As we continue our travels, Canada seems to be the destination of choice for us this year. We loved visiting a warm Winnipeg in April, and we were sure that Edmonton would grace us with the same type of weather surprise. And it did, but not with the warmth we saw in Winnipeg. Nope, it snowed.
A lot of snow.
At least the snow began to fall on the second day, and we got to experience some sunshine on the first! Needless to say, it through our plans for shooting outside for a loop and we were forced to improvise.
But I digress – the snow had me completely discombobulated. We were in Edmonton this week for a three day Bebbinar. We have never really taken the full program on the road in Canada before and we were excited to get started. We took our entire program apart and, based on the feedback from past attendees, revamped it for 2010. The Edmonton class would be the first to see everything we had worked on.
As always, we were humbled and amazed by the photographers who joined us this week. Some were multi-year veterans while others were just getting started. But all were struggling in many of the same ways. We asked our group before hand about their struggles and were surprised at just how many of them were similar. And it made planning the Bebbinar a different experience this time – never before have we had a group with so much in common.
A Bebbinar is not about us. Steve and I can stand in front of a group and talk forever, but the real impact comes with interaction and understanding, with hard work and inquisitiveness, with open hearts and open minds. And one of the most important things we need to make a Bebbinar a resounding success is trust – the trust of our students in us, and our trust in them.
This group, the first class of 2010, is going to be big! No joke – expect big things because they are going places! If they implement even half of what we worked on with them, it will be unbelievable to see.
We started the first day with an easy question – who are you? And from there we just kept moving, working on questions that got more and more difficult, shaking out the pain as their hands began to hurt from writing so much. Day One is tough – it’s all about figuring out some of the big things, the things we should all know, the things that allow us to define the direction we want to go and the success we want to have. There was definitely a lot of laughter, and maybe even some tears. But we persevered and made it through together, and we celebrated over dinner that night.
As Tuesday dawned, the snow was upon us! Steve and I spent far too much time staring out the window at the unbelievable sight of snow falling in May. Driving was tough, and it meant that we got a bit of a late start. But that was alright – it was shooting day!
If you know anything about a Bebbinar, you know it’s never about the shooting. But the shoot is a way that we can work with our class to challenge what they are already doing, and facilitate growth in a new or different direction. For some the challenge is in using natural (believable) light. For others, the challenge is flash or video light. Still others struggle to find their voice and use this opportunity to take new risks. Others merely watch and learn from what their classmates do. All, though, shoot something, in some way, they never have before. And all images are submitted SOOC. No photoshop, no lightroom, nothing. We want to see the images as they are made in camera.
We give ourselves the same challenge – to show work SOOC. That being said, we don’t shoot as much as we should since we are too busy working with the students to make images for ourselves. And really, as teachers, our job is not to make photos for our own use, but to help our students push their boundaries and limits. So we shoot just a little, in an effort to demonstrate concepts and ideas, observing our students as they take the lead in turn, pushing themselves.
With the reward of photography complete, it was back to the work books and some questions that, on occasion, stumped the entire group. It challenged us as well, as our students sought to understand and we sought to explain in a different way. We learned from them, as they are completely different than every other group we have had, and that learning was something incredibly welcome for us.
The final day is spent taking everything to that point and wrapping it up in a pretty bow. We make an action plan of sorts as we determine how to move forward in our businesses. Nothing is left unsaid, all questions are answered, and we leave them to now fly on their own. It’s bittersweet for us, letting them go, after spending three very intense days together. We know that we have armed them with the tools to soar, and that each of them will be a success, but we are sad to leave new friends we won’t see again for a time.
But then we come home, to a welcome of warm hugs and sloppy kisses from the children we wake to hold tight. Today our youngest surprised us with breakfast in bed, tears in his eyes, denying that he missed us as he snuggled closer all the while. Our oldest jumped into bed with us soon after, sharing his week so far, and his plans for the day. They reminded us, again, why we do what we do…and why we work so hard for our time with them. And while we love what we do outside our home – every moment of it – we love what is between our walls even more.
So, thank you, to the wonderful people who shared their lives with us this week. You each brought something so wonderful to the group and we are certain you will all find the right path to walk. And thank you for sending us home, full of joy and satisfaction, to our boys.