Back in late May of this year, Kim Klassen made an exciting announcement – she would host a Finding Stillness workshop in her brand new studio! The timing was absolutely incredible as I had just been discussing with Brian the week prior that I was thinking of making a trip to Canada to see Kim in person because I felt a connection there and wanted to see her in her own environment in Rivers, Manitoba. Weird, eh? Naturally I took this as a sign and immediately registered. Oh my, am I ever glad I did! My first foray into the photographer gathering was with Shutter Sisters at their Oasis gathering in Palm Springs back in 2012. It was a lovely first gathering and a huge group, around 60 or 70 people. Connecting with everyone was a bit of a challenge, though I did meet some very special people that I have a connection with to this day. The second gathering was hosted by Kim Klassen & Xanthe Berkeley in Sunset Beach, with the helping hands of Myriam & Alisha (from the Shutter Sisters gathering.) It was held in a large multi-level house right on the beach. The setting was beautiful and I definitely came away with some knowledge and that feel good vibe. But with multi-levels to the house, I didn’t always know what demo was going on. If I wasn’t on that floor at that time, I missed out. Then Kim announced that she had purchased her own studio space. So much work. I remember the original pictures showed a rather dark space that was in a bit of a shambles. I watched as she continued posting pictures of the progress, and though I was so excited for her, I never dreamed she would be hosting a workshop / retreat so soon! But then it happened. Here are a few pictures of the space
I’m standing at the front door looking to toward the back area. From left to right are Diana Foster, Dorry Emmer, Gigi Thibodeau, and Barb Brookbank. Just look at the beautiful light!
Here I’m standing in the middle of the space looking toward the front. Check out the ladder, and the table and chair!
These shelves are on a wall behind Kim’s desk and represents just a fraction of all the lovely props she has collected. I felt like a kid at a friends house admiring all their cool toys and not knowing where to begin!
There’s beauty everywhere. I have a thing for cabinets with lots of little drawers. Sadly this furniture was way too big to fit in my suitcase!
In addition to the privilege of just being here, we were given gift bags, hand crafted by Aeleen Sclater. Oh my, it included a CD of her harp music (yes, I said harp!), chocolate, organic tea from the area, a small notebook, a beautiful pin representing the area, a lovely spoon & hankie from Carol – the lady whose antique store was in the space where Kim’s studio sits now. Carol moved a few blocks up and over. Nice shop! Back to this picture. It was taken in the ‘living room’ area of the studio. Isn’t this old trunk to die for?! Aeleen found it abandoned in an old barn. I never find stuff like this. I guess first I need an old barn nearby!
Aeleen also hand lettered the lovely tags on our gift baskets. The woman is multi-talented.
Here is Aeleen in the ‘cafe’ space of the studio. She prepared a fabulous lunch for us that day (yes, she can cook too!)
Picture of one of Aeleen’s salads. Quinoa! Boy was it ever delicious.
The first day we had a little play with some pancakes that were made at the bakery just a few doors down from the studio. Kim did a little demo, then we all got a chance to play.
Here’s Barb Brookbank giving it a go with a top down view as Kim & Xanthe assist.
Here’s my take on the pancakes. A straight on shot, backlit, assisted by the lovely Gigi Thibodeau pouring the syrup.
This became a common occurrence, people standing on step-stools, ladders, even the counter in this case to get the shot! Xanthe was working on a little video clip here.
When we came into the studio on day two, a lovely Fall table scape was laid out for us to photograph. Truly magical.
I also did a lighting demo that day utilizing a small table light Kim had laying around. I intend to get the name of that light as I think I want one for myself. I was pretty nervous, but thought if I set up a super simple still life using the light, people might feel comfortable enough to give it a try, and they did! There are 3 other people I’m aware of that want this same light!
All kinds of demo’s were going on. Here Barb Brookbank is observing a scene with Xanthe. There were both still life and video of this scene.
Kim’s son Bryce stopped in a few times. Here is filming the action as Xanthe poses for Diana Foster.
Here is a close-up of that door Xanthe was standing next to. Don’t you just love the carrots? Who needs a wreath!
We also had lovely walks, like this one on Kim’s favorite trail. In the group that day we had Aeleen, Diana, Brenda Kearns, Gigi, Barb, Kim, Xanthe, Shelley Rounds, Dorry, Ben, and me behind the camera. Another person in our group, Barbara Skrobuton was all by herself in the studio snapping away with her camera!
A chef came in on the last day to prepare lunch for us. Let me just say right now we did not go hungry! Ilse runs her own catering business and I gotta say – she rocks the house! Not only was the food delicious, but she graciously took her time and holding still here and there while all of us had our cameras trained on her. How many chefs would do that?
My top down shot that was the beautiful chaos of food that Ilse used to make salads and individual pizzas.
Of course there were more demos like this one with Kim photographing the fabulous old table & chair
We also had an hour of stillness everyday. You could do whatever you liked, but no talking. It turned out to be one of my favorite times of the day. On the last day, Aeleen brought in her harp and played for us. I don’t have a photo of that as I had tears running down my face at the time. Quite an emotional experience. Amazingly enough, the feeling has stayed with me. To the point of having difficulty with re-entry! The last pictureI will share from a demo is my take on the table & chair with this thought that I had posted on Instagram but wanted to be sure and share it hear as well
What is finding stillness? One of the images I recently posted on Instagram with the hashtag “findingstillness2015” a person left a comment asking “what is finding stillness?” I’m guessing she was asking about the hashtag, but i found it a profound question. For me, stillness happens when the mind is quiet, the body finds a soothing rhythm, and the positive energy flows. Finding it happens for me when I embrace my beauty, trust my inner voice, and let my light shine bright. Is that a 24-7 experience? No. But when it happens, sweet peace and tranquility washes over me. What is finding stillness? My hope is that each & every person finds their answer.
There are many, many more pictures I took and I know my words do not do the experience justice. Sometimes I think the most important experiences have no words. So instead of jabbering on, I’ll leave you with this one of sweet Ben. I think we plum wore him out during our visit. You know, he didn’t get his long walks with mamma Kim like he usually does because of our presence and yet every morning as we came in the door he greeted us with his tail wagging happily. Such a sweet boy.
I know for a fact that Kim will host more workshops in the future so be sure to keep your eye out on her website!
Also be sure to check out these website from some of the attendees at this workshop:
This folks are also on Instagram: @keepingwiththetimes, @bekearns, @dianafoster56, @gigithibodeau, @shelley.rounds