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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau

looking At The World In A Different Way

I attended my first photo workshop in the fall of 2012. It was an eye opener in so many ways. Driving home I realized that I would never look at the world or my surroundings in the same way ever again. I would see light differently and I began to look for things around me that were less obvious but which had always been there had I taken the time to look. The first day of a photo workshop is usually an attempt to get your feet wet and feel comfortable in your new and, probably different, environment. New environments create new expectations of you naturally and the shots from the first day are usually just OK. Each of us takes so much of our life and our everyday surroundings so much for granted that we often miss the things that are always there. So the challenge the first day is just to try to find yourself and how to look at things in a different environment. When I began the photo apprenticeship program, my mentor very quickly informed me that I should not select the obvious, but should look for that which wasn't, but, when captured in a photo, would give a new and different perspective to others. I realize now that I have learned this lesson well. Our group of ten participants are not professional photographers. We are all here because we have a photography passion and we want to learn how to express it. We have had two critiques so far and while I certainly am not the "best in the class," I see in some of the submissions of others the sorts of images that I used to think were the way I wanted to show off my surroundings. I don't want to sound critical. In fact, I loved some of their images and their perspectives. But I can see that I have indeed done some growing as a photographer. Today we first went to the PEAS farm, which is a cooperative that gives the University of Montana students and local high school students the opportunity to learn good food sustainable farming techniques. I could easily have spent the day here. This was an environment in which I felt very comfortable, unlike the day before when we were trying to photograph the local 4-H kids and their animals. And the light was awesome...clear and no smoke. But the smoke did blow in this evening and our shoot at the Garden of 1000 Buddhas, which of course was about as different from a farm location as could be imagined, was sadly impacted by smoke from the western fires, resulting in no gorgeous sunset behind the mountains. The sun, in fact, just got eaten by smoke. But here, too, we were challenged to find the best of what the environment allowed us to have at that time. Our final assignment is to submit ten images that together create a story. Unexpectedly tonight I think I may have found mine. But, who knows? Tomorrow is another day and we will be back at the fair and then to a rodeo. Maybe I will find my assignment story there. And if I do, it will be because I am trying to look at the world in a different way from how I think others may be looking at it.

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