drew and elise shot on the first day of the workshop with a contax g2 and 35 mm fuji 400H scanned at richard photo lab

let's go back to the start. wppi vegas. march 2010. the last platform class uncle marty and i attended was jonathan canlas. i'd be shocked if you haven't heard of him, and you haven't do yourself a favor, click on that link and get to know one of the most passionate and generous photographers in the biz. we all know what wppi is. amazing? yes. trying to get every photographer in the world to spend as much money as possible? yes yes yes. inspiring? of course. almost as schmoozy as the city it takes place in (vegas)? uh---yeah.


as soon as we set foot in the smallish, carpeted side room where canlas was presenting, everything felt DIFFERENT. familiar. alive. relatable -- its taken me awhile to figure out how that room felt so magically like home--but i've since realized its because canlas brings nothing but good old fashioned earnestness and passion to the table, and he attracts people after the same good stuff. never mind that there were plenty of industry giants gathered to hear canlas present (chris and sarah rhoads, cough, jose villa, cough, cough...) i'm telling you the room had this warmth and almost tangible feeling of---oh crap, i don't know, DOWN TO EARTHNESS.

i was beside myself.

and though this post is supposed to be about jonathan canlas's FIND workshop, not his wppi presentation, i had to tell you about it, because somewhere towards the end, after i had laughed and cried, canlas announced he was gong to pick the "best designed," of the business cards that had been collected from everyone in the room. the owner of the winning card would be awarded a free seat to the San Diego FILM IS NOT DEAD workshop that summer. i held my breath, my heart sped up, i knew something was going to happen, i KNEW it,  and.....he didn't pick our card. instead he held up sarah rhoads" gorgeous letter pressed business card, and the room cheered.


but a few minutes later, he did the whole song and dance again, with the help of his FINDER team. this time the seat was to FIND park city, a mere 45 minute drive from my home. i tried to seem unconcerned with what was happening, but couldn't keep my eyes from wandering to the front of the room where i saw a special someone tap a card (i coudn't tell who it belonged to) and say, " what about this one..."

you know what's coming next. canlas held up the card and asked who it belonged to. my 6 month pregnant self stood up to stutter and claim it while uncle marty beamed beside me and that was that.

but what i haven't told you yet is how for the past few months i'd been taken with the work of brilliant artists like canlas, elizabeth messina and jose villa --- and how i hadn't known but i realized at wppi that they were all film shooters. when i realized this i thought that maybe i should try shooting film, but then it seemed too out of reach, too challenging. i haven't told you how i'd been so unsatisfied with the look of my own work for so long that i was becoming frustrated and depressed on a daily basis. how the artist part of me felt empty and disappointed without knowing why.

fast forward a handful of months to october 2010. i hadn't bought a film camera yet. i was buried in post processing. taking too long trying to emulate the look of film. i was burnt out, and down on my work--tired from a busy wedding season. so tired from spending so much time away from my 3 lovelies, that i even considered attending a later FIND installment. but hadn't i waited for long enough? hadn't i already established this in my mind as meant to be?

so i went. unprepared and a little timid, but i went. and film is not dead park city 2010 RUINED MY LIFE. because i fell in love. because i felt the thrill of shooting again using a medium i am not currently outfitted to use.  because i was in the moment as i shot, not in the moment and also in the moment's aftermath with my LCD screen. because jon's wife, callie fed me delicious food that i still think about but that i can't access anywhere else. because i didn't only fall in love, i became OBSESSED with film, and its all i've been able to think about since.

i've seen a lot of buzz lately on the subject of film vs digital and how they're both simply tools and its all about the artist who uses them. and i agree with that stance. i really do. plus, i'm still shooting digital. its what i know at a professional level---but i'm learning with f i l m. and the more i learn, the more i realize that there is something about the look and range and depth of it that makes film my artistic soul mate.

of course, its not just the look, its the artist it allows me to be. some folks claim digital is a crutch---well, i think film might be mine. in that it FORCES me to slow down. to be in the moment, to compose every image with intent and purpose. of course one can do all of these things with digital, but let me tell you, i've been known cheat in a major way. continuous shooting mode anyone? snap snap, snap snap, snap --- its all deletable, i'll dig my way to the moment----   film doesn't let you cheat.and if you try, um, its expensive.

so, yes, thus far, i know i've been all, "film this, and film that," but the funny thing about the FILM IS NOT DEAD workshop, is its not just about film. yes it gives you just about every resource you need to successfully shoot film, but more than that, its a culture of people interested in refining their artistic vision. at the heart of that culture is papa canlas, shouting at you to stop looking at other people's work, to get out and shoot personal projects, to figure out what you want to say with your own voice. i don't care who you are, where you've been, or how much success you've enjoyed, EVERYONE needs that reminder, that push, that example of greatness. and it doesn't hurt that he'll share every business "secret," he's discovered along the way.

in conclusion,

do you ever have that feeling that saying thank you won't be enough? so you don't know what to say and you almost end up not saying anything at all? shamefully, this happens too much to me, and almost happened again as its been months since the workshop, and i am just now writing this post. so jon, and finders across the world, (yes world)? flat out, unreal, i kid you not,  thanks.

p.s. head to jon's blog as just today he posted a down-loadable pdf of what's in his bag!