Psst...come in a little closer..I’ve got a secret.
This secret has been the hardest to keep. I can’t tell you how many times I almost just screamed it out because the excitement is overwhelming! Is it too late to write this entire blog in all caps? I still kind of whisper it whenever I talk about this adventure out of fear I’ll jinx it! Like maybe the universe meant for this to go to another Beth Phillips and if I say it too loud it will have to be corrected..lol!! #SupersticiousIsMyMiddleName
Early this past fall I was having a typical night of total insomnia that only mindless web surfing can cure. I was hitting all my favorite photographers’ and dancers’ Instagram feeds so I could see all the places I was not and dream about all the things that could be (because self doubt is a great thing to fall asleep to…LOL!). Somewhere around 3 AM I had a 30 second burst of courage that pushed me to email one of my biggest idols, Rachel Neville. Nothing too formal, just Hey, I’ve always loved your work..if you ever have a workshop I’d love to be on the mailing list...Thanks bye.
Let me give you a little insight to the photographer Rachel Neville. She’s my Annie Leibovitz. Her work is my Neiman Marcus catalog to drool over. Her Instagram feed has set the bar of all the ways to measure my skill set. If you’ve ever looked at an ad for the Boston Ballet, you’ve probably seen her work. If you’ve googled “best dance Photogrpaher”, chances are you’ve seen her work. Her studio in New York City has been graced with some of the biggest names, and aspiring names, in the professional dance world. Nine times out of ten when I’m looking at a professional dancer’s photos, there will be at least one portrait from Rachel Neville.
I pretty much assumed my email would be dropped into an abyss of received messages and that would be it. The next day my jaw dropped when I saw there was a response sitting in my Inbox. That alone nearly made me die! I thought for sure it’s just a polite canned response of thank you so much we get so many requests but have no plans to do workshops...best of luck. Wrong again. It was Rachel’s incredibly kind assistant Anna asking what type of education I was looking for and had a few dates 6 and 12 months out. We exchanged a few more emails over the next day. Little did I know, they were checking me out. I got an email from Anna that said “Rachel would love to chat with you. Would you be free for a phone call tomorrow?” Wait...WHAT? Hold up! WHAT? How...Wha...wait...what? 48 hours ago I was a sleepless person that took a leap and now I was setting up a time to talk to someone I’ve admired for years! Someone pinch me!
WE TALKED THE NEXT DAY! We had a great conversation about the dance world, photography and being moms on top of business owners. She talked about some of my work and a few tweaks she noticed right away, then asked me what I wanted out of a workshop. I gave some Uber lame answer of learning how she makes fabric move and then came the bomb I knew was coming. She said I don’t think a workshop is the right fit for you. My heart and stomach sank.
I fully understood and was just over the moon to have her feedback on even one image of mine. You know how the brain speeds up from flight or flight and 3 seconds seems like 3 hours? In the 3 second pause between that and her next sentence, I had a plan to just keep on trucking on and maybe try again in a few years.closing up shop and back to being the best I could. NOPE, that’s not where it ended. She invited me to be a part of her 2 year mentor ship program going to her studio every few months to shoot, as well as regular assignments! Let me just say that again, a mentor program..in dance photography with one of my idols.
Here goes. It’s time to have my shouting from the rooftops moment….
I’M GOING TO NEW YORK CITY TO LEARN FROM THE GREATEST IN THE INDUSTRY!!!!
Once I processed it, the three most practical people in my life heard the details and all three basically said this isn’t the type of thing you turn down. So, I went with my gut, listened to my husband and trusted friends, and didn’t back away from committing the next two years of my life to become the most killer dancer photographer this side of Pennsylvania! (I’d say Mississippi, but Rachel’s got that covered..lol!)
This February I get to spend a long weekend in NYC to kick off my education. She has already warned me these weekends together will be intense. We will be working with dancers from 9 years old to professional dancers currently working on Broadway and everything in-between. I keep equating this to getting my Masters in Fine Art. It will be a lot of work and a lot of fun at the same time.
February will be possibly the craziest month of my career. Before heading off to Rachel’s studio, I’ll be heading down to Florida with a couple great local photographers to attend ClickAway conference. All the classes I got were my first choices! One about shooting short videos to add my photo shoots. And one that I think is totally undervalued and not thought about enough, mastering photography for all skin tones.
So that’s it! That is my huge gigantic secret that has been so hard to keep!
I’m so excited about all the things 2018 has planned for myself and the studio. The last two years at Beth Phillips Photography we have grown by leaps and bounds. I’m just over joyed to watch it all come together.
Have an amazing start to the New Year!