It’s time for a Journey of Fascination

The course was inspirational and confidence building. It seems each of us have what is needed to be whatever our heart desires, we just needed a facilitator to draw it out.
— Find Your Eye Participant in 2012

It’s time for a new journey. A Journey of Fascination. I am adding a new course to the Find Your Eye series in early 2013, and you are invited to join the journey. The series begins with Starting the Journey from January 20-31, 2013, and then continues with the all-new Journey of Fascination from February 10 – March 9, 2013. Registration is open now.

The participant quote I’ve shared above really expresses what the Find Your Eye series is all about. It’s about building your confidence. It’s about inspiring you to be who you are in your photography. Finding your eye is no more complicated than that. Yet it’s still not easy, either. That’s why I’ve created these courses: to help you make the journey. The journey is your own, I just shine a light on the path in front of you, to help you move forward. And even if you are already moving along nicely, the courses accelerate your momentum.

My own journey has been an interesting one, filled with ups and downs, fears and joy, as those of you who regularly read my blog know. These courses come out of my own experiences. I find it interesting that I’ve added one per year… Journey of Recognition came out of 2010, Journey of Inspiration came out of 2011, and now Journey of Fascination has been born out of experiences in 2012. Each course is a different journey, taking you in a slightly different direction. I love how it doesn’t matter the order you take the courses, or if you are near the beginning of your own journey with photography or well under way, they always fit where you are.

I hope you will join me in January and February on this new journey. It’s exciting to be at the cusp of sharing something new. I’ve always thought there were more Find Your Eye courses to come and now is the right time for the next one.

I love this journey I am on. I love what I get to do in these courses, as a guide and a witness. I especially love that it makes a difference in the art and the lives of the people who join me. I’m excited to share a few other comments from participants in Find Your Eye courses this year, about their experience.

I love the interaction among the participants as well as from you, Kat. The assignments were challenging and pushed us to explore new purposes for taking photographs, but to also find meaning in them. [T]he level of interaction in this course is so much deeper and open than any other online courses I’ve completed.

I loved learning in a group, knowing there were others on the journey too and we could explore this passion for photography together. And my other favourite thing was having assignments which gave us plenty of direction but also opened up all kinds of creative possibilities.

I’ve done many classes and this one was the best, because it was a small group and because you, Kat, always give feedback and follow the group. It’s also unique, because it pushes you forward as a photographer.

[This course is unique because of] the great interaction around photo images. We all had a chance to learn from others because we paid attention to what everyone was doing not just on our individual work. It wasn’t only about feedback from you, Kat (which was very appreciated), but we seemed to get a lot out of feedback from everyone and you had an opportunity to react to some of the feedback, too. It was a group experience.

Whitstable Blues

Do you have people in your life who rub off on you when you are around them? I definitely do. I pick up a little bit of their happiness or enthusiasm when I’m around them. Whatever they have going on, I just can’t help but be swept up in their excitement. I’m continuing on to London today, sharing one final story of creative connection with a person who is like that for me: Kirstin McKee.

I’ve known Kirstin for a couple of years now. I first met her online through the Mortal Muses and we spent a weekend with her family in London while we were living in Italy. Since this trip back to England was all about connection, I was excited to reconnect with Kirstin. I stayed with her and her family for a couple of days between workshops. When she suggested we go to Whitstable, a little coastal town about an hour’s drive from London, I jumped on the chance. I’d never visited the English seaside! We lucked out with a gorgeously sunny day for our excursion.

Photo by Kirstin McKee

Kirstin is fun to be around because she is so full of enthusiasm for photography. Whatever she does, she does with gusto. She’s gotten into film the last year or so, and raves about it. It makes it hard for her to decide what cameras to bring though! On this day trip she carried four cameras: dSLR, 35mm film, Polaroid and iPhone. I was a-goggle with all of her camera bags! But it was fun to watch her choose between one camera or another, to hear why she would choose each one, and to see the outcome later.

Kirstin and her camera bags

We wandered along the shore and through the town, following our interest and whatever captured our eye. We spent a good long time at this house with the gorgeous blue shutters, which reminded both of us of Greece. She even had to run back later and photograph the window again, since her original Polaroid didn’t turn out quite right.

I look at her photographs, and I’m just in awe of what she does. And she is so humble about it too. She creates because she loves it, and follows her joy. What a great example for the rest of us.

Photos by Kirstin McKee

After wandering around for a while, photographing all manner of interesting things, we wrapped up our day with an amazing lunch at the Whitstable Oyster Company. There is nothing like a fantastic meal in a lovely setting to cap off your day.

The whole thing was so much fun. This is the best kind of photography excursion to me: Visiting a new place along with a friend who loves photography as much as I do. My photographs from this day are some of my favorite from the trip.

Photos, and Photo of Photos, by Kirstin McKee

Kirstin’s enthusiasm definitely rubbed off on me. While I haven’t quite caught her bug for film, I can appreciate what she sees in it. And after she saw me using my iPod Touch, she pretty much made sure I got onto Instagram while I was with her… and you all know what’s happened from there. A whole new world has opened up for me with mobile photography.

Kirstin posting to Instagram

Thanks Kirstin, for a lovely day, and for the enthusiasm you share with all you do. It was a wonderful reconnection and I already can’t wait for the next time. Where shall we visit next?

As I wrap up this series of posts, I am excited see how each of the creative connections I made on this trip string together into a story of influences. I can observe what I gained from each one and how they each are a little stepping stone on my creative journey. I would not be in the same place today without them. Thanks for joining me as I revisited my connections in England the last couple of weeks! I look forward to sharing more of my England photos over time.

Growing a Garden

Today it’s back to England, continuing my stories of creative connection. The day after my Hebden Bridge workshop I was able to gather with friends again for a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I had seen pictures of this place before, and it looked intriguing. How often do you see sculptures just randomly popping out of the bushes? Not very often. It’s a photographer’s dream, this kind of interesting juxtaposition.

On a rainy Sunday morning four of us met up in Hebden Bridge to drive out to the park: Me, Fiona, Hannah, and this time adding the lovely Helen Agarwal into the mix. Helen is another artist I met at the Do What You Love Retreat in 2011. She is a wonderful photographer with a lovely point of view on the world. I enjoy her dreamy style and her calm approach to life.

We were lucky enough to have a break in the weather as we arrived, so we wandered outside for a while. It was fun to see what caught our eye. There were all of these interesting sculptures, but I think we spent more time photographing the beautiful vines and interesting leaves.

Helen is another mobile photographer. Her dSLR had been broken for a while, so she was trying to figure out what to do about repairing or replacing it, using her camera phone in its place. It was fun to see how she worked with it! Another influence for me? Perhaps. Just seeing other photographers whose work I enjoy using different tools than my own is often enough to get me thinking.

The special exhibit at the park was Joan Miro. I haven’t always been a fan of his work, but seeing so much more of his paintings and sculptures, and reading about his life gave me a new perspective on him. I do love the bold colors and simple shapes he repeats in his work. We couldn’t take photographs of the inside exhibition, but I was able to photograph his outdoor sculptures. I always find it interesting to see an artist who works across many mediums, like painting and sculpture, because you can see their style come through regardless of medium.

He talked about how he works in this quote, posted on the wall:

I think of my studio as a vegetable garden. Here, there are artichokes. Over there, potatoes. The leaves have to be cut so the vegetables can grow. At a certain moment, you must prune. I work like a gardener or a wine grower. Everything takes time. My vocabulary of forms, for example, did not come to me all at once. It formulated itself almost in spite of me. Things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen. You have to graft. You have to water, as you do for lettuce. Things ripen in my mind. In addition, I always work on a great many things at once. And even in different areas: painting, etching, lithography, sculpture, ceramics.

Yes, things have to grow and ripen. Our ideas. Our art. Our connections and friendships as well. Perhaps my visit to England was a gardening trip, nurturing the connections I had planted while living in Italy. Coaxing them to grow a little further, to see how they might blossom in time.

Into the Light

We continue our Exploring with a Camera topic of Chiaroscuro this week, with a look at walking into the light. You can get some great strong light/dark contrast when you are indoors and look out into the light. In this situation, instead of having the subject illuminated against a dark background, the subject is dark against a light background.

This image was taken at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. After a while I was overwhelmed by the museum’s vast and varied collection, so I began wandering the museum looking more at the architecture than the artifacts. I stopped at an overlook above the main doors and photographed the movement of people in and out. There was an ebb and flow to the motion. It made me wonder where all of these people are coming from, and going to. I wondered where this woman was headed with such purpose. The strong light/dark contrast, the focus and her isolation from other elements highlights her as the subject.

How is your exploration of chiaroscuro going? Have you found examples in your archives? Have you experimented yet? Share your results with us here! The link up is open until November 30, so you have plenty of time to explore.

Medieval Connection

Today I’m continuing on with my stories of connection, this time from the medieval town of Shrewsbury. If you look at a map of England, Shrewsbury might seem a bit out of the way place for a stop between Yorkshire and London. However when your primary purpose for a trip is to meet people, then it all starts to make sense. I had someone to meet, so I was headed that way. And that someone was Gilly Walker.

Gilly and I have been in contact online for several years. I first ran into her on Flickr while I was in Italy, then we shared comments on blogs and for a short time we were both Mortal Muses together. I’ve always loved her photography, her thoughts and philosophy, and – bonus – she teaches photography too. We seemed to have much in common, so she was on my list of connections this trip to England. She’s recently moved north, not far from Liverpool, so we had a bit of a struggle to figure out the best way to meet. Should she come to London? Should we meet in the middle? Finally she just invited me to come stay at her house, and then we could visit Shrewsbury the next day. Perfect! She apologized that it was a two hour train ride, but I assured her, after traveling 12 hours to get to England, a two hour train ride was no problem. That’s why I was there!

So from Hebden Bridge it was off to Hooton, to stay the night with Gilly and her husband, and then on to Shrewsbury the next day together. All of the images in this post are from our day in Shrewsbury.

I have to admit, on the surface it seems a bit strange to visit and stay with someone you’ve never met face-to-face. Here Gilly was inviting me into her home, and I was staying there, without knowing more about each other than our photography and writing. But I’ve always found that when you meet and develop a relationship with someone online, one that is built over time and around a common interest, that relationship is real and your gut feel about a person is accurate. So while we were both a bit nervous to meet in person, I had a feeling it would go just fine. And it did! Better than fine, we talked non-stop and had a lovely visit.

I knew Gilly was knowledgeable about photography, but I hadn’t realized the depth of her study until I visited her home. Staying in her home office, I got to peruse her bookshelves which had an amazing array of books on photography and creativity. I was in heaven. She had many of the same books I had, but also many, many more I had never even heard about. It was exciting to hear about her creative journey and what has influenced her along the way. I wanted to know which books were her favorites, and why. (Since I knew you all would want to know too, I asked her to write a guest post sharing a few. Come back tomorrow to read her recommendations!)

The next morning we were off to Shrewsbury, known for its medieval architecture. The day started off partly sunny, transitioned to mostly cloudy and then the rains settled in. It was interesting to wander the tight alleyways and see the mix of timber-frame and brick buildings side by side. It is always shocking as an American to see buildings that have existed for such a long time. It’s hard to fathom. Our idea of “antique” is on a different scale. The mix of the modern and historic gave this city a wonderful visual feel.

I’ve found that when you spend some time with another photographer, you get to know more about them through what catches their eye. Their work makes more sense to you, because you see how their heart and soul comes through. Ask anyone who’s gone on a photowalk with me and they will tell you: If there is a scooter sighting I will stop, with enthusiasm, to capture it. For Gilly, she has a series called “Fallen Things” and she stopped often to capture things fallen on the ground. I couldn’t help but capture one or two as well, and here’s my homage to Gilly’s Fallen Things series.

As I write this I start to wonder, if you spend time learning about another photographer’s point of view, does that affect you too? Did the time with Gilly get me started with looking down on the ground? Did that influence my current mobile photography series, As They Fell? Probably. As I talked about yesterday, the time spend with another in creative connection influences us in ways we don’t always realize. Everything we see and everyone we connect with becomes input that informs our output. Choosing our connections is as important as choosing our input.

For me, Gilly is a great source of inspiration. I am grateful to have have this connection with her. Thank you, Gilly, for a lovely day!

Creative Connections

A month has slipped by since my England trip and I’ve barely written a word about it. I’ve barely looked at the images. I’ve moved on to one thing or another, my recent obsession taking up my brain space and creativity. And I need to spend some time on the trip to England, because it was a marker of sorts. A milestone with teaching my first in-person workshops, but a trip of creative connections too.

In fact, the creative connections are the reason I went in the first place. I had met so many lovely people in the UK, online and in person, that I felt drawn back. I wanted to renew these connections and deepen the friendships. The only way to do that is with time. So I plan to share a few stories here, of the people I connected with and the places we visited together. The things I learned from each of them.

First up, the Hebden Bridge crew: Fiona Pattison, Hannah Nunn and Rhiannon Connelly. I met all of these lovely ladies at the Do What You Love Retreat in May 2011. Fiona and Hannah both live in Hebden Bridge, and Rhiannon came to visit from Holland via Scotland. I spent most of my time in Hebden Bridge with them in some combination, and we took a walk together in the woods one morning of my visit. All of the photos in this post are from that lovely walk in the hills around Hebden Bridge.

Fiona was my host in Hebden Bridge, sharing her flat with me and my workshop. While I met Fiona at the retreat, I started working directly with her last fall on Public Relations. I was thinking she could help me get the word out on Kat Eye Studio, but it turned out she does so much more – business coaching and mentoring. Through our working together we have become great friends, so it was wonderful to deepen the connection in person, talking non-stop over a bottle of wine (or two!), great dinners and walks in the woods. She has so much wisdom and enthusiasm for living a creative life. She has a special gift; her art is helping creative people develop businesses that thrive. I have been lucky to be on the receiving end of her talents.

Hannah is an amazing artist, bringing beautiful light to the world. She creates handmade lamps with simple yet gorgeous flower motifs that cast beautiful and subtle light. She loves lighting of all kinds, so her shop, Radiance, showcases beautiful lights from different designers. Walking into her shop you just smile from the warmth of the lights. Or maybe it’s the warmth of Hannah! Being around her seems to bring a smile to my face and a sense of calm to my soul. It was so much fun to see more of her lamps in person and spend time with her. I’ve been dying for one of her lamps since I saw them at the retreat, even looked more than once online, so I was excited to finally buy one directly from her shop to have sent home. Now I have two beautiful pieces of Hannah’s art, bringing cheerful light to my house through the gray Oregon days. Is there anything better than having art you love, made by a friend, gracing your home? I don’t think so.

Last, but certainly not least, is my lovely friend and fellow photographer Rhiannon. I was so excited when she said she’d be able to make it down to Yorkshire for my visit. Her life is a bit crazy, splitting time between her permanent home in Scotland and her temporary home in Holland, so getting a few days with her was fantastic. She and I spent much time wandering Hebden Bridge with our cameras, discussing art, life and our respective creative journeys. I have always loved her painterly photographs created from Polaroids, and enjoyed watching her capture images with her iPhone while we were together. Now that I look back at it, I’m pretty sure our time together had a strong influence on my sudden adoption of mobile photography and editing. Seeing Rhiannon work and hearing her talk about her process planted a seed that burst free a week or two later.

And that, truly, is the beauty of creative connections. They plant seeds. They nurture growth. They encourage us and influence us, maybe sending us in new directions than we otherwise would have gone. I am glad that I heeded the call of my soul and spent the time to renew these connections. My heart is full and my journey is better as a result.