be a beginner

In Community, Inspiration
Scroll this

I had the honor and privilege of attending Firefly Photography Camp a few weeks ago. It is difficult for me to put into words what the camp meant to me personally.


The atmosphere at Westerbeke Ranch is incredible. The cabins are shabby chic and filled with character. The beds are super comfy and have big down comforters to keep you warm on those cool Sonoma evenings. The food is not only farm to table and full of flavor, but beautifully presented at each meal.


The group of women that filled the camp was so full of life and of talent. It was encouraging for me to be around 50 like-minded women for five days. Not only was photography encouraged and talked about repeatedly, but all the women were artists in other mediums as well. We had cooks and writers and painters. The excitement and thoughtfulness that artists bring to the table were apparent at each part of the camp, whether it was in classes or during our group time.


Each camper had the opportunity to take five classes. The class lists were so extensive it was difficult for me to only choose five. One class that I took was the Food Styling class from Shutterbean author Tracy Benjamin. She was, much like all the teachers, very generous and full of information in her field. But food styling wasn’t the only thing I learned in her class. Two of the students in the food styling class were also teachers of other classes. They are women that are at the top of their field. To me, they had to know everything about everything. However, during our class, they were asking questions and engaging in the process, and while they definitely brought their amazing talents to the table, I watched as they took in all the information. This is when it hit me- Even if you are at the top of your field in photography, you do not know everything and should not stop learning.


In fact, a teacher at camp, Julieanne Kost, gave us this advice, “Every year you should try something new because it is good to be a beginner.”


It is good to be a beginner. It is good to try something new. It is good to ask for help and learn from someone that has mastered their craft. So while I am going to continue to try and master a few of my heart’s passions, I will also be trying new things and practicing being a beginner.




~Staci Lee


  1. Yes!! It hadn’t even occurred to me that Pei and Julianne were “beginners” in Tracy’s class! But you are so right! I think this is why I love gathering like this— we all have something to learn and to teach💕

  2. Just last week I wrote here about the joy and necessity of being a rookie at every stage of life. I think the fact that you have hit on a similar theme is a kind of synchronicity – an underscore from the universe saying, “pay attention to this idea.”

  3. Such a great insight, and so true. Whether it’s tackling a new language, trying alt photo processes, or taking a cooking class I find that broadening my mind with new learning spills over into so many other parts of life. Thanks for a beautifully illustrated commentary.

  4. you have the best kind of open mind and you are always learning, I have been able to watch you grow and grow and evolve and it’s all so beautiful. Your talent is a gift for us all who get to see what you share with us.

  5. The beginners minds is a zen thing and it’s so true. It gets us back to that childlike place of playing and being messy. Thank you so much for the reminder – I whole heartedly agree. And I LOVE your photos too 🙂

  6. Loved watching you all learn and play in the food styling class … and I’m resonating with your insight here. I’m going to take your and Julieanne’s advice and keep on practicing being a beginner … that’s where the freedom is!

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.