Once Upon a Time … Sally Drew and I imagined co-facilitating a workshop in visual journalling. In March of this year, our dream came true.
We ventured forth with 25 kindred souls to spend three months exploring what stories our photographs had to tell. It was an intense experience, to say the least.
Last week, Sally and I got together to talk about what it was like for each of us and to review the feedback from participants.
A workshop is always an evolving entity and we learn from each and every one. It’s success hinges on the community gathered, for they bring the materials to life.
We had an incredible community.
Here’s what I learned.
* Our photographs always say something about us.
* Writing about our photographs helps us to learn what they have to say.
* Writing can be enjoyable. Many discovered their hidden talents in writing.
Having never written at all before this course, I learned that I can write words that explain or enhance my photos. I found that I have many ways to write these words – essays, poems, just words, explanations or even using someone else’s words if they are what I want to say. But I have also learned to SHARE my words with my photos. ~ Mary Rawl
* Writing about our photographs teaches us to be more conscious before we click the shutter.
* Our photographs will be perceived differently by every single viewer.
* Writing about our photographs can help us gain confidence in photography and in life.
I feel a profound shift has occurred. I’m engaging with, and embracing, the world, but I’m also reflecting on it. In short, Visual journalling has empowered me: to honour who I am. That’s not a throwaway comment. My confidence has been enhanced: I am taking better photographs and I’m writing about them. I had hoped to learn how to do the latter, but I had not nursed expectations that the former would be true, also. ~ Sophia Roberts
* Sharing our photographs and our writing helps us, but also helps others.
* The practice of writing makes us better writers, just as the practice of photography makes us better photographers.
* Communities are important. We need to support each other’s efforts and uniqueness. We learn more by doing it together.
Sally wrote the following to the participants at the end of the workshop.
“These past 12 weeks have been an emotional maelstrom for me. Aspects of myself that had lain dormant over time started to agitate and rise to the surface. In the safety and support of this community, I learned new channels of creative expression and was consistently inspired beyond words.
At the end, I came out with the knowing that I have the courage and strength to transform my life and am fuelled by the restorative powers of solitude, beauty, presence and reflection.
I extend to you the invitation to defy description.
Remain open to your experiences and explorations.
Feel what you feel, do what you do, express how you express, and glory in the all of it.
Defy the limiting powers of description; for you, your art, your potential – all are limitless.
Walk with your heart open, your camera ready, your connection to all that inspires you and the journaling method that best leads you to deeper understanding and fulfillment.
Defy description, and know – you are significant and your presence and contributions matter.
She does have a way with words, doesn’t she?
I hope you’ll join us for the next session of Once Upon a Time: Your Photographs have Stories to Tell, which will be held in January 2016.
Not sure about writing about your photographs? Why not start with just one word?
Announcing a new project, and it’s free.
As a way of continuing my own practice of writing about my photographs, I’m starting a project based on David Whyte’s book, Consolations. This book includes short essays on each of 52 words. I’ll be reading the reflections for one word each week and then opening to what I see that week around that word. Then, I’ll write about the photograph in terms of that word.
Here’s how you can participate. I’ve created a free community on Google+ called Adventures in Seeing that is open to anyone. You are invited to join the community and post one photograph and your reflection on the word for that week. Tag your photograph with the word. I’ll post a new word each Friday, beginning this week (Heads up: first word is “alone”).
I do hope you’ll join me.