“Courage, freedom passion and community where handed out like socks at ABMS3 and now I have all that strength to stand and walk into all I’ve dreamed, turning what had become a hated job back into what it has always been MY dream that feeds me life”
“ABMS challenged this, instead of teaching us the technical or business side, it reached far deeper and stripped everything back. It took me back to that first “holy crap, I want to be a photographer” moment”.
When I think back to that moment I worked out I wanted to be a photographer, it was an emotional connection. I was sitting in room at a conference listening to Melanie Burford speak about her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the families lives she joined and followed, witnessing a real human connection to photography.
Generally looking at photography it’s all about the technical side, how you’ve framed, exposed and edited it, and that’s cool. For me though, it has always been about the other “stuff”, the bits that make you breathless, the people, the connection.
Life gets messy, shit happens that pulls us down, and makes us forget the reason why we started and loved photography in the first place. Families become just another client in front of the camera, we shoot the same way for everyone and get stuck in a creative rut, wondering why we are doing this? Nothing since that day had made me think about it, and really think. ABMS challenged this, instead of teaching us the technical or business side, it reached far deeper and stripped everything back. It took me back to that first “holy crap, I want to be a photographer” moment. Why, How, What next?
It was a roller coaster of emotions and realisations. So many tears, laughter and goodness! Not only has the experience refreshed and made me re-look at everything photography differently, but its seeped through into every part of my life, sounds cheesy I know but its straight up true! (Cheese is good!) I say experience, because it really was. They change you. Experience : the process or fact of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something: And the people…words really can’t explain. It was like I gained a whole new family, and they are awesome! Everyone from the talkers to the other people attending, on the same page, no judging, no rankings, everyone with a story to share, even if they didn’t realise its importance to someone else there at the time. Challenging, inspiring, caring. Hanging out with a cool bunch of people, eating good food, talking good chats, and learning more about myself. A bit more everything really!!
Image: Melissa Mills, Contax 645, Portra 400
“You truly develop a sense of community and family in just a few short days and that was just what I was looking for.”
My ABMS experience was more than what I could have ever expected. I knew it was going to push me out of my comfort zone but I wasn’t aware just how far and supported I would feel when doing so.
Image: Melissa Mills, Contaxt 645, Portra 400
“My head feels so much clearer and my creative eye is on all the time, once again I just want to photograph the shit out of everything.”
Spending four days talking about photography with other artists was such an experience. This was my second ABMS, and I still can’t really figure out how to explain it. What I can say is when I arrived I felt really burnt out and when I left I felt alot lighter.
Image: Melissa Mills
“The biggest thing I gained was to feel comfortable in my own photography ‘skin’, priceless”
While I was very excited about attending A Bit More Soul 3 and being in the company of photographers I held in such high esteem, I quickly became incredibly nervous about the workshop and my self doubt popped in to say hello. However you realise pretty quickly at ABMS that all the speakers are there to lift you up – no one is there to drag you down.
Image: Melissa Mills, Contax 645, Portra 400
“A rising tide lifts all boats. As a creative you want to push yourself, you want to grow and you want to see yourself produce the best possible art you can. I have learnt that doing what you love is better with others. You grow together and there comes a joy from seeing your friends grow and achieve their dreams. Rachel Brown and Emily Adamson created something that your soul needs. A platform where egos, jealousy and walls are stripped back. Friendships and bonds are formed. Like an elastic band you are stretched, pulled apart but it was meant to be. And after 4 days you are ready to sail, with your fleet, into greater adventures.”
“Before I attended ABMS I was a little bit lost. It’s a tricky feeling to explain…. it’s that feeling that niggles you, makes you feel like you’re inadequate or that you don’t quite fit the profile of who you want to be. For so long I felt like I was trying to tread water, who was I to believe I could be considered a “photographer”?
I was always so afraid of what other people thought of me…. whether it was delivering images to a client or throwing an image up on the Clipic facebook page, I was terrified.
If someone came to me and said they liked my work, I would chuckle awkwardly to myself and thank them coyly, never truly believing in myself or the idea that people could actually admire what I was doing.
Now, after this ABMS experience… For the first time in two years since I started up my little business… I can say that feeling has disappeared.
I have been given a completely new perspective on my photography. How I see things/How I feel about what I do/WHY I do what I do. I feel like I have this gut instinct of exactly where I want to go from here and how I hope to get there.
I was already hugely passionate about what I was doing before ABMS… but now, I can feel that fire that was ignited inside me 3 years ago has been given the fuel to burn even brighter.
Photography can feel very lonely at times, working for yourself and by yourself…. Before ABMS I was lonely. Now, I know a group of people in that exact same boat as me, and we are all on this journey together. As Jake Thomas so rightly put it, “doing what you love is better with others”.”
“I finished editing these photos last night and thought writing about this whole experience would be the easy part.
I. was. wrong.
I have been sitting in front of my computer for the past 2 hours and I still can’t seem to find the words to describe what I felt during those 4 days I spent with these amazing people.
What I thought would just be a simple retreat learning about other people’s journey proved to be something way beyond than what I had expected. Something I didn’t even realise I needed so badly.
Yes, listening to Kate, Fiona, Jake, Mike, Oli, Sophie, Simon, Emma and Pete talk about their journey was incredible but them pouring their hearts out and giving us a piece of their soul is something that I will forever be grateful for.
I have learnt that it’s the people and the relationships you build along the way that makes this whole journey worthwhile and I’m really glad I found friends who are willing to break down their walls and grow together.
People, who, like me are just fumbling in the dark and learning as they go.”
“Isn’t that a great name for a photography workshop? It says it all really. I was so lucky to get a place on this amazing photography retreat last week, held out at the beautiful, rugged Boomrock. The presenters didn’t just speak and run as is so often the case with workshops – they hung out with us for the whole four days, so we were all like one big happy family by the end of it. It was a pretty emotional experience I have to say (I seem to be incapable of watching someone cry without joining them). These incredibly talented photographers were so open and giving with their knowledge, and honest about how hard it has been for them at times. There was a lot of great stuff on how to cull the crap, trust your instinct and drill in on your own photographic voice. And the need to remember that we see only the ‘highlights reels’ of other people’s work: it’s so easy to think there’s some big secret, to measure ourselves against others and find ourselves wanting. In the words of Jake Thomas though, we just need to do the small things well, and do them with integrity and kindness.”
Emma Case and Pete Smyth
..and I’m just going to lay it all down right now and say that the retreat was life changing for us. I think everyone expected to learn some stuff, make new friends, feel a new burst of energy but it went far, far, far beyond that.