Way out West, fraternity and collaboration

“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.


13 Responses to “Way out West, fraternity and collaboration”

  1. September 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I was just sitting at my computer and thinking of you when I return to my e-mail inbox and find your latest blog. From the mists of Whidby Island, to the tables of good cheer at Dominique’s, then on to Santa Fé and Wyoming, cowgirl, you’ve had quite a journey. I know that Sam is such a special friend, and I can’t wait to ready Linda’s book. What an inspiration.

    I have recently decided that I must not read the morning newspaper, as the continuous bad news drains me of energy. Sometimes, I remain stopped for an hour or two, until I make myself get up and continue with my day. A news report of political events makes me reach up and turn off my car radio. I can’t fix a nation, but I can pick up my camera and create the vision of a better world. I can dance to something beautiful with my horse, delighting in the now, as others trudge with head bowed in fear.

    Thank you for your words and images that inspire me and many others to dance a better dance.

    • September 18, 2010 at 5:56 pm

      Hey Girl….you must have been feeling the weight of all the thoughts I had of you while cruising through CODY. : ) Thanks for checking on the blog and thank you for being the mirror to my words. Your friendship and collaboration through the years are exactly what I’m talking about. No one dances a more beautiful dance than you. K

  2. September 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I truly love reading your blog and journeying with you. We are so happy that you are out there “doing your thing!”… even with all the other pressures. I so agree with your friend Cathie, we’ve turned off the TV and done away with newspapers. We’ll enjoy the world as we see it… not what other want us to see. Their sensationalism is not ours…. Can’t wait to connect. Thank you for sharing….

    • September 19, 2010 at 6:09 pm

      Dear Karen,
      THANK YOU! Yes…many pressures, but as you can see, a fair amount of compensation. Now, let’s take our collaboration further! I’ll be ringing you. : )
      PS….very wise and well-said about “their sensationalism is not ours”.
      Big hug.

  3. September 18, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Keron, What a treat to see the photographs of Sam in my old stomping grounds. The “layered” picture at Yellowstone Lake is very nice. You have been very busy, don’t you just love photography!

  4. 7 honey
    September 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    this morning, i wrote an email to the photography blogger, aline smithson, from lenscratch in response to something she wrote about photo reviews. the gist of it was the importance of collaboration and how incredible it is that a camera could bring such amazing mentors, friends, and collaborators into my life. my first career, clinical social work, taught me the importance of others, and we relied on “networking” long before “social” preceded it! in art, “collaborate” means much the same, and understanding that more work, better work, and deeply honest work gets done more often with collaboration has been my experience.

    i am sure there are those who would disagree, but for me, the spark often flies from lightbulbs going off in the heads of others around me. i took a workshop once when the idea of finding a collaborator for a book was posed. sitting in front of me was a woman deeply involved in a beautiful layout. i felt the magic.

    being open to allowing others into our frame is keenly important. thank you for the reminder, keron, and bravo on the gorgeous pictures.

    • September 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm

      Dear Honey,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to look at the blog, and to add thoughtful, relevant comment to the post. I’m a fan of Aline’s blog….and a bigger fan of your work. My collaborative journey really got started during our workshop and it grows richer each year.
      Thank you for all you’ve done to keep the sparks igniting. Keron

  5. 9 Paul Chalfant
    September 19, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I need to become a dedicated, regular reader of your blog. I love your writing, and your photography, as you well know. All too often I get
    sidetracked by daily cruft and fail to look at your superb work. I vow to
    do better. –pc

  6. 11 Dianne chalfant
    September 20, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Great to see pics of your friends!

  7. September 28, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Wonderful photos. I came to this site via Barbiers facebook posting. And what a surprise to see that you were at NWC in Powell. I graduated from there in equine training and ag business. I recently this summer went back to visit and see what the facilities looked like and update my friends from college who were on facebook, with lots of photos. unfortunately no one was on the grounds so I didn’t get to visit with any of the staff who I haven’t seen in many years.

    • September 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Donna!
      Don’t you just love synchronicity? Too bad you didn’t get to see friends while visiting. It was my first trip to Wyoming and it could not have been better. Thank you very much for finding the blog.
      I hope you’ll check back often. There will be a lot of imagery soon on both blogs….looking forward to my trip to Europe and then in late November with Dominique and Debra to Brazil! I’m off now to check out your site.

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September 2010


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