I left Seattle on Saturday night amidst the rabid fervor of a city whose excitement for their team’s opportunity to play for a Super Bowl berth here in my part of the world was bordering on mass hysteria. Flags and jerseys were on everything from grandmas to children to Chihuahuas…Seattle itself was emblazoned in blue and green. The football fan in me was getting stoked but the Giants fan in me was green with envy.
I was back in Seattle to broadcast another 18 hours of live photography instruction on the education website, creativeLIVE.com. I have done 2 other stints here in Seattle over the past 8 months and this time it was to teach a 3-Day class in Table Top Photography Fundamentals. The first couple of times around I was fully in my wheelhouse teaching Food Photography and Styling, talking about Narrative Storytelling and building and using a Light Table. In preparing for these first classes my notes and anecdotes came very naturally, like the natural light in my studio. The experiences I was recounting were from a place where I have had my greatest successes and felt confident and sure of my ability to deliver.
These next instructional hours came from a very different place. It was pretty evident to my producer, Meg Gayman, that I was not initially thrilled with straying from my original intent to teach more Advanced Techniques in Food Photography. I wanted to stay in my comfort zone and that did not fit the plan that she and Head of Content Craig Swanson had for me. It was going to be Table Top, aimed at a very different audience and I was going to have to dig deep to make it work. My notes and anecdotes did not flow so freely this time. Carving and crafting this material to fit into 18 hours of walking the wire without a net felt much scarier this time around. If last time was a labor of love…this time I felt uneasy, like I did in my early years in education, teaching sex-ed to a room full of smirking teenagers. Thankfully, when it was over, I was exhausted but no longer scared and felt even more rewarded than the first time around. Meg and Craig pushed me further than I have been pushed professionally in quite a while and I am better for the experience. I think our content hit the mark and will stay with our audience for a long while.
Meg, of course, was not alone in ushering me to this place…which leads me back to football in Seattle. Those maniacal fans have a nickname that has gone viral lately and will be on full display these weeks leading to that coveted Super Bowl appearance that the ‘Hawks earned last night with a thrilling victory over their arch-rival 49ers. They are called the 12th Man. For you football novices, the game is played with 11 per side and the fans in Seattle…because of their noise and wild support have adopted the 12th Man moniker. This reflects how their super fandom has led their team to the best home record in the NFL over the past 2 seasons. The team fully acknowledges that they have indeed been inspired and sometimes even aided by the crowd noise. It played out again in last night’s game. The Seattle creativeLIVE Crew was most definitely my personal 12th Man during this past week.
I was still pretty unsteady about this workshop until I walked into the office on Tuesday and then something profound happened. I relaxed. I saw the familiar faces of those I have worked with and some I just know from the casual interactions at the studio. That pressure I felt to carry the show went away with the knowledge that my 12th Man had my back. Everywhere I turned there was someone there to insure the success of these 3 days. From production to camera to sound to catering everyone was on my page. Again, my thanks come directly from the heart. I truly love working with such amazing professionals who are as easy to like, as they are to work with.
With affection and gratitude:
Thanks of course to Arlene, George, Amanda and Celeste for having such confidence in me to keep bringing me back to Seattle.
Meg- Thank you for being a force under that little voice and sweet smile. It didn’t fool me for one second. You are a hurricane and I’m glad you are on our team.
Craig- Thanks for pushing me. One can only know what we are capable of once we get to the edge.
Lindsay- I felt reassured every time I looked over at you off set. Our conversations always made me feel like just being myself on camera would never betray me.
John- I cannot express fully what your presence there meant to me. You were kind of the deal breaker…I’m not sure I would have ever had been as comfortable with this material without you.
Darcy- The set only happens to look like a place familiar and comfortable for me to work in because of your vision and sensitivity. Thank you so much for taking the time and putting in the careful effort to give me my tools. Your input was invaluable.
Kate- sourcing and wrangling all of that gear was by no means a small endeavor. We navigated every issue seamlessly and that was in big part to how hard you worked to get us prepared.
Dan’Yelle- your instincts for styling and propping were only matched by your efficiency. You kept me moving, hydrated and happy on set. You were the glue (or the gaffers tape)
Jim & Cathy- you both are so much fun to work with. Striking that balance between education and entertainment is never easy but it comes so naturally to you both. You guys were my screen pass…I could always go to it when I was in trouble.
Will, Willy, Sam, Tracy, Noah, Boone and Riley- thanks for making it look dynamic and as beautiful as humanly possible with a middle-aged bald man for a subject. You guys really do operate in Beast Mode.
Kellen- in spite of your epic miscalculation of playing One Direction in Studio A when the father of a teenage girl is trying to get in a good head space…you still make me smile and I love how you work. The sound was terrific in spite of me smacking the mic constantly.
Caitlin- whenever anyone sneaks up on me from now on I will expect one of you to be behind me with a LAV, some tape and about 3 seconds to get it done.
Thanks also to go Tyler in the booth. The sound when we had 6 people on set talking could not have been an easy navigation.
Thanks to Nikoma for making me significantly less shiny. I sat next to Snooki on the plane ride home and wondered how we were on the opposite spectrum of what people in your field have to deal with.
Carolyn- having specific needs, especially my food needs met when working is so important… thanks for putting up with yet another pain in the neck eater.
Thanks to our students: Paola, Katherine, Natalia, Robert, Mike, Leah and Danielle. It is always so refreshing to have smart, energetic people in front of me when I am teaching. I know it cannot be easy to sit there, on camera for that long and look interested, engaged and excited. I am honored to have had you all in this class. You were all wonderful and your work on Day 3 was outstanding.
And to everyone else at cL that I see and speak to and joke and bond with, thanks. You make Seattle feel like home.
You are all certainly my personal 12th Man.