Reflections on Kim Klassen’s ‘Finding Stillness’ still life photography retreat
Can you image it?! Fourteen women, working in the same 1500 square foot space for three full days…no drama, no ego, no self concerned insecurities, nada.
Looking back over last week’s events, I am completely stunned, yet totally infused with energy and purpose. My brain has nearly burst from creative overload!
Upon arriving at Kim Klaassen’s studio in Rivers, Manitoba, I was surprised at my reaction. It all felt so surreal. For a year and a half I had been following along in Kim’s online classes and participating in video chats. I was familiar with her gentle personality and felt like I already new her well. But here I was, meeting this larger than life celebrity, her props and equipment I had become so familiar with in everyday Instagram posts, right there in front of me. All I could do was observe, breath it all in. Experience the joy of it. Of course, Kim and Aeleen (Kim’s close friend and collaborator) make you feel instantly at home, they are both amazingly hospitable.
After brief introductions all around and a twined wreath making demonstration designed to inspire, my fellow attendees and I were let loose on the place. Kim’s studio is stocked with a beautiful collection of backdrops, props and fabrics…and there was a complete ‘market’ of garden flowers and foraged materials outside. We were kids in a toy store stocked to the ceilings, and could grab anything we wanted! A frenzy of creativity, an explosion of ideas and imagination erupted unlike anything I have ever experienced!!
I was slow to begin. I wanted to stand next to each participant for a moment, as if the action would allow me to absorb some of this intense energy and store it away for future use. I began by taking pictures of people taking pictures. Once I was centered and the initial overwhelm passed , I was excited and ready to dive in for myself.
At first I thought it was the fact that most of us were at a similar age and place in life or that a few had connected earlier on Instagram. I became convinced later of another reason for our instant collective friendship. It is the environment that Kim has created, one of kindness, generosity, and support, a unique micro-culture of celebration and nurturing. It didn’t matter whether we were just turning on our big girl camera or had years of experience behind us, we were treated equally, and encouraged to grow. She is an extremely skilled teacher, calmly flitting from novice to accomplished photographer, solving issues and smoothing over difficulties for each one. We were convinced we could create anything our imagination could cook up, and we did!
For three days Kim and Aeleen led us on a rampage of the spirit. Each day was artfully crafted with inspiration, instruction, and connection. There was plenty of time for collaboration and self discovery. Every attendee graciously shared any collective knowledge they had to offer. By the end of the third day we felt completely full, stuffed beyond our ability to take in another morsel of artistic nourishment. My experience revealed that finding stillness does not necessarily mean being physically still. For me, it was about reaching deep down and pulling out what’s inside…my point of view, my perspective, my style. And putting it out there, just for the beauty of it, for the art and soul of it, to share with the world.
As I continue on my artistic path, what will I take along with me from this experience? No doubt there will be small bits of style gleaned from each wonderfully talented woman. There will also be a keener sense of expertise in knowing my camera and a better understanding of light and shadow. But most assuredly and most importantly, I have no need to feel alone in my journey. For if others believe in you, walk alongside and help you over every hurdle, you can venture into unknown territory and travel further than you’ve ever imagined you could.
Thank you @kimklassen, @prairegirlstudio, @alajamie, @keepingwiththetimes, @inspiringmaterial, @bskrobuton, @simplyrosiephotography, @joannblondin for these candid shots. A huge, huge, thank you to Kim, Aeleen, Kim’s mom and dad, and everyone at the workshop including Brice for the most awesome experience ever!
For a collection of images from participants of the workshop see #findingstillness2016.
Make sure to follow @kimklassen for daily still life inspiration.
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