I spent some time recently as a student at the Foundation Workshop in Austin. Foundation is essentially a mind blowing group of talented photographers who are brought together to teach students to be a more effective photojournalist, storyteller, and photographer. My team leader was Greg Gibson, a two time Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist who I have a ton of admiration for, and my mentors were Deanne Fitzmaurice, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, and Matt Mendelsohn, an extremely experienced photojournalist. Needless to say, with that lineup I knew was going to get much out of the experience.
I got more out of it than I expected, and not only the things I was anticipating.
I was looking for inspiration and a nudge to get myself to another level in my work. I got that, but the change in mindset is what will effect me most over the long term. The greatest gifts I was given by this group of photographers was a renewed desire to document the world outside of my wedding work, the realization that people are very receptive to sharing their stories, you just have to cross the first hurdle and ask, and that there are great stories everywhere if you’re paying attention. Greg, Deanne, and Matt also had so many fascinating stories to tell and personal projects to share, that alone was nearly worth the price of admission.
The workshop requires each participant to shoot an assignment given to you by your Team Leader. They attempt to find a fit for each student that will challenge their specific needs. You then spend 2-3 days shooting your story, and spend some late nights with your teammates and the Team Leader/Mentors going over your work. They help you decide how to develop your story, and critique your images. My final product was a slideshow with around 40 images that we shared with all the other groups on the last night of the workshop. Since the point of the workshop is in the process of making the images and developing your story rather than in the final product, they ask that we only share a few images with the world rather than the full slideshow.
My assignment was to shoot the goings on at the Yellow Bike Project, and it widened to shooting cyclists in the greater Austin area. It was quite the challenge as it was below freezing a couple of the assignment days!
It was definitely an intense and worthwhile experience, and I’d recommend it highly to any photographer that is already pretty comfortable around a camera but is looking to challenge the way they see and think. A great side benefit was coming away with a new group of like minded friends.
It was really difficult to only choose a few, but these are the images I’m choosing to share:
Thanks so much To Greg, Deanne, Matt, my teammates, and the greater Foundation community for a life changing experience.