Photographed by Amy & Tony Hoffer
Life is strange. In particular, it’s complicated. It’s hard to put into words the transformation that your heart can go through in a week or two, then to try to reconcile it with the life you live back home.
This was our third time in Kenya, working for eduKenya (Here is Part 1 and Part 2). Every day that we’ve gotten to spend with these wonderful people over the past 6 years has made us more grateful for life. The staff, the students and the teachers that are involved with this amazing organization all seem to realize what they have. In their school, they’ve found a bit of hope in a very, very difficult place (please see Part 1 or 2 to read some of that background).
This hope manifests itself in several ways: It comes out in the joy of the people involved, knowing that every day they bring themselves closer to leaving a cycle of poverty. Somehow even the young children seem to get this. It comes out in their work ethic as many of the children spend the entirety of their day working, learning and doing chores. It comes out in their attitude towards school, their teachers and their work.
It’s hard to leave eduKenya without a sweeping sense of hope… and a realization that if given a chance, these people are capable of great things. We’re so grateful to be part of an organization that’s trying to provide that chance. We hope these photos tell just a part of their powerful story…
This year we were honored to have Lindsay (again) and Jim join us on this journey. The photos below are a combination of images from the 4 of us. Enjoy!
Caitlin & David Elope in DC
Oh, the Hoffshop. Our way too sporadic, very tiring, incredibly rewarding and super stress-inducing love child. It’s been 2 years since we found ourselves on the giving end of a full-scale Hoffshop, mostly because it takes that long to recover from one. Back in August we decided it was time, Atlanta was the place and within about 10 seconds (no, really) we had all the people. The Hoffshop was on.
From the get-go we’ve always known that we wanted to treat workshops the same way we treat our work: differently. So much like our work, we try our best to keep the focus off of us and put it on the people that we’re there for. That gets us into some sticky situations… like when you’re looking someone in the eye and telling that they need to improve, guiding someone through one of their incredibly frustrating challenges or trying to coordinate 40 models in a city that’s 1000 miles away. The Hoffshop is hard for us and it’s harder for our students… but boy is it worth it.
We know that it’s tacky to share compliments, but alas that’s how these things get sold. So here’s a few words that have come in from our still-recovering students…
“Hoffshop was, hands down, the best investment I’ve made in my business. I learned more in those 3 days than I have learned in my last ten years of business.”
“Do not attend this workshop if you are not willing to listen to candid critique about your work. Skip it if you aren’t willing to incorporate sound advice into your shooting. Find something else to do if you want an easy, sit-and-listen workshop that won’t get you in the trenches of transformation. DO attend this workshop if you are willing to be challenged, to be encouraged, and to be a member of a fabulous community. Tony and Amy and the team are soulfully committed to each participant. For that I am eternally grateful.”
“You know what I loved? Jim went to Tony, must’ve told him the issue and Tony came up to me to give some one-on-one guidance. Now, in the past, photography idols have really disappointed me. Having Tony just patiently guide me and teach me to shoot in bite sized pieces was so confidence-inducing, I felt like I was floating. He helped me, in six minutes, learn how to be more intentional with a vision. The shot I struggled with for twenty-minutes, I nailed and while it won’t win awards… I got it done.”
“Individual critiques can be intimidating, unnerving, and humbling. But when done correctly they provide the basis for moving to the next level. Without the deep and thoughtful individual critiques Tony and them team did there would be no real direction on what I needed to improve.”
“I felt liked and valued. A stark contrast to the workshops and conferences I’ve done, where everyone just wants to brag about themselves. So if you’re wondering if it’s worth the cost, effort and frustration….I can wholeheartedly say this workshop is probably one of the best ones out there. I am eager for the next one, whenever that is. 2018 is going to be as transformative as I can make it and I owe my new sense of direction to the Hoffers and the Hoff Team. And now I’m die hard Hoffer Obsessed now. I have to go, so I can get Tony and Amy’s faces tattooed on my shooting arm. For good luck.”
Before we show you some images, we need to say a few more things. First, thank you to Lindsay, our champion of everything, for all your work in making this thing actually happen. Nobody noticed half the things you did, but we noticed them all. Thank you to Jim, Chris and Farid for your wisdom, guidance and mentoring. It’s so special to do this as a family. Thank you Molly and Michael, for sharing your home, your beds and to your puppy Remus for sharing some play time with Oliver. And thanks to all our friends in Atlanta that helped us organize and find models for this thing. You came through. Lastly, thanks to the students that poured their hearts into this thing, worked 40 hard hours in just 2.5 days and just absolutely killed it with their drive and humility. You inspire us and we’re so grateful that you trusted us to be part of your process.
We never really know when the next Hoffshop will be, but we’re hopeful for next winter. If you want to be a part, make sure to get on our Hoffshop Email List (no spam guaranteed) or follow us on Facebook or Instagram. These workshops sold out in about 10 seconds, so don’t be late to the party!
Here’s some images from 10 days in Atlanta. The behind-scenes-images are courtesy of Chris and Farid and the portraits were taken by us (Amy and Tony). Enjoy!