jose villa workshop experience

Finding Your Path. Defining Who You Are.

My heart is so full of love! I can't thank y'all enough for the overwhelming response to my Jose Villa workshop post.

But... I don't want to leave it at the images. I know a few of you want to know what ELSE happens at these workshops, especially meeting someone so inspiring like Jose Villa. It's going to have to be broken down into sections to make everything digestible :)

So where do we start? Simple:

// Finding Your Path.

The weekend before I left for Santa Barbara, I watched a workshop that Tamara Lackey was holding on Creative Live. Her first topic was "Define Who You Are." Only a few days later I was sitting at the Figueroa Farmhouse with Jose Villa and you know what Jose's first topic was? Finding Your Path.

> > Find. Define. Same thing. When you find your path, you can define it -- verbalize it. < <

Before I dive into ANY other topic Jose covered, I want to leave you with these set of questions Tamara posed to her audience. Read these, answer them for yourself. Then figure out how fast/easy/hard it was for you to answer them.

Ready? GO:

1) When these things (your role, profession, geography association) change -- who are you? (Hint: Skills, abilities, interests, talents, insights, beliefs.) No, seriously. Write these down.

2) Find your favorite photo. Answer this: What is the EXPRESSION of the composite? For me: romantic and playful.

3) What are you drawn to constantly and how did you grow up?

-Let me give you an example from the workshop. Jose Villa told us that he grew up around horses, ranches… organic elements and that he began applying this to his photography. Look at his images -- the pastels, the florals, the trees. I mean, his entire packaging was very simple -- clean whites, burlap, and very natural elements. Jose Villa chose "organic" to describe his photography. So how can YOU pick out a word from your upbringing, from your style aesthetic and apply this to YOUR photography?

4) What makes you go dead inside? For me, it's definitely forced composition.

5) What in you needs to be expressed? Don't you love this question?!

6) What have you always thought you could do - but haven't? For me it used to be video editing, but that's changing ;)

7) What are you really, really, really, really good at -- basically comes naturally? (Ex: writing, relating to kids, etc.)

8) If what you "should" do/say is A, what is B?

9) How much of you is a result of others' ideas about you? I posed this question on Facebook and my friend Jenn shared how being a "teacher's pet" or being in the "good kid" crowd influenced her personality and behaviors like being "afraid to try something new if [she] didn't succeed." I can see how this would hold Jenn back from taking risks in her business. As artists, I know we all experience anxiety over what people think. I battled this a lot and still have to fend those thoughts off.

But now it's about deeply understanding who you are because this will shape the message your photography sends (i.e. your branding!). The better we understand who we are, the less shakeable and more confident we become in our business. So get that part down cause branding is next :)

"Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got." -Janis Joplin

I don't think it's a coincidence that both of these successful photographers started their workshops with defining who THEY are first. Like Tamara said, "technical expertise is assumed. This makes it an EVEN playing field. So what's left? Your vision."

So why do we sometimes try and mold our vision around others'? Would love your thoughts! And thank you again, seriously, for your words. Y'all truly inspire me each day!

Los Olivos: A Jose Villa Workshop

... Honestly, I don't even know how to start this post. I've deleted the last 3 sentences(!).

Basically, I arrived -- insanely inspired -- and I left with the determination to craft beautiful images as, Jose Villa said, "an art director." But more on that later. First, I'd love to share my images with you.
One of the best experiences? Anna Spence letting me borrow her film camera to take one roll of film! With only 16 frames, I tried to choose wisely. Here are a few of my film photos:

And just so you know -- none of those are edited. None. It completely makes sense why so many are in love with film. Despite all of that, Brian from Richard Photo Lab reminded us that this is simply Jose Villa's medium and not the single way to make such beautiful art. But boy it's hard not to get so excited about it when you see the results.

The models were incredible. It was so hard for me to narrow these images down.

What breath taking styling. The florals, the props, the hair pieces, the dresses. Can I just take this crew home?
I love couples, I really, really, really do. But I was definitely in my element with this model. She took direction and just RAN with it. Took it to another level. When I asked her to slowly drop her bolero, she immediately connected the action to an emotion.

None of this could have been possible without these inspiring vendors:
Figueroa Farm House, Jose Villa Workshops, Jill La Fleur, Mar of TEAM Hair and Makeup, Joel Serrato, Kate of Flower Wild Design, Found Rental, James Cagle - Accountant, Cypress Albums, Fuji Film, Richard Photo Lab, Invitation Suite: Ceci New York, Hair Pieces: Mignonne Handmade, Dresses: BHLDN, Cake: Maggie Austin, Napkins: La Tavola Linens, Calligraphy: Chelsea Petaja.

I didn't only take photos -- I also took notes. Lots of them. I'll be sharing those later :) Thank you for letting me share this dream goal with you all.

I'm home...

Haven't quite collected my thoughts from my Santa Barbara trip. Or even unpacked my luggage.

But as soon as Jose (my husband -- haha, not the photographer Jose Villa) brought me home, I made him close his eyes and I unpacked everything I received from the workshop. Acting like Christmas Eve, I had him open his eyes and I revealed each gift, one by one. Film rolls, prints, notepads, books, and other burlap-wrapped goodies. He asked me questions ... tons of questions. We ate chocolate, hand picked cherries, and Danish cookies. And before we knew it, it was almost 1 a.m.

I basically passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow, and for the first time did not hear ANY of Jose's alarms go off this morning. As I look around at all of the beautiful items I came home with from Jose Villa's workshop, I dream that one day I'll be staying up late making these crazy, detailed gifts for my own workshop attendees. That they too come home to their spouse, heart over the moon with goals and inspiration and plans for their own business. And if they're really lucky, their spouse will listen intently the entire night, careless of the hours, dreaming with them :)