Link: The Guardian of Grundy County (Missouri Photo Workshop 65)

The Guardian of Grundy County - Theonepointeight - Carlos Gonzalez

Over the past week, I spent time in the small community of Trenton, Missouri as part of the Missouri Photo Workshop.  This had been the 65th year that the workshop had taken place in the state of Missouri and to say the least, it was an incredible and life-changing experience, both in personal and professional ways. One where I got to spend time with the locals, sleep in their homes, drive across town and exchance ideas and views.  All the work I’ve done in the past pales in comparison to the work that took place last week. And hopefully, the work that continues from this point on reaches the same level of maturity.

I realize now more than ever that photography is not about the flashy images or about being part of a “scene” or about shooting hundreds or thousands of images hoping that there’s story to be found.  And it’s definitely not about putting one’s ego forward and thinking “I got the shot and no one else did”. Photography is about connecting with your subject in a human level which we all can relate to and to tell their stories in the most honest way. Sometimes, the best stuff happens when the camera is put down.  And as David Reese, the Workshop’s Director, stated “We live in an age where we are being assaulted by virtually endless visual stimuli. It may be more important now than ever to improve our skills as narrative storytellers to help people make sense of this world where random images are everywhere.”

I want to thank David, Jim Curley and Duane Dailey for giving me the chance to be part of this amazing workshop, as well as the faculty who were kind enough to hand me the “Spirit” Award.  It was an unexpected but greatly appreciated gesture. And possibly the best “Thank You” I can give them is to become a better photographer and in the process show that their time given to the workshop was well worth it. Through out, they were kind enough to give us, 45 photographers from 12 different countries (and all amazing in their own right), feedback, guidance and help.

The faculty included Kael Alford, Randy Cox, Dennis Dimick, Melissa Farlow, Deanne FItzmaurice, Preston Gannaway, Kim Komenich, Brian Kratzer and Randy Olson. As well as MaryAnne Golon, Director of Photography at the Washington Post, and Denver Post photographer Craig Walker, two bad ass leaders who I became friends with and who deeply inspired me to get better and to challenge myself through out. If you guys want to understand the power of photography and images, check out the portfolios and previous accomplishments of all those just mentioned. You’ll be amazed to say the least.

And also, huge thanks to Sheriff Rodney W. Herring, Grundy County’s Sheriff, who allowed me to enter his personal life with no restrictions whatsoever and who allowed me to document him for almost an entire week. No easy task for sure. But without him, there wouldn’t be a story nor friendship. Also thanks to the crew who arranged our photos, who printed our work, who stayed up till 4 in the morning and who never once complained. Without their help and effort, the workshop wouldn’t have taken place. Also, last but not least huge thanks to Elizabeth Bruneau over at Rolling Stone for helping me during the last minute application process and for getting me one step closer to my goal of making it out to Missouri.

For any photographers out there, make sure to check out the Missouri Photo Workshop and seriously consider attending next year. It will change you in considerable ways and take you to places you never quite expected. Check out this link to check out all the different photo essays from the attendees, as well as my complete photo essay titled “The Guardian of Grundy County”.

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