Beloved – Image Explorations 2011

It’s my first night of my second year at Image Explorations 2011, one of the best professional development conferences for photographers in North America. I was introduced to IE by Stuart Kasdorf, one of the first master photographers I sought trade advice from. At IE a few years ago I had the pleasure of studying my craft under glamour wedding photographer Scott Robert Lim, who gave me a big hug this evening. Thanks to IE, I’ve had personal conversations with Dane Sanders (founder of the Fast Track Photographer movement), and board members of the PPA (Professional Photographers of America), and tonight, after hearing a great deal of hype about him, I was able to listen to and meet Jesh de Rox.

Jesh is a very controversial, award winning, raw and empathic individual whose ideas are taking the photography world by storm, with many people – particularly female or more empathetic photographers – branding his ideas as genius. Then there’s the many others calling him an overpriced fraud at best. I found him compelling as a person, very open and interested in the people around him, and though he was a bit too basic in his speaking at times, he did have some very inspiring thoughts about the co-existence of photography and life to the point of being inseparable and the power of photography sessions to heal relationships.

Like so many other photographers, I have to admit I think his prices are ridiculous – both for educational material and private sessions. Despite a healthy dose of skepticism, my interest was piqued and I watched some of an online seminar a few months back. After over an hour, I left confused and frustrated by the lack of concrete information. Tonight, however, he finally touched on a few more concrete ideas of what he was doing. I felt as though I had perhaps found a way to take something I was already very good at and become truly masterful.

Now since I’ve been so unhelpfully vague, I’ll give a brief overview of the concept: Experiential photography – allowing the people you work with to access the part of them that is most themselves through using their imagination. A relational, non-mental approach to avoid fake smiles and awkwardness. Although I’m already partway on the road to doing this well, Jesh has some good ideas to help me on this path. But I’m not willing to pay for more – I have my own ideas going forward.

Today has been inspiring so far and I am looking forward to more! I’ll try to keep blogging about it.

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