I've been struggling a bit over what to say about the Close to Home workshop in Port Townsend this past weekend. As both a learner and a teacher, I've always felt that workshops like these are about the students and not the instructor(s), but I've had several people ask me how I felt the workshop went, so I thought I'd give you my take on it.
Admittedly, I was nervous. About a lot of things, really. It was, after all, the first Close to Home workshop and the first workshop I'd ever led. As with the book, I was about 80% excited and 20% terrified. Most of all, though, I was worried that it would be flat—an adequate workshop, but without the kind of dynamic interaction that I've experienced at the Italy Within the Frame workshop and at the Artists' Round Table.
To counter this, I wrote little notes to myself, planting some of them in my initial presentation and afterward sending myself electronic reminders—all to say, "Keep focused on the students. It's their workshop, not yours." And I think it worked.
Now before you think I'm patting myself on the back, the real credit for making it work belongs to the students themselves. Sure, Ray and I spent a lot of time planning and pulling off this workshop and I don't discount that, but it would have never happened at all without Dorothy, Franz, Duncan, Don, Mike, Daniel, Cami, Ellie, Sabrina, and Eligis. The greatest reward a teacher can have is to see his students focused on and excited about their work and these folks gave me that in spades—along with some pretty amazing work.
(There's a Flickr group where I hope they will eventually share their work with you. It's at http://www.flickr.com/groups/cthpt if you'd like to take a peek.)
I'd also like to again thank our terrific sponsors: Craft and Vision, ThinkTANK Photo, OnOneSoftware, Luma Labs, and Laura Shoe for their generous support of this initial effort. I hope to work with all of you again in the future.
Also, of course, my sincere gratitude to Ray Ketcham for co-hosting the workshop with me. As our students found out, Ray is a terrific teacher and a special guy to know (and that a clipboard and a hard hat from Walmart might get you access to a few places).
Finally, though she won't want me to single her out, I'm also especially grateful to Sabrina Henry for doing a lot of the legwork in organizing this workshop and trying her best to keep Ray and I on track, which as anyone who knows us will tell you is a nearly impossible task.
There are things I can do better… and I will. There will be more of these in other places and with a different people. But this one will always hold a special place for me as the one where ten people took a chance on learning something from me. I'm grateful for that.
So keep an eye out here and the rest of the Internets for future versions of the workshop. I hope you'll consider coming to one sometime when I'm close to your home.