Marisa White — Texas
Course: Summer Intensive 2012
It's May 22nd, exactly 2 weeks away from my summer adventure in Missoula, Montana at the Rocky Mountain
School of Photography. Well exactly 1 week, 5 Days, 23 hours, 14 minutes and 57...56...55...seconds as
our countdown screams on the Career Training Bulletin Board. I registered back in February so you can only
imagine my anticipation as the time keeps ticking away closer and closer to zero. Like a time bomb indicating
the end of my current state of existence. I currently reside in a limbo of sorts having sold my business and
eagerly awaiting for summer's arrival like a child waiting for Christmas. I once read that Florence (+ The Machine)
wrote the Dog Days are Over to signify the end of her dog walking days as fame quickly consumed her and took
her away into the music world in one fell swoop. I don't know if that's true (probably not) but I smile at the
idea. (I'm sure most songs are designed in mind to personalize and internalize and make it your own. Plus it was
written on lyricsfreak.com so I clearly question any credence to the validity, but I digress.) With that being
said, I relish in the notion that we'll all quickly be consumed by a new beginning, by lenses (and lens envy),
snap, clicks, and pops, the dance of light across the land and learning how to truly see. Leaving those dog days
behind us and jumping head first into photography. They don't call it Summer Intensive for nothing.
I have to admit that I am falling prey to a mix of emotions. Everything from pure excitement, anxiety, nausea and
a little fear. Perhaps it's the fear of the unknown. The notion of leaving everyone and everything I love behind
for three and a half months to pursue a dream. Traveling across the globe to a place I've never been - 2,000 miles
from home. Fear that however good I might think I am, I might pale in comparison to some rock star student who I'll
openly admire and secretly loathe with envy. Will I ever be that good? Will these foreign concepts resonate quickly
and hold captive deep in my grey matter? Self-doubt trickles despite my biggest efforts to keep it at bay. (I owned
and sold a business for God sakes!) But then I think about the absolute joy I get when I put the camera up to my
face and start shooting. How I love capturing the perfect emotion on someone's face or that special way the light
travels through the trees and casts gold upon the grass. Oh and color! How it vividly bursts out at you, demanding,
no, commanding your attention in brilliant shades and in the most unpredictable places. That's when I realize that
this is what I was meant to do.
It's been a dream in the making for the last ten years after my first photography workshop with my father in Austin,
Texas. All this time that's what it was; just a dream. There was always an excuse as to why it couldn't be a reality.
I don't have enough money. How would I survive without a paycheck? It's in Montana, am I crazy? (It's bear country
up there and freakin' cold!) And my favorite excuse, maybe in a different life with different circumstances. But I
find is that what we regret most are the chances we never took. Reminds me of a quote: "And in the end, it's not the
years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." by Abraham Lincoln. Aptly put. Life is way too short
to stay in one place and not do what we love. So I say, better late than never.
Now choosing to think on the bright side and focus on that excitement I hope to accomplish a great many things. I
want to know my camera and all my equipment inside and out. I want to master the art of output and creating beautiful
prints because as I see it, the computer hijacking and holding all digital images hostage is the greatest travesty to
this kind of creative expression. I want to learn how to see. See creatively. See light. See the littlest details.
See what others take for granted. See moments. I hope to come away with a clearer idea of the kind of photography I'd
like to focus on professionally and be open-minded enough to accept that it might be different than what I originally
anticipated. And most importantly, I want to be able to look at a scene, know in my head exactly how I want it to look
and instinctively pick up my camera and create that image. I want it to be second nature. Like driving my manual
transmission. I also hope that after it's all said and done, that I have a network of new friends that I can call upon
for ideas and inspiration. That after we've put all our blood, sweat, and tears into this experience, that we'll forever
be tied by this life changing adventure.
I've crossed off one more item on my checklist today. I near closer to the day I pack up the car with my dearest love,
Capt. Awesome, by my side, for a long road trip across the Rockies to my new home for the summer. Sometimes we all need
a little push in the right direction. Without his love, encouragement and selflessness, I might not be making this
journey. So I have him to thank for that swift kick in the pants to pursue (a dream) my new reality, for his belief in
me, and his unquestioning devotion. He'll pick me up in September to bring me back home to Texas.
This is all a leap of faith into the unknown. But I can see that wave of light beckoning from a distance and it's time
to dance in it, with arms spread and eyes wide open.
Much love to my husband, my family and friends.
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." T.S. Eliot.
It's really hard to put the magnitude of the last 11 weeks into writing. I came here, left my family behind to learn the
ins and outs of photography, but I came away with so much more than that.
My goals were simple: to master output, to learn how to see, to be open to new opportunities and to feel like my camera
is an extension of my body. Okay, so maybe those aren't so simple tasks, but I believe what I've come away with is...that
this is a lifelong journey with my new love affair called photography. While I haven't completely mastered output, I know
there's a reason why my prints are darker than my screen and how to make the necessary adjustments. I've learned to see the
subtleties in the shifting light of the day and how quickly light falls off the subject in the studio. And a day that I
haven't picked up my camera and clicked the shutter at least once is a bad day. A day I'll never get back. So it's a good
start. One that will not end once I leave Missoula and head back home.
My final goal was to end up with a lifelong list of friends that I can call upon for ideas, motivation and inspiration. All
I can say is it's incredible how easily friendships develop in such an environment where everyone has the same passion, where
everyone wants to learn, to improve and grow. I have welcomed the variety in thoughts and ideas; and I believe working around
so many others with fresh perspectives has greatly improved my own photography.
What was unexpected: new confidence. I look back at where I started and where I stand now and can already see vast improvement
in my own work. I've already begun brainstorming ways I can tackle this new career once I set foot back in Texas. It still
causes a bit of anxiety, but I've been assured this is very normal! But it's also exciting to realize that this doesn't have
to be a dream anymore.
It's been an amazing summer. One I won't soon forget. Thank you to Neil and Jeanne for opening up their school to us. Their
kind nature and warm smiles have fostered a wonderful learning environment and a place where we are not only a community of
photographers, but a family.
Now on to professional studies...