"Ryan Muirhead is hosting a workshop in Scotland this October. Wanna go?"
Bryana had just tuned into one of Ryan's Instagram live stories, literally just announcing the workshop for the first time. It was a random spring day, the idea seemed wild, and I simply replied, "lets go!"
Wedding season flew by quicker than usual, and soon we found ourselves working a wedding together in Munising on the final Sunday of September, then crossing the Atlantic less than 24 hours later. Originally we thought we'd be ridiculously ambitious and drive through the night to Chicago to save on flight expenses (flying out of the UP can be spendy!), but we fortunately found a cheaper than typical connection from Hancock to beat the grueling, over-caffeinated road trip. In result we found ourselves stuck at O'Hare for over 12 hours in layover time. Both of us being photographers however, we were able to go on an editing spree and knocked out most of our work that would've kept us busy on our Macs in Europe while we could've been hiking more. We flew Icelandair and touched down on Reykjavik soil for just a handful of minutes. Only a few hours later we broke through the clouds patched above Glasgow where we were greeted by a rainbow arching over the quayside.
Bryana is a seasoned European traveler. She took a six week tour of various countries with a group friends just over a year before. Fortunately the UK is primarily English speaking, but the twist came with getting a rental car. Stick shift? Not a problem. Factor in driving on the left side of the road, shifting with your left hand, and the foreign street signs though, and then it gets a little complicated, ha! Within a few days I felt more confident, but their giant, oval roundabouts with multiple traffic signals and the unfamiliar spatial awareness that comes with driving on the opposite side definitely took a little getting used to. Bryana can attest with all of the close call sideswipes on her side as passenger, hahaha.
Our lodging for the first two nights was a clean, mod, very European Airbnb right on the River Clyde.
Immediate differences noted in the UK versus the US:
- Everyone drinks instant coffee at home!??!?! As a coffee snob, I was rather appalled. Most Airbnbs did come equipped with a French press however, so there were redeeming qualities. Plus their coffee shops were amazing.
- Most showers were electric on a switch.
- It's common for washing machines to be in your kitchen.
- The Scottish cities are way more accommodating to vegetarians, vegans, and all other diets versus the United States. The food was so fresh and so amazing!
- Their heat registers in their bathrooms doubled as heated towel racks 'to warm up yer bum.'
Later on our first night, we met the group of photographers we'd be workshopping with at Duke's Bar in the Finnieston area. Getting to know each other the night before made everything less awkward with a lot more humanness.
Day two commenced the workshop at another beautiful Airbnb on a somewhat sketchy street. While I was excited and knew this workshop would be fulfilling, I wasn't sure what I was expecting to get out of it. I'd been in the midst of a creative fog. I felt like I was having a hard time connecting with other humans, and I really wasn't sure what I could contribute to others.
As soon as Ryan began speaking, we fell silent and listened deeply. His story was beyond moving. What he had to say was rich with pains familiar and foreign to me, but inspiring all the same. It seemed there were a million things I wanted to chime in on, agree with, or relate aloud with a story of my own to make a connection, but instead I found myself locked in silence, simply absorbing and observing. In the end when we were all left to photograph the models and each other, I hardly took a couple frames I actually liked. But the words Ryan spilled for us to digest and the way he'd stop and see things, document things, like the weird ways we seat ourselves when we're thinking or feeling a specific emotion... his nature resonated with us all. Absorbing and observing was all I needed to say it was completely worth it.