I recently returned from a weeklong stint teaching at the Audubon Camp of Maine on Hog Island. This particular week was for educators of all kinds, both formal and informal to immerse themselves in nature, expand their knowledge of natural history and get new curricular ideas to improve their own practice. I was part of a team of instructors that included some top-notch biologists, environmental educators and an amazing artist illustrator from Colorado. Educators from all over the country came to participate in this amazing program. Aside from providing inspiration and practical skills one of the program’s goals was to provide childlike experiences for adults. We hiked, took a boat out to Eastern Egg Rock to see puffins, photographed, birded, botanized, nature journaled, swam, explored a bog, sang, ate, swapped stories, and laughed like hell. It truly was camp for adults, and it rocked!
Last month I had the pleasure of presenting at the CAPA Conference in Fredericton, NB, which was another amazing experience. You can read more about that in my previous post entitled “Do The Work!” What do these two experiences share in common? Simple, they both filled my proverbial cup with inspiration, motivation, energy, excitement and a general enthusiasm for my craft, and more specifically sharing my craft with others.
One thing that became abundantly clear during these experiences is the fact that as much as we can connect with each other and be inspired from our online digital lives, it’s the in person analog sharing and interacting that really fulfills our need to connect. At least it does for me, and I suspect many of you as well. I believe at our core we are a tribal species and there simply is no substitute for being face to face with groups of like minded people sharing and experiencing the world together, in real time.
Chase Jarvis eloquently writes in his blog about the cycle all of us as artists are engaged in; Shoot, Share, Sustain. I think most of us are pretty good at accomplishing the first two stages but it’s the final stage, and perhaps most important for living a creative life, that is difficult or elusive for many. I think most of us assume that receiving some financial payout for our work is enough to sustain the craft. But as a professional photographer I can attest that cash doesn’t go the full mile for me to sustain the creative life. It allows me to pay the mortgage but it certainly doesn’t fill my cup. It’s the experiences I have in the field and then sharing those images and stories with other people that helps keep me fired up to pursue the muse.
No matter where you are on the photographic continuum, you’ve got something worth sharing with the world. So here is a short list of possible ways to interact with your tribe. It can be scary, but try a couple and I’ll bet you’ll feel more energized and excited about your craft than ever before!
1) Host a slideshow at your local library. You can make it about a recent trip somewhere or perhaps an intro to digital landscape photography. You’ve got more skills than you give yourself credit for trust me.
2) Do an exhibition and host an opening reception and artist discussion.
3) Join a photo club. Don’t have one in your area? Start one!
4) Take a workshop. This is a great way to not only learn new skills but also get tons of inspiration from the instructor and other participants.
5) Go to a conference. It’s an awesome way to meet new people and gain new skills.
If you’ve got some others please feel free to share them in the comments below.
“Hog Island Dreaming,” Maine Coast Canon 5DIII, 17mm f11 @ 1.3 sec ISO 50