Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Thank you everyone! Part I

One photo from our last night in Pismo Beach.

What an amazing trip I just had! I know the last 2 posts have been short, but this one should make up for it. :) This is going to be the first of two post recapping my trip to California.

It is no secret that I have photographed weddings for a REALLY long time. Until this weekend I never really thought about how long until Lynn said to me, "Jason, just how long is a long time?" I responded that I photographed my first party when I was just 17 years old for a local photographer where I grew up. I continued with him as his assistant and shooting my own jobs for him through high school, college (F.I.T.) and then through my 20's. She then looked at me and said "Jason, that is 21 years!" Yikes. I have to admit that during all those years, it was not always a love affair. As a matter of fact, I can honestly say I really did not enjoy many of them. While I was in college, one of my photography professors asked me to shoot his daughter's wedding. At first, I immediately turned him down because it was too much pressure. After he insisted, I agreed....2 weeks after the wedding I dropped off the photos and negs (yes, negs!!) to him. The next morning in class, he asked me to stay because he wanted to chat with me. I thought to myself "oh boy he hates the pictures!" I sat down and he looked at me, smiled and said "Jason, I just wanted to thank you for doing such an amazing job, you have a gift for shooting people I have not seen in many of my students." Of course I was truly flattered... For the next 2 years of school he continued to push me to pursue a career in wedding photography - I thought he was nuts. I wanted to shoot for Vogue. :)

OK - fast forward, 10 years later. I have my own studio, many great clients and am on my way to a successful, lucrative commercial photography career. Curve ball. I get a phone call from Steven (the wedding photographer who I worked for since I was 17) telling me he has been diagnosed with cancer and has 6 months to live. Obviously, I am shocked and terribly upset - after so many years I considered him to be a second father and mentor.

Unfortunately, Steve only got 4 of those 6 months, but at least it gave me a chance to say goodbye. A few weeks later, Doris, his wife asked that one of the last orders of business was disconnecting the studio phone number, but she offered to forward the line to my studio if I was interested. In the words of Michael Corleone from the God Father - "Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in." :) Well - the phone starting ringing. One of the first phone calls was from a bride-to-be, I explained Steve had passed away and I was just getting started on my own taking a limited amount of weddings. She said "Jason? - Jason Groupp? Oh - MY - GO-!! You shot my Bat Mitzvah!!" Feeling very old (I had just celebrated my 30 bday) we chatted for a few minutes and she then asked if I was available for her wedding date. :)

At this point I am sure you are wondering where is going with this and why?

Well - I decided if I was going to do this on my own I really wanted to do something different, more personal and creative. It was around the time when PJ style shooting was starting to emerge and I knew it was the direction I wanted to go in. In the beginning, I had to convince some of Steve's referrals that this was the way to go. I couldn't believe that I was actually a full fledged wedding photographer realizing my professor's dream for me. Still, I was always looking for inspiration and others who were willing to share their ideas. A few years later, my friend Luke introduced me to a photography forum called OSP. It was a group of mostly west coast wedding photographers, many of them new to the business. Their ideas were young, fresh, and totally "out of the box". Since then I have become more acquainted with the community and made lots of new friends. This weekend while shooting in California I joined them for one of their "get-togethers", or as they called it an "unconference".

About 100 of the most talented people all gathered for a weekend of inspiration and an open sharing of ideas.

You guys have helped me "see" all over again and I can't thank you enough. It was awesome meeting each and every one of you. Hopefully we will all be together again soon!

I want to thank - Chris and Lynn and TJ for an amazing week of shooting - what a blast! (much more on this later)

There are a few people I also wanted to mention, if you visit their websites I think you will see how amazing this group of people are -

The first mention must go to the fabulous Tim Co.. Hope we see each other in NYC soon.

We wrapped up the weekend by spending an evening with Colin Michael and his family. They live in a beautiful place tucked into a vineyard - complete with a tree growing though the center of the home. Thanks so much for your hospitality, I cant wait to come back soon!

Jefferson, I am so happy we finally got to meet. I really enjoyed our chats, thanks for sharing all your business advice.

Tim and Mike, it was nice meeting you (again)- Luke reminded me we met 3 years ago in NY when we got together with DJ. Too funny. Hopefully I can win my 5 bucks back in a poker game soon.

Shannon may be the funniest photographer I have ever met. Thanks for the ab workout.

Ryan, Bill, Susan, and Shyla - so awesome meeting you guys.

Lori, as always it was great hanging with you too!

....and finally, my new east coast friend Sofia, we have been chatting for a while now, but haven't really had any time to hang out. Hopefully, we wont have to fly to the west coast to see each other again! :)

Check back tomorrow for more from our week long photo trek...


Anonymous luke walker said...

best entry that ive read on any blog in a while.... sweetness.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Shyla said...

Yay Jason! I am glad to see you got home safe and sound! ;)
I had fun with ya'all this week... Thanks again!!!

Oh and you werent kidding that that shot turned out awesome! Great job!!

1:52 AM  
Blogger Tim Co. said...

i concur! Jason you are truly an inspiration to so many people, myself first and foremost!

I can't wait to see more images from your trip - so far the images are SPECTACULAR!

NYC in just a couple weeks here for a nice shirley temple lol..

3:50 AM  
Blogger Hanagraphie said...

OMG Jason! It was such a pleasure meeting you in person! I had a blast with our small group and learned a lot from watching the 'masters' at work. Hopefully I can have another opportunity to see you in action once again sometime soon. Hope you're staying warm in NY... I hear it's a bit colder there than here in sunny Cali. ;)


2:01 PM  

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