Wednesday night the wind blew and the rain fell and on Thursday morning things felt different. It was the final day of the seminar. How do you put into words the feeling when new life has been breathed into you? How do you put into words the excitement you feel to be on your way home to see your beautiful family?

The crisp autumn New England air makes you appreciate life. And the saturated reds, yellows and oranges in the canopy above you make your smile stretch just a little bit wider. It’s beautiful up here, but it sure isn’t home.

After class yesterday I stood by the pond with my camera and watched the colorful leaves blow to the ground, ushering in an obvious change of seasons. But today, however, they represent something more than that.

How sick is it that we spend all day long in a seminar and then night after night, we all sit side by side in the hallway of our lodge, 12 of us, laptops in hand, working, talking, laughing, inspiring, reminiscing and growing. Hours pass like minutes and sleep is reserved for the long flights home. I’ve never seen anything like it, but it happens every single time we get together.

Last night at dinner I was reflecting on the past three days in Vermont. We’ve been so blessed this year. We have a wonderful family, we found an awesome studio space that will allow us to expand, and the business is going better than we could have imagined. We’ve spent some amazing time this year with some outstanding photographers, everywhere from California, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Florida, Colorado, New York, and a host of other locations. Each person we’ve met has inspired us to push harder, reach further, and love stronger than we ever have before. And now we’re looking forward to another great GTG in a few weeks when 75 photographers descend upon Chattanooga.

Each time we have the opportunity to get together we are reminded of how blessed we are to be a part of such a caring and giving community of professionals. Everyone wants the other one to succeed and we are eager to provide the stepping-stones to help others reach their fullest potential.

And no one wants us to succeed more than Joe Buissink. I first met Joe last January in Miami. It was a large seminar with more than 200 photographers. I arrived a few minutes late and ended up sitting near the back of the room. Even still, through rows and rows of heads, he spoke directly to me. If you’re fortunate enough to spend time with him, you know what I mean.

He’s a phenomenal photographer, but he’s an even better person. And I remember how excited and inspired I was after our time in Miami. I felt he had given us direction for our business, and that our direction, like his, was determined by passion.

A couple months later we were shooting a wedding in St. Pete when we received the message that Joe had suffered a heart attack the night before. I remember at the first sign of a break, exiting to the hallway and sending up a prayer for him and his family. It was hard to concentrate that day.

Fast-forward to today: Joe is healthy. But after spending 3 solid days with him in a more intimate class setting, I’m convinced that his heart attack was due to the fact that he loves so much and uses his heart so intensely that there is nothing else to give.

Joe shoots from the heart more than any photographer I’ve ever met, and his passion is evident in everything he does. People are beautiful to Joe, as they should be. But he can see it like no one else. And that's what I love. Some photographers have to finesse lighting or massage post-processing to make a person beautiful, but all Joe has to do is take their picture.

Our good friend Rachel, from LaCour Photography in Atlanta, recently had the opportunity to shoot with Joe, and she described him best when she called him “a gentle soul.”

And last night before dinner I heard someone say, “I feel like I’ve been given a new lease on life.” That’s big.

Thanks Joe, and the 11 other outstanding photographers (TJ Cameron, Regis Chen, Alisha Nelson, Jim Cook, Lori Creech, Frank Dimeo, Jason Groupp, Kim Jarman-not pictured above, Melissa Schwartz, Scott Watt and Luke Walker). Keep focusing ahead and may God continue to bless each one of you.

Finally, thank you Joy and Graycen. I can’t wait to hold you.


Anonymous said...

Awesome post G$, can't wait to meet you in a few :)

Jim Cook said...

I echo your comments and could not have possibly written it better myself! You rock Garrett!!!

Regis said...

Garrett, you have a way with words. Why do you have to make me get all choked up.

Frank DiMeo said...

Excellent Garrett! I couldn’t agree more. I would add one thing though. All that stuff you said about Joe is you looking in the mirror bud.

Honestly, I feel the same way about you too. You are a very special person my friend and I appreciate every moment we get to share together.

I already can’t wait for the next time.

Holritz Photography said...

Two posts on this blog in a row have gotten me teary. Glad we'll see you soon. Wish we had been able to make this seminar happen.

Lets do a photography couples retreat soon.

Newlyweds and salsa. What fun!

loves to both of you.


Daniel J. Watkins said...

Awesome words Garrett. Totally wish I could have been part of that experience. Why does the caring group of professionals have to be so dang expensive to be a part of???? LOL Must keep reminding self...family comes first...I can't do it all...family comes first...I can't do it all...ooops...time for some M&Ms...

Anonymous said...

I know I am chiming in late here, but well said man. I look forward to the next time!!