Almost two months ago now, I attended Peter Hurley's Headshot Intensive two-day workshop in New York City. Game to learn even more, I stayed for the Intensified third day, too. As a photographer, the chance to work with a leader in any part of the industry is priceless especially as a part of a small group. What I didn't anticipate, though, is the impact the other photographers in the class would have on me.
If you've never met Peter, and if you have any interest in photography at all, you should Google him and watch one of his videos. He is, and this is a complete understatement, a larger-than-life character, which is part of what makes him so good at what he does. He's in your face, and isn't afraid to offer critical feedback, but you trust him because he's earned it through his own focus on his craft.
The more I think about him, the more I realize that he's brilliant, maybe a genius. I Instagram-ed a photo of him during the class where I said he was "an artist, an educator, a philosopher, a therapist, a psychologist, and a pretty cool guy." I left out about a hundred other positive adjectives that would suit him well. He knew that I was terrified when it came time to actually photograph him--on my own--yet his good-natured prodding and explanation made even that task unforgettable.
Although I felt largely overwhelmed and under-qualified to be there for most of the first two days, I probably gained more from this workshop than any I have ever taken in any aspect of my career and life. I was surely intimidated by the idea of directing professional models and actors in front of my camera, and I wasn't very good at it. But I kept at it, and I'm so glad I did. We even had to approach strangers on the streets of NYC and ask them to pose for us--completely out of my comfort zone.
But as the days progressed, and especially on the third day, a remarkable thing happened. Although my fellow photographers were from all over the country and, literally, the world, we began sharing and helping each other. Not a one of them made me feel inferior even though several had much more experience, confidence, technical know-how, and artistic talent. Normally, a group of specialists in any industry would limit knowledge sharing for competitive advantage, and I have found that to be true in other settings where I'm interacting with photographers.
But this group was different. Especially on that third day, we all collaborated, questioned, answered, and generally got along great. I have always felt this way, but I fully witnessed that whatever edge could be gained by not sharing is vastly outweighed by the growth actually achieved by working together. I thank Yolande, John, Alexis, Raifu, Tiffany, Linda, Carolyn, Mark, Dave, Kristie, Mike, Jim, and, of course, Peter, for their generosity that weekend.
More than thirty hours of intense training that I will never forget. I am a better photographer for having been with this Crew for three days. And, in some ways, maybe even a bit better person.