and/or mentors visited the students in the field to check on progress, answer any questions, and give guidance if necessary. The teams would assemble in the editing suites for long critique sessions whose importance cannot be overstated. The whole point is to go out, work your butt off, come back and get beat up in critique, then pick yourself up and go back at it the next day. Rinse, repeat.
My assignment was Angeli Carriages, a horse carriage service in Austin. I was to find a story within the context of the carriage service and tell it through my photographs. Those that know me know that I don’t deal well with animals due to some childhood run-ins! Also, apparently horse carriage services don’t get tons of action on weeknights in February when it’s snowing — who’dathunkit? 😉 But really, the point was to push through all the unexpected challenges and make meaningful images. I’d love to share a bunch of images, but I agree with the organizers of the workshop who have requested that we limit it to 3 images, so as to not color the perceptions of the workshop experience for any future students.
Here are some of the images I’m most proud of:
And just for fun, here’s one of the portraits my good friend and teammate Britney Gardner shot of me during our team exercise.
There’s so much more to say about the workshop, but only so many words and so much space. Other people have done a much better job of documenting it here and here. Suffice it to say that I am extremely excited and humbled at the same time to have been asked to be part of the staff next year for FW10! If you are a wedding photographer who wants to take your game to the next level, this is a workshop you won’t want to miss. Get more info here, or if you have questions about it, feel free to drop me a line.