I held my first international workshop on the 18th and 19th of September in the UK. It´s been a big dream of mine to have workshops abroad and now it has manifested. I definitely want to do more in the future. I have held workshops in Finland before, but teaching in another language is always different. There was a time when I felt I wasn´t ready for it. People always ask if I have any tutorials or workshops and before this moment I felt like the time wasn´t right. I had a few blocks to destroy before I could give anything to anyone else. Now I know I can do them and I really, really enjoy it also.
How I ended up in Kelham Hall is thanks to Damian McGillicuddy, he is an amazing teacher of photography and master of light he is also very funny and his teaching techniques are great. I met Damian 2 years ago when I was one of the judges for the Swedish portrait competition. Damian was the Head Judge. He contacted me a few months ago and asked if I was willing to come to the UK to do a workshop, I said yes even though at that time it felt a bit scary. I knew I had time to prepare at least mentally. Time always flies by so fast, especially when you think you have all the time in the world. Very soon the workshop was in front of me. I noticed it was a bit difficult to make plans due to not having any clue of where I was going, sure I´ve been told the name of the place and who my model was going to be, but seeing things online doesn´t give you all the information. I decided that I would really rely on my instinct and inner guide with this one. I packed a lot of props and costumes with me, knowing at least some of it will work. Trusting that the experience I have will help me through it all. I had prepared some bullet points about creativity and me but in the end just let it all just come out when the moment was right. I know from past workshops that it is relatively easy for me to talk about things I know really well, so I didn´t feel I needed to write a speech. I also enjoy the feeling of not really know what comes next, sensing the vibration in the room and being open for different paths is thrilling. I think that is also a way of being creative.
I arrived to Manchester the day before my workshop. I was picked up by Neil Shearer, one of the photographers who would also attend my workshop (Check his website, he takes stunning pictures!). We had an 2 hour drive to the final destination. I don´t know about you but I always feel really exhausted and ragged after traveling. I enter the plane as a person and come out as a monster. That´s how I feel anyhow.
Arriving to Kelham Hall was amazing. It´s just a “basic” stately home, something that is a norm in the UK I guess. We don´t have places like that in Finland, so it felt kind of posh being there. After lunch I went out for a walk by myself. I needed to see if I could find any locations that would resonate with me, I still had to have the workshop the next day so kind of crucial to at least have some idea where to shoot. I walked in the park, just enjoying every detail and came across this absolutely amazing tree. Tree of life, tree of wisdom, enchanted tree any of those descriptions fits well with it. I knew right away the image I would create there. Once that vision came to me I knew everything would be all right. With ease I found the other spots. I was really eager to go ahead with the workshop now. Exactly the feeling I wanted to have.
Workshop day 1 came. I had this strange calmness and knowing that everything would work out just great. Not really nervous at all, just keen. My amazing model Lilly von Pink nailed it and it was so easy and fun to work with her, her coolness also calmed me. I started the day with a presentation about me and my work, moving on to creativity and believing in yourself and your vision. After lunch we went out. When Lilly stood by the magical tree in the red dress while I finished up the styling and set, my whole body just shivered, cause I knew it would rock. I loved seeing everyone so interested and eager to shoot, even though the vision, set and styling was all my vision. My style of photography is also very distinct, so it was really humbling to see that people actually wanted to learn from me even though our styles are different. By opening doors to new experiences you can find a whole new path or just add on new things to the path you are all ready on that is working for you. I really think it is important to develop your skills and going forward. You can learn from any experience really and apply to your own way of doing things. That´s the beauty of workshops, at least for me. I´ve been to a few workshops where at first I was a bit disappointed cause I felt I didn´t learn anything, but afterwards realising that the lesson was in something else than photography, it´s all in how you see things.
Day two was editing day, by that time I had developed a full on flu. I didn´t feel that good physically, but really tried hard not to let that spoil my experience. I was still eager and enjoyed the teaching. Teaching editing can be a challenge, because the skill levels are so different. Some know more than others, so how do you explain something so it wont bore one side and overwhelm the other? It´s a balance. I decided I would just show what I do, there is no wrong way or right, just different ways of doing things. It´s also amazing to see the results when you have the same shot but many visions. Not one image looked the same.
My flight back to Finland was on saturday, so for the last night I was invited to stay at a wonderful couple Lee and Diane´s house somewhere in between Kelham and Manchester (No clue where I was really ) We had some car troubles on the way but it all got sorted out, had some Chinese food in the evening and tasted some really delicious PROPER english tea. On so many levels this little adventure made an impact, and I will forever cherish the experience. Thank you Damian and Lesley for inviting me, thank you Lilly, Neil, Lee and Diane. Thank you all who attended my workshop and people who helped out, hope to see you again! Kiitos ja näkemiin!
My images ready and done. Costumes by Mirjam Lehtonen
Model: Lilly von Pink