Complete and execute the Alpha Kappa Camera plans - DONE!
Once upon a time, I had a dream. Well, last summer, to be specific. An unrealistic dream that made it all the way to my 101 in 1001 list.
In August of 2008, while attending a workshop in Kinvara, Ireland with my friends Melissa Jill and Arden Ward, I met another young up-and-coming photographer named Cristi Owen. Cristi and I were fast friends, to put it mildly. I mean, I hit it off with this girl in a HUGE way. We stayed up late together every night, talking and talking and talking…usually over brownies and milk. We confided in one another; discussed our businesses, our families, our dreams and goals and beliefs. Simply put, Cristi became a friend of my heart. We were so very different with so many things in common. This new relationship with one another was inspiring and encouraging and FUN, and thus arose the desire to start our own “club”, with MORE girls who could share in such relationships.
And so, at the prompting of MJ, (who actually named our group), Alpha Kappa Camera was born. We rushed to the nearest laptop to buy a domain name for our new sorority. Full of excitement and anticipation, at week’s end we headed home to Birmingham, Alabama and Phoenix, Arizona, and to the realization that we had no clue how to start a sorority out of thin air. Can one really do such a thing? Would only the two of us ever think this idea was viable or even fun? Was this a realistic dream? I think now, that it probably wasn’t. It would take some kind of miracle to both grow our businesses in the ways we desired over the next year, attract the kinds of girls we wanted to be a part of this group, plan a retreat for the next summer, and get people to actually come. Well, to our shock and surprise, all of that happened!
I headed out to Phoenix in December of 2008 to visit Cristi, and while I was there, we scoured the internet for three days together. We read more blogs than I had read collectively in my entire life. We were thrilled to find some prospective members, and then we proceeded to email them out of nowhere - clueless to whether anyone would even respond. And they did!!! We met up again at WPPI in February of this year, where we came up with some more prospective members - the list was coming together. And so we started planning a retreat for our new sorority! To steal a quote from someone on the retreat, what we planned was really “a blind date beach trip” for twelve women. The plan was to get these female photographers from all over the United States, who had never met, to all go on a trip together the last week of July - for business, shooting, networking, and friendship. There was no real agenda or mission statement…just a random invitation to come and play. The girls started reading each others blogs, emailing, some met at WPPI; and all but three were able to clear their schedules and travel to South Carolina on July 26th for our sorority initiation and retreat!
Alpha Kappa Camera became a reality in a beach house on Sullivan’s Island in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine women in one house…with a house mother…it could have been a disaster. But it was better than I could have ever imagined! Each woman had such a fresh perspective and spirit - truly, I was amazed at the interactions that unfolded over the week. We came from so many different places in life in every way; our beliefs, traditions, cultures, and backgrounds are incredibly varied. Yet, somehow, this crazy experiment was unimaginably successful. We had intimate conversations, we learned from one another, we shared our lives with each other…and we laughed! I was touched in a profound way by the whole experience. I made new friends - and I mean, I LOVE these girls. Each of them had an impact on my life, and I am so thankful for each and every one of them.
Want to meet the girls on the retreat with me? YAY! Here are some of my new friends:
Cristi Owen of Arizona
Kara Purtell of Michigan
Joanna Garcia of Texas
Samantha Warren of Maine
Shea Halliburton of Tennessee
Trina Knudsen of Utah
Lisette Price of Georgia
Lee Ann Fuller of North Carolina
(Last Image by Trina - I didn’t have a Vertical of Lee Ann!)
The other girls can be introduced on our next excursion - which is coming up pretty soon! I can’t believe that we made it and pulled this thing off - and had such a blast doing so. As Sam said, “This could be a model for peace building”, so hopefully the U.N. monitors our blogs. There are so many stories and images to share, they will by necessity be included in subsequent posts. But for now, “Bless Your Heart” to all those who weren’t there!!! What fascinating women to spend time with…I am blessed to know each of you…