I’ve been trying to think of a perfect introduction for what I’m about to write. I thought about it all morning in between cleaning the bathroom (I’m so glad we just have one) and singing “This. Girl. is on FAI-YUHHH” (this girl is on fiii-err-errr-err). I head that song a lot of times last week and that’s it. It’s stuck in my brain. Anytime I feel like I need a nudge, I turn it back on. And it plays and I can do it all.
That’s the introduction then. Without me having to try too hard, I got it. Should I sing the song again?
The whole of last week I chose to volunteer my time as one of the documentation crew at the Rain City Rock Camp for Girls (RCRC). It’s a whole week’s worth of dance parties, intensive musical teaching and learning (considering their ages, of course), sisterhood and so many girls who rock that it makes your heart explode. At the beginning of the week, I knew I was not the best photographer to do all of this justice. I couldn’t help but think how much bigger this was that me. These girls were about to shed their inhibitions, break out of their shells and all those other metaphors that mean they were going to be awesome.
I know I’m not very technical when it comes to photography. I struggle a lot to get what I see through the lens on film. It’s very difficult for my mind to process things with numbers in them. I’ve asked for help, but whenever people start talking ISO, f-stop stuff my brain turns off. “Too many numbers,” it says, “I’m going to sleep.” Okay brain. Don’t let me stop you. I made (and still use) visual cues to understand the (somewhat) important things instead. It gets me by. I remember I had a photography class in my second year of college. It was one of the classes I was most looking forward to. I didn’t know why but it seemed easier than studying and barely passing economics, which they made us all take in year 1. BLEAHH, because remember the number thing I just spoke about? The photography teacher David DeSouza spent probably 1 class in the whole semester explaining ISO and appertureshutter (as he called it, to help us understand). I remember some of my friends complaining about that. Even though I sort of agreed with them, sitting right here right now, I’m entirely grateful. He introduced us to some of the greatest photographers, the most beautifully made photographs and even helped our class (along with two other colleges he taught at) to put together our first photography exhibition. He also appreciated my photo assignment (cat photos, of course) in front of my peers. I didn’t make it to that class, but I felt special all the same. He made me love photography.
Many years later, I still don’t completely fit in with the people that geek out on photography. Long hair, don’t care, I joined a photography club in Seattle and I go to the meetings with them anyway. I have no idea what they talk about most of the time but just hanging around their brains makes me feel like a creative genius. It also introduced my to my friend Lisa Y. Mendez, a supremely talented girrrrl artist/zine queen, who moved to San Diego last year. No longer in Seattle (boo!), she introduced me to RCRC. She sent me a “request” on behalf of the camp asking if I would volunteer as much time as I could for them. Er, YES. I said YES a million times in my mind even though I replied to her saying something like “I’m an okay photographer….are you crazy?”
I did it last week and even though I hid behind the camera most of the time, it was the most rewarding experience I’ve had in a while. I got to watch the girls turn into rockstars in five short days, watch (some of) their band coaches and counsellors go from exasperated to excited to proud. I also got to see transformations happen right before my eyes. I think I transformed too. It’s hard not to when people all around are telling you that you rock. That was the safest space I’ve ever been in since I moved here. My self-esteem went bungee jumping, sky diving and did headstands all around town just by watching it happen.
All those women and girls ROCK. I got to work with the best videographer/woman Mandy, the best photographers/ women Marj and Sieglinde. I got to see the most amazing girl guitarists, drummer, vocalists and percussionists in the world. I worked the life out of me to get visual representation of the magic that was happening that week. My photographs were awesome.
“The person I am in the company of my sisters has been entirely different from the person I am in the company of other people. Fearless, powerful, surprising, moved as I otherwise am only when I write.”
Franz Kafka, Diaries of Franz Kafka