Focus on the Story 2019

Every year I try to attend a workshop or dedicate a few consecutive days exclusively to photography. Last week, I was in Washington, DC where I attended Focus on the Story . All I can say is wow. I left the conference inspired just wanting to make stories with my camera, especially around my family.

Ruddy Roye onstage dropping knowledge with Ibarionex Perello.

Ruddy Roye onstage dropping knowledge with Ibarionex Perello.

What I really enjoyed about this conference was just like it’s name “Focus on the Story” did just that…focused on the story. There was no talk of gear, f-stops or megapixels, just photo makers talking about storytelling. What attracted me to this conference was the diversity of speakers, check ‘em out. If you’d let history tell it, only middle aged white dudes picked up the camera. It was so refreshing to hear diverse perspectives on what motivated these photographers to chose what stories to tell and how.

Patrick Brown discussing his project “No Place on Earth,” documenting the plight of the Rohingya.

Patrick Brown discussing his project “No Place on Earth,” documenting the plight of the Rohingya.

The highlights for me were Ruddy Roye and Gulnara Samoilova both sharing deeply personal stories about how the camera became a companion rather then just a tool. As a fairly new father myself they really resonated with me because Ruddy spoke about the importance of being a father to his two boys and Gulnara talked about how she suffered a miscarriage days after 9/11 when she fell after running from the towers as they were coming down…camera in hand. Both were deeply moving talks where my eyes welled up more than once as their photos were projected on screen and the passion of their voices offering a narrative as if they were in a confessional. Thank you Ruddy and Gulnara for sharing. These two talks alone were worth the price of admission in my book.

Lucian Perkins formerly of the Washington Post discussing his favorite photo series over the years and how technology is changing visual story

Lucian Perkins formerly of the Washington Post discussing his favorite photo series over the years and how technology is changing visual story

It was surreal to see Ibarionex Perello moderating panels and sitting in the audience. I’ve been listening to his podcast The Candid Frame forever. I love his thoughtful analysis on photography and he really has a passion for education.

Ibarionex Perello moderates a panel on Mental Health - Behind and in front of the camera. Panelist included Ruddy Roye, Sheila Pree Bright and Michael McCoy.

Ibarionex Perello moderates a panel on Mental Health - Behind and in front of the camera. Panelist included Ruddy Roye, Sheila Pree Bright and Michael McCoy.

Will I be attending Focus on the Story next year? Ya’ damn right, it’s already on my calendar.

Stay shootin’

Three days worth of notes for a lifetime of inspiration.

Three days worth of notes for a lifetime of inspiration.