March has really rocked my world, both professionally and personally. I have so much to share that I think I have to break it up into parts. Earlier this month I attended WPPI (Wedding, Portrait Professionals International) in Las Vegas. I was really excited about it. How can I not be excited (and a little intimidated) meeting up with about 14,000 photographers from all over the world? The convention coincided with my sister Maria’s birthday and also the 2nd anniversary of my father’s death. I knew that I needed and wanted to do something special to commemorate them, especially my father. So when I saw that Jesh de Rox announced that he was going to be doing his ‘Upward Spiral’ event, not knowing exactly what it was but knowing it would be special, I changed my flight and hoped I could find a place to crash that night.
Well, I have to say that making that last minute change was one of the best decisions I made in a long time. I had never met Jesh but knew his philosophy of life through his twitter/fb posts so I was excited to meet him. And wow, what a way to meet him. His event was an interactive concert. Him telling stories, playing music, and challenging us to explore what holds us back from living & loving fully in the NOW without any caveats. He had us draw our fears/what holds us back, he had us wish the hardest and most sincere wish we could ever for our neighbor to to let go of those fears, he had us sing like no one & everyone was listening, and laugh and be human with each other. All of this surrounded with his lovely voice and original music. And all of this building up to one of the last experiments.
Photo by John Michael Cooper
He had us partner up with someone near us, a stranger, look into each other’s eyes and say, ‘you are not alone’ to each other. Each time saying it in slightly different ways. It was incredible how deep it was to sincerely look into someone’s eyes and say this. Really mean it. Really feel it. Really accept it. Even more incredible was how a slight inflection, change in spacing, in emphasis, in softness can change the impact of the message. It was a lesson in being present, in letting go of fear, in language, in love, in community, in being human. I was lucky enough to do this experiment with Jesh. This is how I met him for the first time.
Photo by John Michael Cooper
So this is what set the tone for me for WPPI. I felt love and accepted and more calm because of it. In a sea of 14,000 people it is ironic that you can feel alone, isolated, a newbie who doesn’t get invited to all the parties or dinners. Yes, it can feel a little like high school. But with this amazing experience I was able to just relax and be in the moment and enjoy my first WPPI experience. Not worry about what others are doing and be present with the people I was with. Just talking to Jesh was a good lesson in being there. Being locked in. Even after the concert, he hung around and talked and loved people. And even though there were tons of people waiting and wanting to speak with him, he never looked away. He never lost connection. He was locked in and engaged no matter what was happening around him. He makes you feel special. He made me feel special. I am so lucky to have meet a new friend, Lucia Castaneda, who was also there at the concert and took these 2 photos of me and Jesh just talking. And we talked for a while. We talked about music, singing, the lose of my father (well, just the physical lose, we are still connected)… it was amazing!
Photos by Lucia Castaneda
Can I tell you?!… I”m also majority excited about his Beloved project and how he’s applying this philosophy of life to photography and helping couples reconnect and make their love even stronger. More on that later.
Oh, and I _did_ find a place to crash that night. Not only did I meet Lucia, but I also met Kirsten Lewis. Wow, what another twist of fate! She’s an amazing photographer and person with a super contagious smile and laugh. She got me excited about The Foundation Workshop and so much more. I could go on and on about her and her friends that I also met, Kathryn, Oliva & Beth but I will stop there. Just know that they are good people and I feel so grateful to have met them! :) Wow! This was only day #1 and I was already flying high. :)
Big thanks to John Michael & Dalisa Cooper of altF for opening up their rocking studio for this fantastic event to happen