Photo Field Trip: Magic & Madness

It’s been two months now since I was at Photo Field Trip, at El Capitan Canyon on the famed Californian coast, and I’m still unravelling my thoughts.

When I arrived at Field Trip, I dropped my bags at my cabin and began the trek up to the main area to get my bearings and to collect the popcorn and gin I’d left in a new friend’s car. Before I could get more than a few metres, a golf buggy drove past and a crew of friendly faces beamed at me, “wanna lift?”

‘Sure!’ I thought. ‘Why not?’ So I jumped on happily, turned around to say hi and before any words of greeting could leave my mouth, I realised that I knew the face just centimetres from mine - Ryan Muirhead. One of my all-time favourite photographers, sitting right next to me. I don’t fancy myself the fangirl type, but my words stopped right then & there. Nothing would come out. So I turned around and spent the rest of the ride up willing some words to appear (they didn’t).

That was just a taster of the madness to come. The first night kicked off with an impassioned talk about stardust and magic, and for me, a sleep deprived Dan O’Day making rhymes about aperture (“f22, I’m proud of you”) in a talk that changed the value I place on my own work and its impact on my life.

Each day that followed was filled with just as much – waking up to painfully slow, but incredibly friendly, lines for coffee from Nice Coffee Co, to classes that made us cry (Jonas Peterson), squirm (the Woodnotes), go “ooh” & “ahh” (Joel Fox) and set those minds a-ticking (Trevor Christensen). From a mad array of new friends, to run-ins with photographers who had seemed so far removed in the social media realm, but now were just incredibly lovely humans standing right in front of me, to alcohol fuelled bingo, hilarity and dance parties.

In amongst it all, there was barely time to think. I left feeling exhausted and in dire need of time to process, but instead launched straight into the trip of a lifetime with two amazing Canadians. And so I went from Field Trip to one hectic roadtrip to 45 hours in transit to photographing a wedding to a goodbye party to struggletown. Actually, I was a complete wreck. Would I recommend Field Trip? Would I actually do it all again?

Two months down, and I can safely say the answer is yes. I’m still working through it all – the ups & the downs, the good parts and the not-so good parts, but generally, I think Field Trip took my breath away in the best possible way.

It taught me the value of humility in Field Trip’s unwilling leader & excellent rambler, Whitney, it taught me that there is no right way to do things, it taught me the power of vulnerability, it taught me to be open & caring, it taught me that sometimes, it really is okay to feel like sh*t. It taught me that this lifestyle I’ve chosen is difficult & precarious & totally worth it, even though I’ll probably never stop feeling like a fraud.

I think the part where I’m still processing shows in this blog post – it’s a bit all over the place, and not at all clear, but I’m not sure when the clarity I’m craving will arrive, if ever. And before the memories of Field Trip fade even further, I wanted to share a teensy morsel of my experience, and to remember all the lessons I learnt.

Cabin Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Flowers Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Fuck Yeah Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer Wolf 2
Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer Wolf
Photo Field Trip California Portrait Analogue Photographer
Izzy Photo Field Trip California Portrait Analogue Photographer
Film Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Golden Hour Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Curls Photo Field Trip California Portrait Analogue Photographer
Friends Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Wild Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Pebble Towers Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Breakfast Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Big Tent Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Syd Photo Field Trip California Portrait Analogue Photographer
Me Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer
Morning Photo Field Trip California Lifestyle Analogue Photographer

Pentax K1000 | Kodak Ektar 100 + Fujifilm Superia 200

Field Notes: 22 April 2013.

22 April 2013

Fly to Milano
   to study
   to travel
   to learn
      italian
      about myself
      about culture
   to explore
   to experience

Italian Cloisters Rhianna May Travel Photography

Travel to
   Lake Como
   Venice
   Florence
   London
   Paris
   Bergamo
   Istanbul
   Gallipoli
   Rome
   Napoli
   Cinque Terre
   Amalfi Coast

Become reacquainted with myself
   Change life plans
   Spark passions
      photography
      cinema
      cooking
      discovering beauty
      writing
   Push boundaries
   Break rules

Happiness Navigli Rhianna May Travel Photography

Meet new people
   learning about cultures I'd never even considered
   understand what makes someone worth the effort
   know that a person can be incredible but the friendship may not work out
   plan on travelling all over the world to catch up with the friends I've made

Asha Milan Rhianna May Portrait Photographer

Fall in love with my own country once again
   Appreciate how fortunate I am
      the beauty
      the freedoms
      the organised, clean systems
      the opportunity
   Feel closer to friends at home
   Appreciate family
   Appreciate what I had

Telescope Cafe Rhianna May Travel Photographer

Fall in love, time & time again


I was going through old journals and notes on my phone earlier this week when I found this list. I wrote it during the final months of my exchange in Milan - an experience that changed my life more than I think I can even comprehend. I wanted a reminder of where I was at. I wanted a reminder for my future self of everything those six months held, the amazing places and cultures I was able to experience, the lessons I learned about myself and about the world and about other human beings.

It's funny looking over it now. A lot of the lessons I was learning then I'm still learning now. A lot of the things I'd learned to appreciate then, I'm having to remind myself to appreciate now. Life seems to be one big learning curve, and every now and then, it's nice to remember where we've been and where we're going.