It's the end of Spring so that means that it's Palm Springs Photo Festival time again! So much happened that my post is a little later than normal. I worked with the incomparable Keith Carter this year, there was a wolf, lots of beautiful models, portfolio reviews, late night lectures and parties, and, it makes me emotional even to type this, the last talk given by Mary Ellen Mark.
Mary Ellen gave a moving talk on Wednesday night of the festival. She showed a greatest hits slideshow of her work which was powerful and moving. I've been a huge fan for a long time, but this is only the second time I've gotten to see her speak in public. The crowd gave her a well-deserved roaring standing ovation when she finished. She was clearly ill, and her heroic efforts to continue to teach her workshop, speak on a panel, and then stay up to 10pm to give the late night evening presentation were truly admirable. This was a woman who cared passionately about her craft and about the field of photography. She was a trailblazer for women photographers and she will be missed.
Onto a much lighter topic, the workshop with Keith! Often times workshop instructors are great artists, but they're not great at teaching. With Keith there was the magical combination of him being both an exquisite image maker AND an articulate teacher. He had many helpful creative exercises, showed work by interesting photographers that I had never heard of, and he had thoughtful insights about everyones work.
We started the week with a little class time at the Korakia Pensione in the morning of day one. Then moved onto a mini shooting session at a hip private home in Palm Springs, followed by a critique of attendee work, and finally a quick trip to the thrift store to pick up props for the rest of the week.
Day 2 we went to the spectacular Blue Ranch, an in-city horse ranch in the middle of Palm Springs. We had three lovely models, a couple of horses, and a wolf (!!!) to photograph and work with as subjects. Although I was there to assist with the organizational part of the festival, with scenery like this I had to make some images of my own--especially since Canon loaned me a 5d Mark iii plus the AWESOME 85mm 1.2! I want it! It was very hard to give back that lens and I've been pining for it ever since.
Day 3 we went out to Indian Canyon. In all of my years going out to Palm Springs with the festival it was my first time at Indian Canyon. It's like this little oasis just a few miles out of town with groves of palms and a trickling stream running through it. It was very cool and I will be back! We had a big group this year (see below) but the last few years I've gotten very lucky with low maintenance attendees which makes my job so much easier!
The festival is a very intimate experience and there are workshops are going on all around the Korakia Hotel. I got a sneak peek at Ian Ruhter's wet plate workshop in action using his massive camera. Such a cool process to watch! Also, look at that focus on the 85 1.2, daaaaamn!
The week is filled with long, sometimes challenging days with little sleep and a fair amount of stressful moments. It's also probably my favorite week of the year. That is in no small part thanks to the many great friends that I have because of the festival. I am grateful every year they come back and we get to hang out in the desert together. I get to see their careers grow and our bonds of friendship are renewed each spring. It's a very special thing.
Until next year...