I had no idea when I signed up exactly what Camp would be like. I knew it would involve photography and that was fine with me. My husband is a fine art nature photographer and has been encouraging me to really work on my own photography. In the past year he's given me the gift of an amazing photography book, an online class by the wonderful and encouraging Irene Nam, other online classes, and even his extra camera equipment. I thought this would be a great way to learn new things and become a better photographer. So, for months I eagerly looked forward to October 16th--the DAY. In the meantime, Tracy Clark added me to the "secret" FaceBook page for all the Campers. I got to "know" a few gals by name on that page, exchanged a few pleasantries, and made comments but nothing of any real depth. Everything was going great. My anticipation was mounting and Camp was becoming more and more of a reality.
Then without warning all the insecurities of life seemed to jump out at me in the week or two before Camp...yikes! What in the world was I thinking joining nearly 70 other women NONE OF WHOM I KNEW in person and only a few by name (and often not even their real name) online. I'm sure my kids thought I was nuts. My husband asked me if I was scared. Some of my in-real-life friends just smiled and said, "well, that sounds fun". My bravado really kicked in. "Yes, I really want to go", "NO...I'm not scared" I told friends and family and myself. In reality, I was terrified. Would the other women think I was a poser. A wannabe photographer who had only her husband's hand me down, albeit very nice, gear and no idea what it all could really do. I was afraid to actually try to take a picture in front of anyone for fear I be quizzed on what settings I used: what aperture? what iso? WHY was I taking of picture of THAT! I was overwhelmed to say the least.
Then I arrived. Checked-in. Met Tracy Clark. I was at Camp. It was real.
The hardest step is always the first...and milling about with nearly 70 other women, chatting it up while waiting for the evening to begin was hard. I didn't really know anyone and small talk is not my forte. Yet, it was the start to a wonderful, meaningful 3 days.
Lest you think I am going to bore you with each day's details, fear not. I won't. I can't. There are no words.
It was more than a retreat. It was more than the photography. It was amazing. Empowering. Permission giving. I met women who loved photography. And women who really didn't care where I got my camera equipment. Women who kindly, graciously helped me with my settings. Who encouraged me, the NOVICE, with her photography. Who liked me for ME (and who laughed with me about my curly hair getting curlier and curlier by the minute)! In the words of another camper, it was an "epic gathering of kindred spirits".
Camp was all I expected and nothing I expected. It refreshed me, renewed me, and gave me a gift. The gift of stepping out of my comfort zone and realizing I can do this thing called Photography. Camp changed me. And I'm glad.