Hi everyone. It has been awhile since I posted...again. But this time I have an amazing journey and experience to help explain why. For those who are into photography and art, there has been a new place to hone your craft and find a mentor, using an old school process. This is the Arcanum. It is the brainchild of Trey Ratcliff, one of the original photographers to create HDR photographs, as well as the most followed photographer on Google+. Myself, Isabel, and Stephanie, were all fortunate enough to be invited into the beta program of the Arcanum as apprentices. But before I get into that journey, maybe I should explain what the Arcanum is? Don’t worry, I’ll also talk about the HOW and the EXPERIENCE soon


Trey describes the Arcanum as a Magical Academy of Artistic Mastery. But what does that mean? How is it different? Trey has been a very big proponent of sharing information. Not hiding the how or why’s he does things, but openly encouraging people to go out and learn. One of the issues he found though was that with most online based learning, it was very one sided, and classrooms were extremely short duration. Online, you signed up, and watched whatever videos you chose, you don’t really get any additional information, or access to someone to answer specific questions. In a classroom you could spend $300 for a 3 hour session, but then it’s over. The Arcanum is based around the old practice of a master and apprentice. In this case, one master, and a small group of apprentices (20 here) where he interacts with each one, offers advice, critique, leadership, as well has having them interact with each other to help grow. So that’s neat, it’s based on the old ways of doing things. How does that really make things different? Well one, your master gets to learn who you are over a longer period of time, they can style a series of missions and challenges that will help you grow in the areas you want to, or to fix weaknesses. Many of these short courses and online videos just don’t do this. It’s all how to do this and that, but not WHY you would want to do that yourself. How it will help you.


So there it is, that is what the Arcanum is. Getting you in touch with a master who will get to know you personally and help guide you, but not determine your final outcome. That is part of your own journey. So how is this done? Well www.thearcanum.com is the beginning. The page currently does very little unfortunately. You can create an account, apply as an apprentice or a master, and once you have accepted a request from a master, you gain access to the Grand Library, as well as a profile page for your cohort, the group of apprentices under your master. Really, that’s about it. The Grand Library is a collection of videos put together from all of the masters in the Arcanum. These are industry leaders and brilliant artists. Many of the videos are extremely moving, some are filled with great tips and tricks, and some just give you an idea of who everyone is. The majority of the actual interaction actually takes place through Google+. Now for some this is kind of underwhelming as we all have access to Google+. Nothing special about that. The one great thing is that this platform is the only one that gives us so many wonderful tools that make it work. The Hangouts are used for recording the critiques done by your master, as well as arranging meetings between the apprentices, for fun or for help. The communities private nature allow us to share work we may not be done, or want honest feedback on, and to show updates, etc. Although there is an issue with sharing in the communities, but they are working on that. The Youtube integration, photo sharing, private communities, Google drive, the Arcanum is using all aspects, and also working on building up the Arcanum website itself to add in more features. So we have an old school approach, being combined with the use of a free platform...Honestly, doesn’t sound that exciting. However they’re not what make this actually worthwhile. It is…


The experience with a attentive master. The experience of meeting so many amazing apprentices, some of the best out there. Many who are like yourself, not always sure where to go next, or where we need to improve. You find out these peers who you have followed, are very much the same as yourself. You support each other, we’ve all become fast friends and constantly learn from each other. For myself, I’ve never been big on photos with textures, and part of the our process was to help give peer feedback on photos. Many of the photographers used textures extensively, and when I looked at them closely, it was amazing how they blended in and brought something extra to the photo. Not all are done well, but I gained an appreciation for the ones that are through the amazing pieces my fellow apprentices brought out, to the point I’m considering learning to use them! I’ve been in a number of spontaneous hangouts with my cohort, talking, joking, and going over a lot of our pasts. Many of the others have never done something like a hangout, a video chat over Youtube where we can all see each other, share our screens (and photos), make funny sound effects, and really just have a conversation with each other that feels completely natural. We have members already planning on meeting up on trips, or photo walks (we’re from all over the world, Las Vegas to Canada, to Australia) I’ve heard about some personal issues and struggles, and success stories. I’ve had a really rotten day turned around by my new friends here, made to laugh, and almost brought to tears..(almost, I’m a man dammit. Men don’t cry! lol j/j). This is something I never would have expected from any mentorship or online training. And here is a list of these amazing people who have been making such an impact on me


Ron Clifford - The ScapeFinder(My Sensei)

Apprentice Master

Robin Griggs Wood

The Cohort

Isabel Kelly - The One Who Captures the Soul

Stephanie Sullivan - The TruthSeeker

Marjorie McDonald  - The Engager

Sheryl Kingstone - The Traveller

Mark Helm - The Trail Blazer

Larry Clay - The Balanced One

Vivienne Withnall - The Composer

Jennifer Walton - The Compassionate

Darcee McCutcheon - The Filter Forger

Tiff Gilleland - The Embracer of Wonder

Marc Jansen - The Rememberer

J-D Bamford - The Colour Tamer

Gozde Yamaner -The Conqueror of Winter

Heather Kelman - The Inspired One

Tammy Cook - The Overcome

Denise Lawry - The Composed One

Björn Kleemann - The Conquerer

Les Rigby - The Waterwalker

I would like to say thank you to each of you for all the wonderful time we've spent together and for your honesty, support, and all I have learned here. 

And please check out their Google+ profiles. They are amazing artists, each of them, and even more wonderful people. 

I will also be following up with some of the tales from our cohort, give you insight into our group. I mean saying we've had impact is one thing, but I'm sure you want to see how!

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