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Monthly Archives // July 2009

Snapshot Studio debuts at Roots

post written on 31 Jul 09 in Sponsors

Snapshot Studio is the brainchild of Roots mentor and longtime friend Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images in Columbia, Maryland. She’s engineered a portable studio set-up for self-portraits for use at the weddings she photographs, and now for purchase by professional photographers! She was kind enough to sponsor a happy hour on our celebration Thursday at Roots Workshop. After a few Cape Codders, we were all happy to hop in the booth and snap away. For more information on this party in a bag, check out Jenn’s blog here.

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Roots ’09 slideshow

post written on 31 Jul 09 in While on the Cape

Last week you were treated to Eric Laurits’ comedic commentary that accompanied his photos as official photographer of the Roots Workshop. You therefore also likely read that he presented those images on our final celebration night with an original tune, right? Well, folks, you’re in for a treat. Eric has recorded that song!! Check out the slideshow below, and turn up your speakers loudly as I present to you Eric’s view of Roots. This brings me right back, as I know it will everyone else who attended. And for those of you who are considering Roots ’10, I hope this is a sweet peek of what you might expect!

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Roots student portfolio: Audra Bayette

post written on 29 Jul 09 in Student portfolios

When I think of Audra, I giggle without prompting. She’s fun and goofy and lights up a room with her sing-songy happy spirit. She’s also one of the most disciplined women I know, dedicated 100% to every slice of life: her house (where she has more garden square footage than she does living room), her family (she left Roots on Friday to scoot home to attend her niece’s graduation from camp. How cute is that?), her health (she’s dropped serious weight in a very little time, and while at Roots managed to run 3 mornings even with the 4 hours average sleep we all were getting!), photography (Audra recently bit the bullet and is opening a studio!), and her sweet boyfriend Matt.

So while we’re on Matt, I’ve got to explain that he was the one who first approached me about Audra attending the Roots Workshop. An email from February read: “I’m trying to convince my girlfriend to take this workshop. She has been shooting weddings for a couple years and is slowly building a business. Can you please send me a registration form so I can try and twist her arm with it. Thank you.” So I replied with some info, and he thanked me, noting: “All I ask is that you please please please don’t contact her until she reaches out to you. If she finds out I went behind her back like this neither of us will be seeing her at all this July!!!” Ha. A few weeks later I received a go-ahead response that she had been convinced. What a guy!

Audra’s assignment was to cover Four Seas, a Cape Cod institution and one of the country’s oldest ice cream parlors. In true Audra style, she was thrilled to bits and couldn’t wait to get started. With that classic positive spirit in tact, she endured long hours (and some serious willpower) seeking angles, moments, light and laughter (or not) to tell the story of Four Seas. And each night, she returned home with pints of ice cream to share with all of us. Yum!

In Audra’s words:
“The experience changed my life. I look at images differently now. I don’t take pictures now – I make pictures. I look at my relationships with other photographers and people differently. I understand my role better. I know what it is like to be changed and influenced by great people and this was one of those times.”

Click here to read more of Audra’s moving account of the week on her blog. What she didn’t share in her post is that she was also crowned the Roots Workshop ’09 Chubby Bunny champ during our Thursday night party, but we’ll refrain from sharing the evidence on the blogosphere and leave that imagery up to your imagination. Instead, I’ll let you hear a glimpse of her silliness on this voicemail that she and fellow Roots student Christina left yesterday:

And so I present to you the finished product. Enjoy Audra’s take on ice cream below! Special thanks to workshop sponsor Triple Scoop Music for providing all of the slideshow tunes!

Roots Workshop: Audra Bayette at Four Seas Ice Cream from emilie sommer on Vimeo.

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Roots '09 reflections

post written on 29 Jul 09 in While on the Cape

I’ve been staring at a blinking cursor for an hour trying to come up with how I can accurately explain the effect Roots Workshop has had on me in the last week. And while the words have been slow to form, the tears have been quick to flow. It was that emotional and deep and life changing.

Hosting a workshop is no easy task. When the idea of Roots was hatched two years ago, I was almost certain it would be a one-time thing. But riding a post- week high that can only be compared to summer camp, I breezily agreed to a return when positive feedback made it nearly impossible not to.

Between then and now, however, the economy tanked and it was a year that many photographers chose to invest in gear and not workshops. With a little more than half of the students enrolled as I had hoped, the staff decided that we should continue anyway (but made the sad decision to merge three teams to two, thus cutting team leader and my first newspaper boss, Arnold Miller). Coming from DC, Atlanta and even Kansas City, this talented dream team sacrificed their precious time to give of themselves to this experience. Their love and dedication to share with others what was once given to them is beyond humbling, and I am so ridiculously honored to have such great friends. Greg, Tyler, Jenn, Mark, Rachel, Eric and my sweet J, I love each and every one of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The true success, of course, was in the progress made by 7 remarkable students who I now also consider beloved friends. The transition from Sunday night to Friday is insane, and I beam with pride when talking about the growth- both photographically and personally- that every one made. Signing up for a workshop where you are going to live, eat and sleep with photographers is daunting enough, let alone willingly subjecting yourself to brutal critique. But this cast of characters all arrived with the most positive of attitudes and soaked up every conversation, every exercise, every opportunity. They appreciated the intimate environment and were not shy in acknowledging even the smallest of lessons.

The camaraderie among the group was something from a movie script, yes, made only more sweet by the campy Cape Cod compound that wrapped its arms around us, inspired us with its history and beautiful light, and recharged our creative spirit. Sound hokey? To you, maybe it does. But to those who were there, the house was just as much a piece in the puzzle as were the staff, the assignments and, oh yes, that yummy lobster bake. One evening just before sunset while we were outside under the grove of old trees and filtered sunlight, Jenn exclaimed, “This house is magical.” I couldn’t agree more.

Drawing on a backlog of contacts from my days as a photography intern at the Cape Cod Times during college, many of the assignments were repeats from our inaugural year. Most fascinating was the variation of photos from these same subjects, and the very different journey had by two photographers at the same scene one year apart. The assignments, however, don’t make a lick of difference at the end of the day, you should understand, because when it comes down to it we could be photographing sailboats float by from our dock and learn just as much. The assignments are simply an exercise to put the art of seeing into practice and, thus, become better visual storytellers.

So now I’m a bit stunned that it’s come and gone. Again. It feels so strange to be writing a recap of the week when I’d really rather just go back to the house, the Roots house, to spend more time with my awesome friends. But unfortunately it’s business as usual, and back to the grind as is the case when summer camp ends. I feel extremely lucky to add to the Roots alumni list: Audra, Christina, Roxanne, Rob, Andree, Earl and Ned, my summer ’09 BFF. Please check back to see slideshows of each of their assignments from the week in the upcoming days.

And in case you missed it:
Roots Workshop Day 6
Roots Workshop Day 5
Roots Workshop Day 4
Roots Workshop Day 3
Roots Workshop Day 2
Roots Workshop Day 1

(Thanks again to Eric for documenting our week so beautifully and thoughtfully).

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Roots Workshop Day 6

post written on 25 Jul 09 in While on the Cape

After a super fun post-slideshow celebration on Thursday which included a late night dance party and our (now annual, as this was the second) Chubby Bunny Invitational, everyone miraculously rallied on Friday morning for a group portrait on the dock before the emotional good-byes of the day that followed (minus two who had already left).

As we perched on our dock at low tide, I looked around me and couldn’t help but be inspired by the beauty of the simple moment and the strength of the friendships formed around me. Folks who just days before were complete strangers, were sharing inside jokes and not caring one bit that none of us had brushed our teeth yet. :) This dock, this house, these faces, this week, this experience, will be burned in my memory until we can return to inspire a new group of students next July.

I’m logging off to enjoy a day of relaxation and reflection before returning to the workflow that awaits back in Maine. This won’t be the end of the Roots Workshop ’09 blogging, of course, as I cannot wait to share with you the students’ work and impressions of the experience soon!!

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Roots Workshop Day 5

post written on 24 Jul 09 in While on the Cape

Thursday, the last full day at Roots Workshop (sniff, sniff), was spent at the house as teams completed a final edit of each student’s work and then assembled the best of the take into a 30 (ish) image slideshow.

Per usual, the day began with another yummy meal by Chef J.


J made sure everyone started their day this week fueled with a full belly including scrambled eggs, blueberry pancakes, or today, a breakfast burrito- with onions (Crying for entertainment purposes only).

Next up, Mark entertained… er… led a mini boot camp in the yard.

Once we got to editing, the day- par for the course- included lots of laughter.

And singing breaks.

But there were plenty of pensive, solitary moments as folks assembled a week’s worth of growth into their selection slideshows, a task taken seriously by all.


For dinner, we donned some bugspray and hit the deck for an amazing Jake’s Bake lobster feast.

We moved under the porch as it started to rain. Love the coziness.


Roots ’08 student Shyla arrived with a plateful of homemade Roots logo cookies. How sweet!

Jennifer’s Snapshot Studio provided some hilarious entertainment.

Of course we all had to climb in together (note Mark’s beard on Greg’s head please).

The slideshows begin. Each student introduced their assignment, sharing tidbits they learned throughout the process.


The formal portion of the evening (or shall I say, blog-appropriate) ended up with a beautiful slideshow of all the images Eric took, accompanied by an original tune on guitar. We heart you, Eric!

So proud and inspired by everyone this week! More on this in tomorrow’s post…

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Roots Workshop Day 4

post written on 23 Jul 09 in While on the Cape

Today was another busy day in Cape Cod, with Roots Workshop students returning to photograph their assignments again, working to apply the suggestions from last night’s (late night) critiques. So grateful to Eric for another fantastic account of the students doing their thing around the Cape.

We all woke up smiling to see yesterday’s rain had moved out.

Mentor Mark squeezed in a quick paddle before heading out. Did you see his silly video from the previous blog post yet?

Christina captured the sheriff’s youth academy at a ropes course.

Ned had a much more successful day on the lobster boat. Sunshine = fair seas = happy tummy.


Rob hung with some cutie kiddos at a YMCA camp.


Andree immersed herself at a beautiful horse farm.


Audra put in some long hours at an ice cream shop.

Mentor Tyler advised for some sweet dusk shots.


Talk about working an angle!


The view from our dock, as round #2 critiques begin inside.

This week has f-l-o-w-n!! Can’t wait to see how everything comes together at tomorrow night’s slideshow celebration night!

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Mark's view of Roots

post written on 22 Jul 09 in While on the Cape

Roots Workshop mentor Mark Adams shares a few images from the week so far, and a silly video from a morning paddle.

At the fair on Monday night.


While mentoring Christina at the fire academy training trenches on Tuesday. Peeking in…

And getting pulled out. Awesome effort getting in there, Christina, literally!

Cape Cod dreaming from emilie sommer on Vimeo.

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Roots Workshop Day 3

post written on 22 Jul 09 in While on the Cape

Pirate Eric here.

Coming at you again from the high seas of the Atlantic. Loving the days up here thus far at Roots Workshop. Today I began heading out to document the students on assignment. They’ve been at some pretty awesome places…

… Kids baseball camp


Mentor Rachel arrives.

… Juvie boot camp at the fire house


With mentor Mark.

… summer stock theatre at The Monomoy and rehearsals for ‘Honk”


Mark visits here too.

Then there was Ned. Oh Neddy neddy neddy. I’ll leave the details out for all of you, but in the image below Ned is telling us all about his lovely lobstering trip on the rough seas that morning. He also told us about his best new friend, Mr. Bucket. A bucket is super useful It can catch all sorts of things that come out of us. Sometimes right after another. Like breakfast. Both digested and then undigested. Catch my drift?

Editing sessions are awesome. Just ask Tyler.

Yeah. After everyone got back from their assignments we set up the review stations and went through the day’s images and the team leaders talk about composition, lighting, content, expression.. all the good stuff. Sometimes they are brutal, sometimes they are complimentary but they are all brutally honest. Roots is all about getting better… not fluffing you. er… fluffing your ego. There were some pretty hysterical things said during the critique tonight. Click here to see a few on Twitter. This is what it looks like during the sessions ::

Ok. This little pirate needs to get his booty to bed. Sea bed. HIYOOOOO.

Uh.

ok. I’m making lame jokes. Time for bed.

Get low.

eric

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