My First Time at SNAP Photo Festival
Interview with Rich Warley
After I interviewed the lovely Alice Lodge Photography, I shared the post in the SNAP photography community asking for other people interested in sharing their own experience. I was really pleased to see so many to come forward, mentioning how SNAP had been a turning point in their career and, sometimes, even in their personal life.
This month we have the pleasure to share Rich Warley's story about his first time at SNAP photo festival. In case you're not aware, Rich is one half of the creative duo Emma + Rich and if you have never seen their work, then you're missing out.
What point of your photography career were you when you attended SNAP?
I was still very much a weekend warrior but I knew that I wanted to take things more seriously. Emma had been shooting weddings for a couple of years but we were both in full-time employment at the time, using precious holiday days to attend the festival.
What were your fears before attending it?
At that point in my life, I was struggling quite severely with mental health issues and had been diagnosed with General and Social Anxiety Disorder, Severe Depression, PTSD, Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. So I was worried (I was always worried) about how I'd react to having to spend the best part of a week with over a hundred strangers.
However, Emma reassured me that she'd be with me all week and I could always sneak off to our tent if things started to get a bit overwhelming.
It turns out that everyone was so chilled out that the only time I did a runner was during the very first night when we all gathered together for the first time.
Over the course of the festival, so many people were open about their emotions and struggles that I truly realised I wasn't alone.
How was SNAP different from other photography events you had attended before?
The only thing I'd been on before was an intimate workshop in France with the effervescent SNAPster Anna Pumer which was more of a one to one deal with only a few attendees.
SNAP was much, much larger.
Loads of different speakers and attendees who all came from different backgrounds and had various styles and approaches. It struck me that one person would stand up and explain how they got these amazing pictures and how they interacted with their clients and then the next speaker would often contradict them and still be getting amazing shots.
There was such a broad spectrum of styles and I found myself furiously taking notes as the knowledge flowed so that I could later digest it all and pick out the things that I wanted to apply to myself.
As Babb says, "Take what you need."
How would you say SNAP affected your work?
Before SNAP I would say I was a wedding photographer. My work was fine.
After SNAP I started to become a good wedding photographer.
It was two weeks after SNAP that we shot our next wedding and the difference to our previous work was noticeable. It was like we had gone up a gear.
SNAP showed me all the moves of the dance and gave me the confidence to hit the dancefloor rather than standing on the edge.
What was the first thing you did coming back from the photo festival?
Emma went upstairs for a bath and I laid down on the kitchen floor and cried. I sobbed my heart out for the first time in 20 years.
Many of the people I met had spoken about their own issues and insecurities, these were people who I had long admired in the industry as well as some folks who were totally new to me.
I learnt that my messed up brain wasn't going to be the end of me, that I could thrive and that emotional sensitivity could actually be a strength. The relief brought me to tears.
What would you suggest to people who'd like to attend SNAP for the first time?
Take lots of notes. There's so much information being shared It's hard to take it all in.
Stay up late and have a chat with people. You can learn even more just by hanging out with your fellow attendees. Go up to that "rock star" photographer and say "Hi, I love your work. How did you get that crazy shot?" There's a surprising lack of egos at SNAP.
Finally, leave your cynicism at home. SNAP does feel like a little hippy commune and it's fantastic. Go with an open mind and heart and you'll leave with a shit-load of new skills and even some new friends.