“The greatness of a craft consists firstly in how it brings comradeship to men.” ~Antoine de St. Exupery
The last 30 days have been a whirlwind of teaching, travel, and photography. It was my great pleasure (as it is each year) to assist Sam Abell on Whidbey Island at the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville. The class this year was built around creating a book of Whidbey Island. Books are dear to Sam and dear to me. For this reason we were excited to offer the class the opportunity to develop an essay on a topic of their choosing about Whidbey Island. The assembly of these essays created our book. It will soon be available on Blurb for all the students. By all reports, the workshop was a great success and we will be doing the same thing again next year with a few minor adjustments.
Following the workshop I flew immediately to California to photograph participants in a clinic at Debra and Dominique Barbier’s farm in Healdsburg. Thirty or more people enjoyed participating in the first ever formal clinic at Batbier Farm…..riding their horses, learning from both Dominique and Debra, hearing Dominique’s Meditation for Two lecture, and enjoying great food, conversation, and wine. The group, though diverse, came together easily because of the common love of the horse and their dedication to classical teaching and the compassionate training of the horse.
After a few days back in Seattle I was off to the East Coast to visit family and collaborate with Linda Bertschinger of Classicus Farm on her new book: Alchemy, Transforming Your Horse in Lightness. After 30 hours non-stop work, we declared the book designed and well on its way to completion. It was a pleasure to put in this time as the book is a gentle recitation of Linda’s experiences with different horses, each illustrating a pillar of classical training. I will have an announcement on this blog when it is available. (Soon!)
And then I was off to Wyoming. I was a sheer delight to accompany Sam Abell and make a pilgrimage of sorts to a little town in Wyoming, prior to giving a lecture at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. Our good friend, Anthony Polvere, had arranged for the talk after we all met the previous year at the workshop on Whidbey Island. The talk was the finest I’ve heard Sam give in the last five years. The students of Northwest College and the citizens of Powell, Cody, Billings, and points in between, were given a talk that illustrated Sam’s practice and philosophy of photography. Even more importantly, they walked away having witnessed a man that has examined life, a life in photography and from photography, a life writ large but lived humbly. It’s a stunning combination: inspiring, uplifting, whole. And then….off we went to Yellowstone National Park with the photography faculty from Northwest College! There was such great fun, laughter, joy, remarkable story-telling, in short, camaraderie. With the majesty of Yellowstone as our backdrop and great cowboy songs for our soundtrack, we toured, photographed, and enjoyed much of the Park.
And now I am just back from Santa Fe, having photographed participants there in a clinic with Dominique. The very talented Lynn Clifford was the organizer of the clinic and our gracious hostess. Again, a diverse group met for three days, enjoyed each other’s company, and shared their lives and experience with one another….all from their love of the horse.
In thinking about this whirlwind 30 days, the experience of fraternity and the spirit of collaboration are the thoughts that keep rising up. Friendship built on common interest, but friendship that respects each other’s vision and tradition creates an easy but deep and lasting bond. The experience of collaboration, whether creating a book, editing a slideshow, shooting a video, or just exploring somewhere new, provides a foundation for each person to offer their insight and their strengths to the completion of a project. With this collaboration, the project has a greater chance of having more depth and lasting meaning.
I have seen this with other book projects, I have experienced it with my own, and I have been honored to collaborate with and assist Sam and other teachers and photographers in many different ways. So for photographers, horsemen and horsewomen, and all the readers of my blog, I say this: find a collaborator or teacher, join a group of friends and make new ones, and navigate to a place of joy and meaning.
“Friendship is borne from an identity of spiritual goals ~ From common navigation toward a star.” A. de S. E.
Here’s a gallery, including friends and collaborators, from recent travels.