Well the scariest thing I do each year has to be Farm Week. It is a massive financial commitment with no guaranteed returns. This year was our third one and I very nearly lost my nerve and just didn't do it at all. I start the planning in June ~ trying to persuade your photography heroes to join you in a quirky little farmhouse in Surrey to hangout, teach and learn is quite daunting. Early on I had a few very nearlys that eventually turned into knockbacks and it's hard not to take it personally. Successful photographers are busy people and they get asked to teach classes all the time. So I could just not do a Farm Week this year.. would anyone notice? I could have a stress-free Christmas just nibbling on the Ferrero Rochers and watching crap on telly. I wouldn't have to be checking sales reports and weather forecasts.
But of course I swallowed the fear, I went ahead and I somehow managed to pull together our best line-up of mentors yet. From our home grown talent, to those who first came to us to learn and now teach on our behalf, to our incredible international guests, the mentors this year were truly exceptional. I think we offered a comprehensive range of classes that could either fill in gaps in your skill set, add strings to your bow or utterly inspire you to new levels. We had attendees come every single day or just for one class. For a lot of them it was their first time at the actual Farm. In the four years since we started, we have grown far beyond that property but it will always be at the heart of what we do and I'm thrilled that so many people had the chance to experience it for themselves. There is a unique creativity that seeps out of the bones of that farmhouse and every time I've been there, I feel renewed and re-energised for my own work.
Farm Week saw photo shoots going on from the attic down to the woods and even on the trampoline. We had a newborn baby model, vintage pin-ups, lovely couples and even an artichoke got a starring role. We caught up with old friends and made new ones and I'm damn proud that I pulled it all together. We have learned so much from doing this event twice before and I feel that we have really hit our stride with it now. I am deeply grateful to those mentors that said yes this year and I'm eternally indebted to the Farm Elves who make it all run like clockwork. There is a unique creative frisson that arises when groups of photographers get together. Personally and professionally, I took so much from being in the room with the amazing group of people that were residents at the Farm last week. My investment emotionally has been returned to me 100 times over.
We wish our new friend Whitney all the luck in the world for his massive photography event in the US next week Field Trip and lots of us from Farm are excited to be attending the Way Up North photography summit in Sweden later this year. It's going to be fun to not be the one with all the spreadsheets.
Finally Farm Week wouldn't be half of what it is without our generous sponsors so huge thanks and big bear hugs to Folio, Lowepro and Light Blue. You are all utterly fantastic. Thanks to the brilliant Awesome Merchandise for their generous contribution and to all our industry friends who donated to the best goody bags yet.
Next year's Farm Week will be 8-12th of February... block it out in your calendars right now!!
images by Lisa Jane Photography