Giving Thanks!
November 24th, 2011

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, and, despite what has been a very difficult year for me, I actually have a lot for which to be exceptionally thankful. I have friends, family, and colleagues for whom I am incredibly thankful, but today in this space I’d like to thank a group of people who came into my life somewhat by design, but who have had a very unexpected impact. Those are the participants of the Within The Frame photographic adventures.

In the last year and a half, fifty-one individuals have decided to accompany David duChemin and me on adventures in Italy, Nepal, Croatia, Laos, Cambodia and Mexico. Others have already signed up to join us in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

When David and I first started brainstorming what we wanted to do, how, and where, it was very easy to get excited about sharing with other photographers the corners of this world that I love. It was also easy to be excited about helping others along their own photographic journeys. However, for some reason, I never fully considered the impact that these individuals would have on me. Perhaps this is because initially they are unknowns, strangers. We don’t know who will decide to join us. But for whatever reason they do.

We have had some participants who have returned many times. One has been with us on nearly half of our adventures, and I look forward to welcoming her on many more. Others we’ve only seen on one adventure, but that doesn’t mean that their impact on me was any less. Far from it.

Some of the participants have done things and said things that still resonate in my mind—in some cases more than a year later. Some provided support to me during an incredibly difficult time this spring, and despite the fact that I had just met them they felt like dear friends immediately. They still are. I have been invited to the homes of, and enjoyed the incredible hospitality of, Within The Frame alumni, and I have bumped into others, and shared additional time together, while traveling this beautiful world. I have even made friends with friends of Within The Frame alumni while traveling and have traveled with them. Some Within The Frame alumni have sent me beautiful photographs and photography books from their adventures.

These Within The Frame alumni have come from all corners of the world—Australia, Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, Dubai, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and other places that I’m certainly forgetting. They are doctors, firemen, jewelers, photographers, housewives, editors, fundraisers, retirees, lawyers, executives, students, managers, musicians, programmers, consultants, writers, translators, etc. All with a passion for photography, but, more importantly, all with a passion for life and other people.

To be perfectly honest, when I look at the current list of Within The Frame alumni I’m at a loss for words to describe the impact—the beautifully positive impact—that these people have had on me. These are amazing people. Some are now dear to me for life. Others I may never see again but will hope to always remember. And fondly. Very fondly.

Today I would like to give thanks to these individuals. To those of you reading this who might know one or more of these individuals, then you already know what wonderful people they are.

To you, the Within The Frame alumni, I would like to say that, in your own ways, each of you has made me a better person. I would travel with each of you again. I would share wine with each of you. I would dine with each of you. I would laugh with each of you. And I would cry with each of you. Again and again. If you ever need anything from me, then I hope that I can be there for you. You are amazing people. And I’m thankful for having had the pleasure of sharing even a small part of this life, this planet, and your photographic journeys with you. You are…

Robert Ardinger
Claude Biron
Emme Blee
Claudio Bussandri
Joanna Charron
Ilse Cornelis
Jay Desind
Camille Dohrn
Robert Durkin
Kerry Ellis
Jeffrey Fielding
Natalie Forchuk
Michelle Geoga
Amanda Goolsby
Dan Goossens
Fernando Gros
Anne Groton
Eve Hannah
Nikki Harris
Cynthia Haynes
Janat Horn
Michael Jordan
Ty Keennon
C.J. Kern
Andrée Lawrey
Marjan Leeuwesteijn
Wendy Lockhart
Rosa Macías
Lisa Osta
Anish Reddy
Eli Reinholdtsen
Victor Allen Rowley
Robert Royer
Wendy Royer
Marco Ryan
Christy Sampson
Ekta Saran
Stuart Sipahigil
Jens Stachowitz
Stephen Starkman
Jessica Marie Taylor
Luciano Teghillo
Sander van Hulsenbeek
Amie Vanderford
Anna Velkey-Solvberg
Chris Ward
Leonie Wise
Mein Wong
Enis Yücel

Thank you! From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

PS — Where I know of a website for any of these Within The Frame alumni, you can click on their name to access it. (If you are one of them, then please send me any updates.)

18 Responses to “Giving Thanks!”

  1. Marjan says:

    Speechless after reading this heart-touching story…… Thank you Jeffrey, for translating your feelings into such beautiful words! I’m proud and happy to be your friend.

  2. What a beautiful post. Just one more reason I hope to join one of your adventures someday. I am fortunate to know a few of the people on this list, and I agree with every word you say. The community that has gathered around you and David is truly something special. Happy Thanksgiving, Jeffrey!

  3. Rosa says:

    Thank you Jeffrey!
    Got so many reasons to thank that trip to Italy for… Thanks!!

  4. Amie says:

    Thank YOU, Jeffrey. You are an amazing person and an amazing photographer. My time with you and fellow WTF participants in Nepal last year was the beginning of my lifelong dreams coming true through fully immersing myself in the type of photography I’ve always wanted to do. You all inspired me and encouraged me and have become friends that I absolutely adore. I will always remember that you were there in the beginning of this wonderful phase of my life, and I definitely hope that our paths cross again! I know Memphis isn’t a very exciting place, but if you are ever down there for some reason, you have a place to stay, plus Jason would love to meet you, too. :) And who knows, the world is a small place, who knows where we might meet up again! Keep on rockin’!

  5. Eli R. says:

    I am delighted by how the world opens up when I just dare to say ‘yes’ when an opportunity arises. That is how xWTF started for me over two years ago when I signed up to go to Italy. Both you and David immediately responded back and coincidentally David had just picked one of my images for his podcast series so he already ‘knew’ who I was when I wrote.

    When we finally met in Genoa I felt we had been friends for a long time already. Then followed Nepal, Italy again (with David’s fall) and then Laos this year. Saying goodbye in Bangkok this year it was strange to know we had no ‘appointment’ booked.

    But if you ever come to Norway… Oh wait! You did… :-) So I guess we can sort of add the xWTF mini-alumni to the list.

    Not just for your presence with your whole heart always, but thank you for giving advice on my images and saying ‘I hate you’ when you loved them :-)

    Happy thanksgiving, Jeffrey. May many new doors open in the years to come.

  6. Jeffrey Chapman says:

    It’s beautifully paradoxical that on a day that I wished to give thanks to so many wonderful people that I would receive such beautiful emails, messages as well as comments here that I’m left in tears. My most sincerest and humblest of thanks to all of you!

  7. Ekta Saran says:

    I’ve had my name on many a list before. This kinda beats them all :)

    Thank you for an amazing time and a whole lot more to come.

    Thank you for the guidance. Along with the silliness.

    And lastly, borrowed from an Arabic lost in translation moment…

    ‘Thank you for you’

    Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  8. Luciano says:

    Jeffrey I only wish I could be there to give you a huge hug. You are truly an amazing friend! If not before I am sure will cross path again here in Italy. Ciao

  9. Danielle says:

    I have not had the fortune or pleasure (yet) of attending a WTF adventure with yourself and David, but truly hope to one day in the not too distant future. Your warmth, vulnerability and openness is so beautiful and refreshing, and it is clear why so many people are drawn to you. Wishing you many blessings.


  10. I want to echo all of the people here who have been WTF participants and who have lucky enough to call you a traveling companion and friend, Jeffrey. While we learned much about photography, we also learned much about life and how it’s lived. We should certainly be thanking you for that.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and I hope our paths cross again soon.

  11. Jeffrey-

    A big thank you. I will never forget the you, David, and the others that we spent two great weeks with in Italy. It was way more than a workshop for me, and I’ve made some great friends because of it. Thank you, I hope to see you soon.


  12. Leonie says:

    So incredible to travel with you and get to know you a little. Honoured to be a part of this list. Grateful for everyone in our merry band of travellers. Thanks for having the vision and making it happen.

    It won’t be the last time we meet; of that I am certain.

    Would love to have you visit in London and share some more stories over good food and excellent wine.

    Hoping every year is better than the one before and there is more and more to be grateful for.

    Happy Thanksgiving, and all other days

  13. Ian Mylam says:

    A thoughtful post as ever, Jeffrey. I hope to become one of your alumni before too long. Best wishes.

  14. Cynthia Haynes says:

    My words seem to fail to properly express how beyond thrilled and grateful I am to have met you, to have shared all the high and low experiences that we have thus far, and to now call you my dear friend, so I borrowed these from that prolific wordsmith, Anonymous:

    “In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you . . . some will use you . . . and some will teach you. But most importantly . . . some will bring out the best in you.”

    Thank you, Jeffrey, for continually bringing out the best in me. For always teaching me. For testing me in only the best of ways. For many, many reasons, the world is a better place because you are in it. Lucky world. Lucky us.

    With great affection, gratitude and love, Cynthia

  15. Melissa Reed says:

    I can’t wait to go to Italy in the Spring – then I can experience first hand all the hoopla! :)

  16. Stefan says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    If someone thanks his Audience on this way it must be a special person. Looking forward to meet eachother in Liguria, Italy next year.

    Wish you and your family all the best for next !
    Cheers from The Netherlands

  17. jilske says:

    And thank you for sharing pieces of you with your participants. Obviously you are being paid to do so – but you could have done it with less heart, less enthusiasm and less dancing! Not sure if it would be possible to have done it with more.

    There’s a saying “life’s not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away”. WTF could have been a lifetime, and it is.
    Hope that makes it easier for those weighing cost vs days spent traveling ;-)

  18. CJ Kern says:

    Jeffery, I don’t know why it has taken me so long to read this post. Except I was sitting here thinking, I haven’t heard anything from you in awhile so I shot over here to check up on you so to speak. Being a WTF alumni is something I’ll always treasure, not just because of the places we’ve seen but the people I’ve met and along the way. I’m also sure I’ll join you and David on another WTF adventure.

    Don’t forget, next time your in NYC area and the weather is nice I’ve got a spare bike you can borrow, we need to go for a ride.

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