A Bit More Soul » New Zealand Retreat for photographers and creatives, with an incredible bunch of speakers that have been collected up from New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

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With enormous excitement and a bundle of nerves the fourth A Bit More Soul is well on its way – charging ahead to November.
I thought I would share a few thoughts with you about what A Bit More Soul means to me.
When A Bit More Soul first started –  I literally thought there were about 5 photographers in all of New Zealand. I knew no-one. No-one was watching. No-one even cared what A Bit More Soul was or wasn’t. We had this crazy amazing bunch of 25 attendees at the first ABMS down in Arrowtown in 2013.  They were some of the most brilliant, warm hearted, encouraging, stay up till tiny hours dancing group of wonderful folk ever.
In all honesty I still have no idea what a workshop is meant to look like as I’ve still never been to one. Maybe that’s good? Bad? I don’t know? But what I love most about ABMS is that it fumbles a wee bit. I love that it feels gutsy and honest and not slick. Not fancy. Not intimidating.
When the speaking team for each ABMS is put together its about choosing people with guts and heart. With a fearlessness to share what makes them tick. Speakers who have given it their all. Who will help you find your courage – your voice and your tribe.
What drives me is the desire to connect people. If each A Bit More Soul helps to connect even just one person who has been feeling isolated in their journey as an artist then that to me is the very definition of success.
If you come and join us in November – come with an open heart and mind and a willingness to let go. Have fun. Connect. Find like minded souls. Remembering the joy your art brings you. Breathe. Cry. Laugh. Dance. Have no sleep. Be brave. Find people you trust. Discover your tribe.
What is A Bit More Soul all about? To try to sum it up, its about – Finding the courage to speak your own unique voice boldly.
So with all that in mind. Go on. Sign up. We can’t wait to meet you.
Rach x
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It is very hard to believe that the third A Bit More Soul has come to an end. Held in Golden Bay, in a 1950’s Bach perched on the edge of greatness we all met, laugh, cried, shared, danced till dawn, told stories around fires, ate and drank. We found courage in each others boldness sharing our stories with strangers who quickly became friends. To define what A Bit More Soul is – is always so very hard. Its such a personal experience for each individual. The beautiful Emma Case has put it rather nicely in her recent blog post. And below is a gallery of photos taken by the amazing Mike Hill – which to me, sum up so much of what it was all about as well. A most enormous thank you goes out to every person who gave so much of themselves to make A Bit More Soul the little slice of magic that is was. You are the bees knees and the cats pajamas all rolled in to one.

A particularly massive shout out to Yvette from The Piccadilly Flower Company. You created a whole lot of whiz bang magic and made us feel so special. You are one heck of a talented lady and we appreciate all the time and effort you went to and all your kindness. To Lou from The Binding Studio – your hand bound books were incredible. They have been filled with words and dreams and thoughts. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you also to Fiona Mitcham Jewellery, Tinch Design, Plant and Share, Salter Homeopathics, Raindrops on Roses, and Clouds of Colour for making our goodie bags so full of goodness.

So, perhaps make a cup of tea or pour and glass of wine and enjoy the gallery.

 

 

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Emma and Pete’s work has always made me feel like laughing, dancing, crying, jumping up and down and screaming with excitement all at once. To me their work reflects humanity. It shows us what is real and honest and true. And as much as I loved their work before I met them I love it even more now that I consider them both to be very dear friends. Their work is such a true extension of them – they are both infectious, whole hearted, compassionate and truly joyful souls. Here a few insights into who they are – and then beyond that I suggest you come and hang with us for a mad few days in November. Something I know you won’t regret. So if Emma was right here right now she would say make yourself a cuppa and get your eggs boiling, pull up a chair and have a read.

Being self – employed where you can set your own routines – whats your favourite way to start your day?

We tend to be a bit slower in the mornings (I definitely work better at night).. So my perfect morning would be.. get up around 8am.. do an exercise video (ha.. I could’ve sounded all cool and said Yoga in the garden or something but no, it’s an exercise video that both me and Pete do in the living room while Max, our cat wanders in-between our legs while we’re stretching). Then we like to have breakfast together.. sit with a cuppa and talk about what we need to do that day. We then try to tackle emails first which always take longer than expected. I like to try and have a break around 4pm.. maybe go and sit in the garden.. or a bike ride.. something that doesn’t involve the computer..

When I think of Emma I always think of Pete – you seem to be the perfect team. Did this evolve without you really thinking about it? Whats the best part of working with your amazing other half?

As a couple we have always been a team, a unit, best friends, with a shared vision of life and the world around us…. When the business started and Emma was on her own, even though I was working full time I still wanted to be part of the weddings, we are each others biggest fans and champions, so whatever each of us wants to do or achieve, the other will be right by their side cheering them on. I would always go with Emma to assist on the weddings and be her back up. I actually look back and wonder how on earth I got away with it sometimes, I used to rock up at someones wedding, get fed, get drunk, dance with the bride and if there was Karaoke I was sure as shit the first on it…. It sort of became my weekend release! So I guess I’ve always been there from the beginning. When I was made redundant 3 and a half years ago we made the easy decision to go for it as a joint venture together. It wasn’t without its hurdles for us to overcome, what started as a single person’s vision had to now be both of us united, so we had to work out who did what, who took charge of what aspects of the business, we had to learn to play to our strengths and it took time and we are still learning, the best advice is to talk openly and honestly all the time, keep communicating, check in with each other and make sure you are on the same page. This approach goes for life and our marriage too. The best thing is that we get to share this ride together as a team, we’ve been shooting together for 3 years now and we definitely bring the best out in each other and are a pretty formidable team together, it has made us really appreciate how lucky we are and what a precious gift we’ve been given, both in business and marriage.

Pete – what really inspires you and gets the hairs on your beard standing on end?

As you know I’m a bundle of energy and contradictions…so inspiration strikes in many and varied forms… I suppose the last year or so I’ve been really drawn to the real heart and guts of life, the simple moments and gestures that fundamentally sum up who a person is and how they feel.. So its not always shiny, happy or conventionally attractive .. It can be sad, it can be bleak, it can be raw but it is fundamentally human and for that it is beautiful.

Artists like British Social documentary photographer Jim Mortram, who has a blog called ‘Small Town Inertia’ he dedicates himself to his subjects and really gets to know them, they may be people struggling with mental illness, or poverty and they exist on the edges of society, he devotes a long time to each person to really get to know them and earn
their trust so he can document them as they really are.

A good friend of ours Nick Tucker has a wonderful, slightly harsher, realistic take on wedding photography that I really love, so I often find myself channeling my inner Nick Tucker at weddings and looking for the more social commentary style shots to take, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t but its good to challenge myself. My own personal
love of wedding photography has always been the connection of families, the generations, marking the passing of time, the sight of enduring love is huge for me, if I see an old couple who’ve been together for 50/60 years, my heart melts and I have to capture them in all their wonder, the slight touches and gestures of affection between loved ones, its the small moments that make you feel connected, and that’s what fires me and Emma up more than anything.

We were recently given a wonderful book called Kodachrome Memory, American Pictures 1972 – 1990 by Nathan Benn. It is a stunning documentary of American culture over a 20 year period and again it seems devoted to those living on the edge of society, the trailer parks and dirty bars, there is an undiluted raw sexiness that is hard to pin down, but every image hits you right between the eyes, you cannot take your eyes off the page, and that is real inspiration to me, to create something so real that it sucks the viewer right in.

I am also a huge fan of music and music culture so the iconic imagery of my favourite artists is always pushing me to find that angle, or that feeling of emotion. I’m a bit of a sucker for Julian Casablancas, the lead singer of the Strokes and anything he’s involved in, so his current music project Julian Casablancas and the Voids is doing awesome things to me, again he’s an all round experience package, so its the music, the visuals and the outfits that go with it that give you the feeling of complete satisfaction…. I’d like to use this approach to more of the the things I get involved in.

My love of film and filming has been hugely reignited this past year and I’ve had a number of wonderful challenges to overcome, I love shooting on super 8 film cameras, the grain, the flicker, the textures and the colours are so emotive and nostalgia inducing, you can’t fail to be moved by it. I’ve ended up filming a couple of weddings and friends
bands, so its been a whole new learning experience for me and new love affair.

Emma – do you have a favourite environment to photograph in?

My subject’s every day environment. Whether that’s a Bride getting ready at home or documenting wonderful allotment owners amongst their lovingly grown veg.. I love to enter their world.. see it with their eyes…

And finally – Emma – when I was a kid I wanted to be….

A police officer or an actress. When we were growing up there was a drama on TV called ‘The Bill’ about a local police force and I used to think that would be a pretty perfect ‘kill two birds with one stone’ kinda job.

And Pete – At the moment I’m listening to…..

The fuzzy distorted guitar sounds of the recent album by Death From Above 1979, a scuzzy heavy disco metal band from Canada, who recently reformed. I quite like the heavy blues duo from Brighton, Royal Blood, also The War on Drugs for driving around to and I’ve had a new found love for Nick Cave and The Badseeds recently too, but on the flip side a true gem of an album is our good friend Si Moore’s band Streets of Laredo, its indie folk, its warm, its life affirming and euphoric….. they have literally been the soundtrack to all of our road trips this past year and I am beyond chuffed to know that their debut album is out worldwide on Vinyl! Go Simon! Go Streets of Laredo!

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www.emmacasephotography.com

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Over the next few weeks I thought it would be nice for you to get to know a little bit more about each of the speakers you will be meeting in November. So I’ve put together a few light questions for Mike Hill. Mike will be teaching two underwater photography workshops during A Bit More Soul which I am definitely pretty excited about.  Mike has also taken over the A Bit More Soul Instagram feed the last couple of weeks with his incredible underwater photography.

How long have you been taking photos?

I am 43 years of age –  from about the age of 12 I have been caught playing with a camera from time to time. When I was in my mid thirties I thought wow I might be able to do this as a job and it turned into a lifestyle.

Your personal work seems to be a huge part of who you are as a photographer – whats the best part of shooting underwater?

Personal work is finding what makes me go wow and then working out how I can bring this wow into use with my clients. Its free space to play and gain more understanding in the craft. Water just makes me feel at home, it offers more than land allows me to do, it scares me as well as comforts me. Plus I am really good at floating.

Whats been one of the biggest learning curves for you in your underwater photography?

Patience and knowing where to be, forgetting you are food for whats beneath you.
 

Where do you find your inspiration?

Wow this is hard, it used to be from looking at others work – but the last few months its coming from just how I feel – watching my kids do things and just getting lost and excited in light.

What makes you really happy?

My girls – they teach me so much in terms of being a better person – not just to them but to everyone. So proud of them and can’t stop smiling. Ohhhh and Tequila is pretty good as well.

Name a person or event you would love to photograph?

It changes all the time thinking about that – though I am drawn to the Burning Man event at the moment.

And finally…name a Superhero you’d love to have lunch with….

Umm is the invisible man a super hero? It would just be the perfect lunch person to sit with and talk to before the white paddy wagon turned up to put me in a straight jacket.

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So fine folks! A Bit More Soul 3 is open for registration. We are ridiculously excited. Our tummies are filled with butterflies. And the adventures have been planned!

We have an incredible line up of speakers from across New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

They are Fiona Andersen, Oli Sansom, Bayly & Moore, Jake Thomas, Joel McKerrow, Mitch Clark, Danelle Bohane, David Dixon and Emma Case.

They have some stories to share from their own personal journies. They have crazy big hearts a passion for what is real and for following and chasing crazy ideas and dreams.

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