PhotocampUtah reminds me of those old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movies I would watch on tv as a kid when I stayed home from school. The bank would be about to foreclose on the family farm and Judy would say “hey kids, let’s put on a show in the barn.” They’d do some spectacular show with old flour sacks and wagon wheels and raise enough money to save the day.
So we didn’t raise any money but we did put on a pretty good show for only $15 a head. By photographers, for photographers, that’s how Jeremy puts it. Over twenty local photographers donated their time to give talks. Three more, Bruce Hucko, Duncan Davidson and Zack Arias, came from Moab, Portland and Atlanta at their own expense just to entertain and enlighten us.
Choosing a workshop during each breakout was tough by design. Our speaker pool is so broad that we could schedule the sports photographer up against the fashion photographer and a business of photography session in just one slot. It’s a huge success that the biggest complaint is that there’s too much to do at once.
We tried some new stuff in our second year: an amazing number of participants hung prints on Nate’s lo-fi clothesline display (three cartons of binder clips was one of our larger expenses). We tried a streaming video feed. We added a couple of panels this time to explore conversations among disparate photogs on common themes. But we kept what works for our grand finale: Ignite-style 5 minute talks filled with eye candy and inspiration.
We manage to do this with great sponsors, a bunch of volunteers, work parties, and a dry-run, but remarkably few boring committtee meetings. Even so, people outside our photog community think I’m nuts because of the time I donate to PhotocampUtah. Few of the organizers got to sit through more than a single session, but it’s still worth it. Because I coordinated the schedule, I got to recruit a couple of first-time presenters and watch them rock the house, much to their own surprise (not mine). I got to call up photogs I’ve never met (hi Brody Dezember, Ben Sant, Mike Tittle, Kevin Winzeler) and bring people together in unlikely pairings, like a top Utah wedding photog on a panel with an adventure sports photog. That doesn’t happen to them every day.
Bruce Hucko talked about building relationships with the camera and tending those relationships over a lifetime. One of the storytelling panelists emphasized the need to become an active participant in the events we photograph. Zack Arias told us to know the gear so well it becomes automatic so we keep focus on the subject. On the other side of the lens, we do this crazy PCU thing to nurture relationships in our photographic community and make it the best anywhere.
So check out the video archive or our Flickr pool or search the Twitter chatter on our hashtag #PCU2010. We will have a bigger venue next year, and we will need more help so we can build on what we have started. By Utah’s photographers, for Utah’s photographers, and “them” becomes “us.”