A little over a year ago, I saw my longtime creative/entrepreneurial crush Whitney Chamberlin speak at an intense wedding photography conference in Las Vegas. I spent the whole week sitting in classes hearing extremely talented, seasoned, successful photographers explain their path and impart advice. Some of it was good - great even - and I still keep meaning to make that email list so I can send out fun newsletters and stay in better touch with clients (I used to run an AOL 'zine, after all, so that should come pretty naturally to me). But a lot of what I heard just didn't vibe with the kind of creative professional I see myself as. I am not a shark, I'm just someone who really enjoys immersing myself in other peoples' worlds for a little while, to document the moments - the powerful promises, the quiet smiles, the dancing.
Anyway. I've been following Our Labor Of Love since 2008 - I'm pretty sure seeing their work was my first glimpse into a wedding world full of courage and creativity, and fun. And I've watched Whitney's projects grow and I've watched him become an industry Leader with a capital L. And sitting in an audience of fifty in a weird ass conference room in Las Vegas, hearing him talk about his work and his life; past, present and future, unapologetically honestly, made it clear to me: he's still in it because of love. He loves his people, he loves watching them grow, he loves lighting a match, he loves giving as much as he can. And that? That resonated with me.
So when Whitney's Field Trip came around this year, I decided it was worth spending the money for a long weekend away with a bunch of other creatives, in the safety of nature, with a couple of friends. I thought for sure I was going to go in one thing and come out another, supported by my brigade of brand new, uber-talented, immensely strange friends.
But that didn't happen. Instead, I found myself reveling in my own solitude. I delivered a wedding. I walked. I caught up on sleep. I did a little dancing, of course, but I also ate cookies in bed with one of my favorite people in the world. We listened to music from our safari tent across the path, fell asleep to the pulse of the baseline.
I met a beautiful new friend from Germany and talked with her about life and love over cereal. I attended some profound classes and had some meaningful chats over breakfast. I watched one of my favorite artists pour his soul on stage from fifteen feet away. I played with a pixel stick! I shared the premise for my personal project out loud in front of 60 people, which means I also admitted something about my brain that I haven't shared with most of my closest friends. I was afraid, and then I wasn't.
Field Trip didn't change me. It didn't shift my work or my worldview, it didn't blow my heart open any wider than it already is, and I didn't return to LA with a thick tribe of new photographer friends.
But it did give me a space to rest; then to remember how important that is. To the creative process, to my relationships, to my soul.
And oh! I watched the sun set against the ocean every night. That, alone, was enough.