Friends + Photographers + Models oh my (WPPI and Las Vegas Revisited)

What does it mean to be connected? An association? To establish communication? To link together from afar what otherwise would never have been joined? Hmmm. I like that one.

We live in such a technologically connected world, and I’m first in line to admit that my heart hits that butterfly panic note when I’ve forgotten my iPhone at home (even when going for a short drive).  This constant connectivity, well, it’s almost unnatural. Almost. But, as a photographer, it’s necessary. And it’s also nice. I am constantly on – online, on the phone, on location. I constantly, constantly check email/twitter/facebook. I blog about it, write about it, text about it, talk about it, teach about it. And I. love. it. I took to this new era of impossibility like a fish to water. What is the draw? Technology certainly gives us the illusion that we’re never alone. And perhaps we aren’t. But in all these tangled webs that interweave and pull us in different directions, are we really as connected as we think?

What is connection? Connection is also emotional. It means to join, to link, to fasten together; to unite or bind. To feel connected is to feel as though you are a part of something, something common or perhaps uncommon. Connections are Relationships. Yeah. I dig that.

Those of you who have read my previous posts about WPPI (2011 and 2010) and my annual excursions to Las Vegas know that it’s the connections – the relationships –  that keep me going back. Yes, the learning is fabulous. But it’s the friends, the camaraderie, the meeting on the escalator and never looking back (shout out Misty) that are the reasons for the return. At least for me.  Because I can call you, text you, email you, but the truth is I really want to see you (and Skype doesn’t count!), give you a hug (awww. wait. is that creepy?), meet for coffee. I want to have a few drinks and be silly about it. I want to be with people who get who I am. Who want to canvas the city with camera in hand, run around like idiots, crawl over Las Vegas grit and terrain, photograph models outdoors in 40 degree windy weather, sit on floors, lay on the ground, squeeze into impossible corners, pose in unnatural ways, and generally use the camera as an extension of self. And don’t even let me hear you say that you’re not a model – because baby, look at you now. For reals.

Yes, we’re crazy. We photograph everything that does and doesn’t move – what we eat, what we drink, how we get there, what we do when we’ve gotten there – it’s all fair game. But we do it together. So that makes it OK. And not so crazy maybe. Or maybe just crazy cool. So that’s my real deal connection. That’s what I miss.  The fun and the fearlessness and the photography and the friends. Because it’s those ties that hold strong. And through WPPI I have met and connected with several people who I cannot even imagine my journey without right now. It’s like they fit seamlessly into the life I was already living, filling spaces I didn’t even know were empty – spaces waiting for people who are as passionate and driven and talented and excited about photography as I am.

So, yeah, you might notice I am feeling a bit nostalgic for WPPI and the friends I’ve met year after year. And while I’ve been crazy busy since coming back from the conference in February, rather than put it off any longer I thought I would take a minute, give in to the nostalgia, and edit the photos I took while enjoying the desert and all it had to offer. So here’s a shout out to my 2011 (and 2010 and 2009) peeps – we had a blast and I miss it. All the time. Enjoy!

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