In this world of marketing hyperbole and reality TV politicians it is interesting to note that the term “life changing” has not yet been coopted. This is convenient because it allows me to say that last weekend I had a life changing experience at the Moab Photography Symposium.
The Moab Symposium is not your typical photography workshop. Created by Bruce Hucko 15 years ago, the Moab Symposium’s goal has been to support the development of photographers’ personal vision. From the initial Symposium’s theme of “Beyond the Postcard” it has provided a supportive place for attendees to learn and develop as artists. This year was no exception.
In the first 24 hours Bruce Hucko implored us to examine other art forms to improve our photography, especially painting and the artist Kandinsky. Steve Traudt detailed his own journey to find what he enjoyed making photos of, the latest iteration being what he calls Moments which I was heartened to see was more street photography than landscape. Sarah Marino invited us to turn our backs on the famous vistas and instead find what appealed to us, inspiring us with her amazing images and imploring us to look down. Finally Rafael Rojas blew me away with the depth of thought and care that he puts into his landscape compositions. For me, his talk alone was worth the entire trip.
The next day Cole Thompson, with his sublime B&W style, talked about how he moved on beyond impersonating Ansel Adams and boy did he. His arresting, high contrast images are both incredibly unique and engaging. Charlotte Gibb provided a very different take with her intimate landscapes in soft and dreamy tones bringing her graphic design background to explain how different shapes can influence photos and insisting that it is ok to not show the sky in your landscapes! Finally Chuck Kimmerle gave an intriguing and innuendoed talk on his style and his thoughts on our photographic legacy in this world of trillions of bad photos.
The final day brought Colleen Miniuk-Sperry who eloquently detailed her life as a recovering over-achiever and former high tech minion. She recalled the moment she realized that making technically perfect images was boring her. She then went on to explain how she moved past this to find her own images. I found her story resonating with my own. Finally, the indomitable Guy Tal brought a presentation brimming with philosophy and breathtaking imagery and challenged us to “Live [Our] Questions.”
Now for the bad news. The Moab Photography Symposium is no more. Bruce Hucko poured his spirit into this symposium and inspired many photographers in the process. It is not surprising that he is ready to move on. There is good news though. Sarah Dolliver has been inspired to create the Sedona Photo Symposium which will take the idea and move it forward starting next year. It will not be the same but I believe the spirit will live on.
So, where does this leave me. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure yet. I am still processing what I learned and feel like I am embarking on what will likely be a long journey to find my own photographic voice. But I am inspired to do so. Thank you Bruce and all the other speakers and attendees.