Let me first start off by saying this weekend was one of the most memorable times I’ve had in my life. Not because of the opportunity I was presented with by Creative Live, but because of the incredible people & experiences I encountered on this 3 day journey.
I got in late Thursday night, feeling like the odd-one out as I was the last to arrive to the hotel. Everyone had already gathered together in one of the hotel rooms and started swapping stories. A little intimidated, they told me I had to be “initiated” into the group & pointed to the fridge. I opened it up, and what do I see?
Fat tire beer.
At that moment, I knew this was going to be a great weekend. We all got each other’s backgrounds (weekend warrior vs. full-throttle photographer) and argued over who was more obsessed with Jasmine Star. After smelling her hair Saturday night, I feel safe to say that Ashley took the cake on that one.
A few beers deep, we all decided that in the morning – when meeting Jasmine for the first time, we’d have to make an impression. I brought up the idea of dressing in theme via Breakfast Club, and what evolved was nothing short of amazing. Ashley has the videos aka proof aka blackmail videos from the weekend, so we’re all hoping she’ll give you the inside scoop on what went down that night.
Come morning. All of us dressed in black, shades to match, we waltzed into the Emerald Café to the side of the hotel, 10 minutes late to meeting our weekend mentor, Jasmine Star. At first she met us with an angrily pointed finger, followed by a look of disbelief of what was happening. Snapping in synch, the group of us delivered a Seattle greeting unlike any other, complete with a delivery of flowers via Westside Story style. (Props to Ashley for the flowers)
On to day 1 of filming. We headed across the street to CreativeLive studios to get mic’d up, set in our seats, and prepped for the day. Jasmine gave each of us a handwritten note (very thoughtful) and a branded notepad to use during the workshop. (I’m guessing if you watched, you probably heard me tearing through page after page jotting things down)
To be honest, day 1 was a bit of a ‘refresher’. It was mainly geared for the person just starting out in photography, and getting set-up with the bare basics on starting a business. While I wanted to learn, another goal aside learning from Jasmine, was to connect to people along the same mindset that would possibly be watching the broadcast that day. If you connected with where I’m coming from, drop me a line!
After finishing the day, we headed out to some local eats and checked out the space needle. The night ended with the group howling at the moon (literally), and the view of the city set the tone for the feel of the next day.
Day 2. This was the day that counted. Saturday. Everyone’s off work, tuning in, and paying attention. My phone was blowing up with texts and tweets talking about “what the hell I was wearing in my hair”. (You would have had to watch to get that part)
During lunch, I had the opportunity to get in a candid conversation with Jasmine about some topics that would ‘not’ be ideally addressed on live internet. These kind of chats, and her personal opinion/reaction to my perspective were what really hit me. I felt like I wasn’t getting “the workshop” in this conversation, but rather the person. The way she thought, her attitude towards certain practices in the industry, and outlook on life.
My Top 3 Take-aways from the weekend & I’ll be integrating in my business:
1. Cut the fat. No more work that isn’t the direction I want to go. Even if it means a pay-cut.
2. Get everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in check and on point. Working on the few areas I feel could be improved upon to be the best & then going FULL THROTTLE in marketing & pursuing the kind of jobs I want.
3. Living the life I want. I work for the lifestlye – not the money, name, fame, recognition, etc. I want to enjoy life the best I can & I’m going to make the effort to work hard, but enjoy the time I have here. And in turn, I want to help others have an awesome time – going to start giving back A LOT more.
So the day ended with me giving a speech (not filmed) and all of us taking group photos, celebrating the entire experience. What I didn’t realize, however, was that what would matter most to me was the time ‘after’ the workshop.
We all went out for sushi, and celebrated with Saki bombs. (Not all of us drank) As the night went on, it became less and less about photography but rather more and more about the people who were THERE, taking part in the experience together. We hit a hipster bar a little later, and I’m not sure when it clicked – but I realized that it wasn’t the business tips, the cool companies to get in touch with, or the twitter followers that I was going to value the most that weekend, but the people I met along the way.
A night filled with hipsters, patrón, a gay nightclub, a lost prostitute, and crass conversation – it will definitely live down as an experience of a lifetime. Guys, that’s all I’d prefer to talk about, and I think we should keep the rest between us. ;)
Candice Benjamin – You are one of the most down-to-earth, genuine, kind, and misunderestimated people I’ve ever met. (Yeah, I love that word.) I feel like brides are in on a ‘secret’ right now if they can still book you at your current rate. But it’s so true – your talent is incredible, and I can’t tell you how stoked I am to have been there during the moment you made the decision to change your life for the best. Today is going to be a day you’ll look back on for the rest of your life, and I want you to remember that feeling of freedom, independence, and overall “badass-ness”. You deserve it. I can’t wait to see all the things that come your way this year. FULL THROTTLE BABY. I can see the day when you’re blowing up the creative live screen and I’ll be tweeting all-the-while, “I know her! I was in the same workshop with her 2 years ago!!” Kill it Candy.
Anthony Quesada – DUDE! SO glad you were my roommate.Although it might not have seemed like much when we talked about it Saturday night, you made me think in a bigger spectrum about the direction I want my career to go these next few years. (That’s a pretty big shift if you think about it) TimKingBoobs.com…Kidding! Kind of…But seriously – you helped me take a step back, and think about what I really want out of life. The rockstar, the actor, or the athlete…why not have my cake & eat it too? I felt we’re cut from the same crop, and I’m really excited to see what you’ve been working on behind closed doors with your website. If it’s anything like the video you made for the contest, I’m sure it will impress the hell out of people. I’ll be dropping in next time I’m in SF, so don’t be surprised when you get a call!
Erin Oveis Brant – Okay. Not going to lie. I was expecting a reserved, shy, and old-fashioned mom-type from Baffaloh, New York. You BLEW MY MIND. Seriously!! I can’t believe how you totally flipped the script on my expectations this weekend, and at some points during the trip, I had to check myself. “Did that just happen?” “Did she just say that??” BTW, your quote at the Emerald café late Saturday night is still my favorite from the weekend. I’m so thankful to know someone as awesome as you, and I will say that if you move out west & I don’t personally hear the news of it first-hand, I’m gonna be offended. I’m eager to hear about your biz out East and want you to keep us updated & informed with how it all works out with the 2nd shooters. You keep it real, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it – even though I might have been caught off guard once or twice (or seven) times this weekend.
Christy Cropper – Not sure if you know this, but you were CRUCIAL to the cohesion this weekend. If there was no talk of the shirts, there would have been no “wolf-pack,” no howling at the moon, no soundtrack of the weekend. (And by the way, I’ve listened to it about three times now…you’ve got great taste.) I’m stoked you were able to join this go-round, and bringing your YOUniqueness to the game. I feel like that’s what the group needed to break the ice, and if it weren’t for that – we all wouldn’t be as tight-knit. THANK YOU. And by the way, did I say thank you for the not 1, not 2, but 3 pieces of gum you hooked it up with yesterday? Word. Again, you rock. Don’t think you’re off the hook just yet though, because it’s just getting to be pool party season and Vegas has just started calling my name. I might be hitting you up pretty soon in case you want to do a shoot at the boneyard – because hey, j*jets gotta have some territory, right?
John Payne – John! Damn’t man, I am so glad you were part of the group this weekend. I underestimated you a little bit, and then BAM – you were one cool-ass mofo! Anthony and I were talking about you yesterday as a matter of fact, and we both agreed – this trip would NOT have been the same with out you! You are one down-ass dude! And Glencoe??? WTF?! How awesome is that?! So glad to have met you man, and so cool to have met Natalie as well, you guys are a great fit – northface jackets & all. (Next time I’m back in CO I’m getting one, you guys made me jealous today.) Before I forget – check out Tocabe – it’s a native american indian taco restaurant in north Denver. A little far, but TOTALLY worth the drive. Let me know after you try it & get addicted. Expect a call next time I’m in town, and like I said – whenever you wanna visit SD – you’ve got a place to crash. (Can’t blame me though if you end up wanting to move out here)
Ashley Goodwin- I just clicked over to your twitter to grab your site link, and saw the description under your handle. I’m eager to see that description change, and the day I do, I’m raising a glass for you. Patrón, stella bomb, jagerbomb, whatever it is – it’ll be in celebration of you…as it’s going to be the moment you come into your own. Your personality is TOO AWESOME to be held behind the brand of someone else, and I just know that when you make that jump, it’s going to propel you into the world that’s just waiting there for you. The world that’s waiting for you to BLOW IT’S MIND. Seriously Ash, (I know, I know, it’s weird when strangers do it, but fuck it.
Jasmine Star – Jazz, (as in Jazz hands) you’re the bomb. This weekend exceeded my expectations in so many more ways than one – and I can’t thank you & the CL team enough for making it happen. I know you get this a dime a dozen after each of these events, but I’d feel like a jerk if I didn’t say it – you changed the lives of not only 7 photographers, but a MULTITUDE of people throughout the course of this weekend. To be able to inspire someone strong enough to make such a dramatic change as to quit their job, change their major, or buy that camera they’ve been thinking about for so long – it’s so incredible. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see someone put out such a positive push in the world – and it was great meeting the girl behind it all. Your hard work, dedication, and determination are working their way towards an ultimate fruition (currently unrevealed) – and I can speak for us all when I say we’re insanely stoked for you. You deserve it. And yeah, just to re-iterate, you looked amazing in those white pants. Haha kidding JD, kidding! But seriously, so awesome to meet you both…and a huge THANK YOU for making it all happen.
All you guys, seriously. Can’t tell you how much this weekend meant to me, and how much you guys have all had an impact on my life. “Where there were – there were 2 of us in the wolf-pack, (I was first, and Anthony came later) I know know that I can call you all one of my own, and my wolfpack has grown by 7.” Can’t wait to see where we’re all at a month, a year, 5 years, a decade from now and look back on this weekend as the one that changed it for the best.
To the J* Jets. You guys rock.
PS – John, thanks for the wicked photo, came out sick!
PPS – This video makes me smile, thanks to Kenna & Susan with Behind the Live!