Last month I drove down the California coast with my dear friends Lisa and Geoff to a camp ground just North of Santa Barbara nestled in the hills across the highway from the Pacific. We were there not for the camping trips our families are known to take together. We were there for Photo Field Trip. A photography convention of sorts – but without much conventioning. Got it? Good. I had been planning this trip for months, but almost didn’t make it to the rolling hills dotted with cabins and tents and yurts. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to take the time away, I wasn’t sure I could make it happen. Geoff made sure if happened. He all but packed my bags and threw me in the car. “You need to do this, Sarah.” He kept telling me that. I kept not listening. I kept making excuses. And then I went anyway. I walked into that camp like an open wound trying to disguise itself as a beauty mark. But soon the disguise was sluffed, and the people around me – strangers with cameras and incredible intentions – supplied me with balm and band-aids. The first night, in the very first class I sat in the front row and cried and shook my head. I was hopelessly defeated. My instructor knelt down in front of me and hugged me while the class watched. Then over the course of hours and days the weight I was carrying, the unbearable hopelessness, started to get lifted – it was shouldered by the strangers who stopped me and talked to me, who became friends and partners. And as the weight got lighter, the changes started becoming apparent and I started to move forward. My wounded heart was already cracked open, suddenly it was filled. Suddenly it was healing. Geoff was right. I did need this. For four and half days I sat with people who have the same job I do but do it in different ways. I learned from people who were there to teach. I learned from people who were there to listen. I soaked it up. Truths got burned into my brain. “Fucking follow your bliss!” I was told. “What is the thing holding you back?” I was asked. “Just commit! You’re never going to have the time and it’s never going to be the right time. DO IT!” I was challenged. And so I did.
Thank you beautiful friends! Thank you Santa Barbara! Thank you Photo Field Trip. Now, I’m off to follow my bliss and make some damn fine photos.