Current Occupation: Attorney Workshops: Destination India 2017, Bali: Island of the Gods 2018; Project Puerto Rico 2019 Instructors: Jamie Rose, John Christopher Anderson, Craig Semetko, Gabi Perez-Silver
1. What motivated you to take a workshop and why did you pick Momenta?
I was impressed by the mission statement of Momenta and their nonprofit work as well. That was important to me. Momenta’s approach to a destination workshop was also more appealing to me because they really immerse you into the local culture and scene. It was a very authentic and rewarding experience. Some workshops provide a subject in local garb and then the workshop participants act like paparazzi trying to get a shot. That is not the Momenta way. They give you time, space and flexibility for you to connect, reflect and focus on what draws your attention and focus. You really get to connect and interact with the locals. I found this to be true on the India workshop.
The Bali workshop was my second Momenta trip and I already knew the leadership and can truly say that spending time with Jamie was an important consideration. Jamie is such a wonderful positive spirit and she motivates me to go the extra mile and to get out of my comfort zone. But the entire Momenta crew from top to bottom is excellent.
Again, as in India I enjoyed visiting local villages that were off the beaten path as well as the unstructured schedule that allowed you to pick and choose what you wanted to do. You could get up early for a pre-dawn excursion or work late in the golden and blue hour and then into the evening. There was no pressure – the pace and activities you wanted to participate in were mostly up to you. You could always opt out if you wanted to do post-editing or go in another direction.
One of my favorite experiences in Bali was where I was literally dropped off on a road side in the late afternoon and told to explore the rice fields and hamlets for a couple of hours on my own. And the one-on-one sessions with Jamie and Chris were also great exercises in developing a critical eye as to your own work.
2. What surprised you most about the location you visited or the experience of working with a nonprofit?
In India, I think it was the mixture of old and new; the density of people with everyone getting along; the colors and wonderful architecture and shops. Walking around the villages was what I enjoyed the most as you got to meet some really nice people. For example, I had several families invite me in for cold tea while I taking pictures.
In Bali, it was the religious ceremonies, culture and spirituality that I really enjoyed. We were taken to some private family events that you would never experience as a tourist. The hospitality of the locals was truly wonderful.
My last trip with Momenta was the Puerto Rico nonprofit workshop. As I couldn’t make up my mind as to which nonprofit to work with – Momenta allowed me to work with two nonprofits. Again, Momenta’s philosophy of giving you the tools you need to work with and then letting you take responsibility for your activates and work is what I enjoyed the most. I met with staff, planned my schedule and then got to work.
Jamie and Chris were there to help out with post-edits, instruction and to help troubleshoot anything that came up. The sense of comradery among the other workshop members also made it a memorable experience and I still stay in touch with a couple of the other participants. That’s true with all the workshops – there are several people I stay in touch with through Instagram, Facebook or texts.
3. What was the best lesson you took away from your workshop?
To be patient and let the moment come to you. To spend time in a good location and work it. If there’s a door – go inside. If there is a street – walk down it and into each store and to talk to the people. It makes the whole process a much more rewarding experience because when you connect with people they let you in and you can get the special shot.
4. What was your favorite photograph from this workshop & why?
In India, it was a portrait of a young performer who was dancing for tips while her father played the sitar. It was a beautiful moment that I caught during a pitstop. I loved the colors. The image resonates with me even today.
In Puerto Rico, it was some young ballet dancers who I followed and interacted with for several days and captured some moments when I was invisible to them.
In Bali, it was this shot of fire dancers running by me as they were running on to the stage (Kecak). I was unprepared and rushed the shot but was very happy with what I captured.
5. What would you tell a potential student to help them prepare for their experience with Momenta?
Worry less about the equipment and getting the perfect picture and focus on the experience and growth. There is no growth as a photographer without risk and going outside your comfort zone. It also helps to have an idea of what you want to improve upon in regard to your work and developing an eye for the decisive moment – whatever that may be for you.