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SO much to share about my time in Canada and teaching at Finding Stillness – a workshop with my dearest friend Kim Klassen.

First a little back story.

Just before we said goodbye to everyone at our last retreat Gather California, in November 2014… Kim said she knew what she wanted in the future. A space to create… A studio for her to work in and maybe, just maybe, have people come and be creative there.

Her intention seemed heartfelt and sincere, but I wasn’t sure if she was caught up in the emotions, that being on a retreat can bring.

Fast forward just a few weeks to December 2014 and Kim’s intention seemed to be manifesting. A space had presented itself. It was exactly as she had envisioned. Yes, it needed A LOT of work but the potential was “beyond” what you could imagine.

2015 has been all consuming for Kim and her family, all hands on deck to turn the vision in her head, into a reality. It’s not been easy, but nothing worth doing is plain sailing… Gutting and rebuilding takes its toll, you can’t magic a “Pinterest” worthy studio out of thin air – it takes time, care and dedication.

While all the renovations were happening, we would chat together about the first workshop that would happen in her new studio…

Creating a date for a workshop would mean a deadline to get things ready. So Kim invited her online students to attend a small inimate workshop in this new studio… People dived right in!. Now I must remind you – Kim lives in Rivers, Manitoba… slap bang in the middle of Canada – not an easy place to get to – committing to her workshop meant at least a day travel for anyone.

But it was worth every moment of travelling to get there I tell you.

The space she has created is MAGIC – white, light and full of details and beautiful “bits & bobs” – or props as she calls them, but actually it’s pretty much like a beautiful home, that you could actually live in, but with space to move things around and no clutter or “real life living” getting in your way. I was blown away by what had been achieved.

So onto the workshop… pretty much, three days of photography play with lovely ladies who are clearly passionate about creating.

A loose schedule of shooting projects and ideas. Sometimes a set up would be lead by Kim and then everyone would potter around, gathering props and setting up their own vignettes.

Together we taught the technical side of photography – Kim and I helped people go manual with their cameras, talked lenses and camera bodies, how to move focus points and we converted everyone to back button focus!

There was understanding what makes a good “top down” photo by Barb, using lights with Carol and I shared the patience needed to make a stop motion – I finally got my hands on Kim’s incredible scissor collection!

But it wasn’t all about the technical or “how to” stuff… it was just about creating… quietly.

Everyday there was “Stillness Hour” – one hour of silence to work or rest as you desired. People would shoot, some read, others found peace in editing photos. It was blissful… especially when Aeleen played her harp on the last day.

A few other highlights…

The dawn walk on the trail through dew covered grass and spiders webs shimmering… The heavy mist slowly made way for bright sunshine and fresh crisp air that makes you feel happy to be alive…

The photo collaborations and connections… people working together to create beautiful photos… posing for each other & adding a human touch into their still life photos… and every morning we would chat about our favourite photos taken the previous day.

So much support and encouragement.

I loved exploring Rivers – the sleepy town full of quirky individual houses, it was so different to anywhere I’ve ever been before. Kim laughed so much at the houses I chose to photograph…

And finally – the techincolour lunch prepared and served by Ilsa… initially we snapped the gorgeous ingredients and then devoured the deliciousness of fresh salads and handmade pizzas. YUM!

So much more happened that didn’t get documented… It’s the type of event that needs to be experienced because it’s more than just taking photos – it’s about connection with people who get this creative life, it’s about learning together and encouraging each other… and declaring our intentions for new projects and dreams we’d like to make happen to expand our creativity and life…

Anything is possible – just look at what Kim has made happen in less than a year.

Once the workshop was wrapped up…

I had a few extra days to work with Kim on our new online class – STILL PERSPECTIVES : We’re so excited about sharing this with everyone – stay tuned!

P.s… I met brilliant Ben and he really is the most adorable dog I’ve had the pleasure to hang out with.

Photos captured on Canon 5D mIII and iPhone 5s


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