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Notes From the Darkroom

Photography by Tamara Kuzminski

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Jesh de Rox – Life {As An Artform} workshop review

I am an artist. That’s something I couldn’t say to myself a few months ago. In fact, I can’t really say it with much conviction now, but it is a philosophy I am trying to live my life by nonetheless.

I’d done a lot of reading on the internet about the Life {As An Artform} workshop with Jesh de Rox, and just about the only thing that most of them said was how much the workshop changed their lives. So the day before I went on it, I wrote a note to myself so I’d remember how I was feeling beforehand. Actually, it wasn’t so much a note as it was a diary entry, an essay even. Once I started letting how I was feeling come to the surface I almost couldn’t stop the flow from my fingers and I just wrote and wrote. I wanted to be able to look back at the me who was then, in a month’s time, in a year’s time, and see how much had changed.

I’m not the kind of person who wears my heart on my sleeve. I keep a lot of things to myself and I was dreading the thought of having to fight that instinct and open up to people I didn’t really know, other people in my industry who I respected, and who, honestly, I thought were in a completely different league to myself. To say that I was nervous was a massive understatement. But to repeat what so many others have said, this workshop turned out to be some of the most life-changing days of my life. But I know that you’re reading this because you want to know more than that. What everyone takes from the workshop will be different and deeply personal. This is my story.

Laig Bay shell on EiggLife {As An Artform} isn’t a photography workshop in the way you would expect. In fact, it isn’t about photography at all, but is about you, about being authentic and growing as an artist and as a person. It’s a place for your heart to be nourished, to grow and to flourish.

I arrived at the workshop overworked, stressed and frankly, suffering from burn-out. I felt that I had lost myself and my passion for photography somewhere along the way. It was still there, in the depths, but just not where I was looking for it. But during those three days, I rediscovered who I was as a photographer and it re-aligned me back onto the path that is me.

Basically, we spent three days listening, talking and doing lots of exercises and experiences. The whole premise of the workshop is that being a great artist comes from within you. To take extraordinary images, you must live an extraordinary life. Everything we see and experience externally, comes from us internally. But you can’t just turn around and be great overnight, in the same way that if you want to bend over and touch the floor, you have to do it a little at a time, keep exercising, and you’ll get a bit closer each time. It’s the same with art, with who you are as a person. So there were lots of experiences to help us along that path or help us find what we need to do to get there. It was all very personal as each person has different things holding them back.

Most of the 12 people on the workshop were strangers to me when we started. But we all told stories to each other, laughed with each other, cried with each other, gazed into each other’s eyes, shared difficult experiences, encouraged each other, held each other, told each other deeply personal things about ourselves that we haven’t shared with anyone else.

By the end of the first day I was so emotionally exhausted that I spent most of the second day fighting back tears because I felt so overwhelmed. I’d opened myself up so much and everything that was holding me back from being the artist and extraordinary person I want to be was right there, simmering below the surface. By the end of the second day, I felt like I’d been hit by an emotional train. Every evening I was starving hungry, even though we’d done very little physically. And every night I had a mixture of sleeping so well because I was exhausted and hardly sleeping at all because there was so much going on in my head. I felt clearer about some things than I ever had, and more fuzzy about others.

I learned things about myself that I never knew were there, or that I thought I wasn’t capable of, or that I am some things that I just thought I wasn’t. I went into the workshop struggling with some basic premises of who I was as an artist and totally surprised myself about what I discovered. I was given the support and encouragement to become who I really want to be, and wasn’t judged for what I wasn’t. And all of that will make me a richer and more fulfilled person, and in turn, a better photographer.

It’s now 8 months since Life {As An Artform} and the direction I am taking my photography couldn’t be more different to what is was before the workshop. I have spent the last year gaining clarity, becoming more confident, growing and building a foundation for the future towards which I am about to start running. Would I do this workshop again? Without a doubt. It has been a part of the catalyst for my new future and for my new life. It wasn’t an easy three days. But then nothing great ever is.


7 January 2013

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  1. <3 <3 you put into words what is impossible to express. You are amazing and I hope our paths cross again soon.

  2. jesh de rox says:

    thank you so much for your beautiful sharing, my friend. it is so beautiful to read these words and see where you’ve chosen to take yourself from the diving board you leapt from. you are an incredible individual and i wish you ever success in your continued adventure. proud to be a friend and stepping stone along your way ;)

  3. pen says:

    Oh Tamara, reading your words bought those three days flooding back, and they were life changing indeed. I am so proud of how you have stepped forward into your own light, and I have no doubt you will shine bright. I hope we get the chance to catch up in the near future and revisit some of those heady days x

  4. Egle says:

    This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I have to say, I want to experience this…

  5. I’ve only just seen your blog post now. How beautifully written. And it’s amazing to see how you’ve let the experience guide you towards something more meaningful to you in life and work. So inspiring!

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