Last October, I kicked off an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to help me cover the cost of printing my guidebook, Photographing Acadia National Park: The Essential Guide to When, Where, and How. One of the perks I offered was a three-day photography workshop in Acadia National Park for up to four people.
Not long after the campaign went live, I received a note from a previous workshop student, Rebecca Wilks, who expressed interest in this Acadia workshop. She had been a student on the October 2013 Arizona Highways Photography Workshop that started off as “Autumn IN Acadia” photography workshop and ended up being the “Autumn AROUND Acadia” photo workshop, thanks to the government shutdown. The park closed a mere six days before the workshop started and lasted the entire duration. I can’t express in words how difficult emotionally this was for me: to have a group of twenty people eager to see and photograph the beauty of this coastal park – a place I’ve completely fallen in love with – and not be able to show them any of it.
With much assistance from my friends out there, though, we put together a wonderful new itinerary that showcased other beautiful places around Mount Desert Island like Little Long Pond, the Thuya Garden, Cooksey Overlook, and Lamoine State Park. It was enough of a taste of Maine to convince Rebecca, as well as three other women from this first trip (Amy Minton, Gwen Williams, and Jen Bookman) to book a return trip to see and photograph Acadia National Park. With much gratitude for their support of my book and Indiegogo campaign (why their names are in bold on page 215 under “Valued Individual Contributors” in my book), we immediately began planning their workshop for mid-October 2014. I could not wait to show them Acadia and see what photographs they would create there given this second chance!
To kick off what ended up being a four-day workshop (three days simply wasn’t long enough!), we naturally began with the traditional stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee and donuts. We then headed directly into the park, specifically Duck Brook Bridge, where we snapped a commemorative “YES! We’re finally IN the park!” photograph.
Over the four days, these hearty women sampled classic and off-the-beaten path spots within the park. As we endured 50+ mph winds atop Cadillac Mountain, fog so heavy we couldn’t see 50 feet in front of us at Otter Cliff, and a glorious colorful sky over Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, I encouraged (as I do on all my workshops) mindful observations, connecting with what each person saw and responded to emotionally, refining the technical execution of personal visions, and fully exploring a scene.
We even had a tremendous amount of FUN together, as you might be able to tell from our group photo time lapse from the Otter Cliff parking lot (From left to right: Gwen, Rebecca, Colleen, Amy, and Jen):
Their persistence paid off in the form of a fabulous experience, camaraderie, and a new portfolio of meaningful photographs at the height of fall color in Acadia. After the trip, as I looked through some of their images, I couldn’t help but recall a quote from Maya Angelou to describe their journey: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
Amy and Rebecca have graciously offered to write a Guest Blog about their experience and to share a sample of their photos from the trip, which will follow in the next two days. I hope you enjoy, as I so very much have, seeing Acadia through their eyes (and if you do, please leave them a comment on their post!).