Photography, for me, in the last two years has shifted from hobbyist to professional. Visual Arts has always been "my thing." I crave it. My mind sometimes won't shut off because I have creative ideas swirling around in my head. I've been to many art museums and have personally seen the works of Picasso, Monet, Vermeer, Salvadore Dali, Warhol, and the list could go on. I have yet to see any works from DaVinci, but one day I certainly will. DaVinci-type humans are born with a gift to create, but even as gifted as DaVinci was, he had teachers who helped him craft his talent. Once DaVinci had learned all that he could during his formative years, he then moved to Florence, Italy specifically to immerse himself among other creatives. It was while in Florence that DaVinci painted the Mona Lisa.
Comparing my creative abilities to DaVinci is about like comparing a flea to an elephant (of course it should be obvious that I'm the flea in this analogy!). The point here is not about me or DaVinci, but about the course of action one takes to be really good at his or her passion. Who will help you become your best? Where will you have to go to meet the right people? How far might you have to travel?
Three months ago a friend asked me to accompany her to a meeting at the Atlanta Photographer's Guild. It was January. It was cold. We arrived at The Goat Farm in downtown Atlanta in the dark. We had no idea where to park or even which building to enter. Neither of us is shy, so we asked strangers where to go, how to get into the building (there are numerous exterior doors in this old cotton factory), but we eventually found our way to the second floor of the studios that make up the Atlanta Photographer's Guild. What she and I experienced our first night at the APG was nothing short of exciting! Imagine three studios, four lovely models, forty like-minded photographers, three hours of photo shoots, and the best part - professional photographers on hand to graciously teach each of us how to raise our photography skills to another level. I returned to the February meeting where the theme was chiaroscuro (think Rembrandt and his style of painting) with the concept of light and dark to create sharp contrasts. And, just this week I returned to APG for the March meet-up... a vintage photo shoot. Now, one would think that my photography coursework in college (gasp...the days of film), my recent coursework in Professional Digital Photography at UNG, my attendance in January to the annual Professional Photographers Association convention in Nashville, and the many resources I follow online would suffice in my continuing education, but these are only pieces to who I want to be as a photographer. It is the human capital, the human interactions, the hands-on experiences, the pros by my side, and the friends I'm making that make the Atlanta Photographers Guild an invaluable part of my professional journey as a photographer. And perhaps that is why DaVinci moved to Florence.