Fruit of the Soul
This short message, on the day that light begins to return to the land, is one of thanks
2014 has been a hard year but probably the most rewarding year of work I’ve ever done. It is often said that when we work from the heart it does not feel like work, and our workshops this year have demonstrated to me again, as if I needed reminding, that it is true.
We started out with Photovate on a hunch. There were many photographic workshops out there, most of which are offering guided tours to iconic places, so that you can go there and get the photographic t-shirt. That was never us.
We wanted to provide something different, not just an inspiring location but an experience in ‘being there’: a beautiful and nurturing base to stay with great food and company, balancing work and relaxation, allowing the normal pressures and distractions of life to switch off for a while so that we can see in new ways with the camera, in ways that come from within us.
In Las Alpujarras we have found all of that in abundance. This magical area has revealed even more of itself to us. It is a place for the discerning photographer who is prepared to let go of expectation and to let the world come to you. Landscapes do not sit up and beg to be photographed. People do not stare into the lens. There is beauty and degradation in equal measure. It ticks none of the conventional boxes.
And it thrilled me that our workshop guests found not only something different outside but something different inside too. That something is different for everyone. Not everyone gets all of it.
But there is always one nugget in your colour: take what you need and leave the rest.
We have encouraged our photographers to “cultivate the tree that bears fruit in their soul”. We know it is not easy to find. The harder we look the less we see. But by bringing our whole attention to the present moment, without thought or planning, the universe reveals itself in ways that we could never expect.
There have been too many highlights to mention them all:
Our unique artist exchange with the ever inspirational Meg Robinson, listening with a tear in my own eye as I watched the ‘aha light’ coming on in the eyes of our participants – ‘what is your photographic version of the artist’s sketchbook’? Is there joy in your process, more so than in the outcome?
Meetings with shepherds and goatherds, particularly Ramón.
Seeing the joyful recognition when a simple, surprising and stunning image came from nowhere – the incense and the magnolias, the half pomegranate, the textures and colours …
The religious fervour and deafening sounds of “Al Señor de la Expiratión”
The magical Sierra Wave of 15th October – “the whole week was worth it for that one hour”.
In short, helping our guests to begin to rediscover the joy of seeing has been my own heart’s work this year. I have followed Thoreau’s words, cultivated the tree that bears fruit in my own soul, both for myself and our guests.
So I finish with a huge thank you to all of you who have been involved with us on this venture, in whatever way, large or small:
- to Carolyn, who has thrown herself into this venture with the same enthusiasm as I have to be the perfect host, talented cook and self-rediscovered photographer
- to Meg, who is recovering after several months in hospital, whose spirit is the most inspirational and generous of anyone I know and whose insights have helped me on this journey to lay down the core principles of our work – (((HUG)))
- to Fi our chef, who was such an integral part of our crew on those first weeks, nourishing us, supporting us
- to Jeni and Dave, our friends whose presence still graces the Alpujarras wherever we tread
- to Martin and Sue and Anna for supporting our work in more ways than you could know and for allowing us to find ourselves in your beautiful La Estrellita
- to Alan at Cortijo Romero and to Giles and Louise at Manzac d’en Bas for taking a punt and taking on the Joy of Seeing at your locations – it will be fabulous
- and finally all of you whose company on our workshops and interest has made it all possible
Our Spring weeks in Las Alpujarras are full now, but we will be announcing dates for 2016 very shortly. We are also expanding with weeks at Cortijo Romero, one of Europe’s best respected personal development centres, and Manzac d’en Bas in the magnificent French Ariège – why not join us there in 2015.
With all good wishes to everyone for the season and the New Year.
… Ken and Carolyn