by:GABRIELLA BAMBOA/Staff Writer
Three years ago, Wes Underwood started a workshop that has completely changed the way people view photography.
Fandango is a fun, interactive photography workshop filled with new people, new lessons, and thousands of new ways to improve your skills as a photographer.
“Fandango was an idea I had to give back to my students that had taken classes with me,” explains Underwood, a photographer in the Office of Marketing and Recruitment at South Plains College. “I wanted them to step out of their normal locations for doing photography.”
He added, “It’s about having one day that covers the full gamet of lighting situations.”
Fandango is used to bring future photographers together to practice and interact with people who might know a little more than them, to swap advice and get that extra push they need to excel. Even well-known photographers learn something new every time they “Fandango.”
This fall’s event was held Oct. 17 and included 56 participants who made stops at Lake MacKenzie, Quitaque, Texas, and even Pole Canyon Ranch with the group throughout an 18-hour period.
“I truly enjoy hanging out with everyone and helping them to achieve those “I never thought about doing that” moments,” said Joe Baker, a well-known Lubbock photographer. “When I first started out in photography, I found very few willing to help. So I vowed that if I ever get to a point where I can share my knowledge and help others enjoy this hobby, I would.”
The first Fandango workshop started with only 14 photographers and one model. Gradually, through the years, Fandango grew. The trip on Oct. 17 featured 38 photographers, 12 models and six supporters helping everyone learn and come up with new things. People traveled from near and far to be a part of this amazing experience. There were photographers and models not only from the Texas areas, including Lubbock, Plainview, and Fort Worth, but also from as far away as New Mexico and Oklahoma.
“As I keep teaching my Jumpstart class, I see it getting bigger and becoming the Premier photography event of the fall and spring,” said Underwood of Fandango.
To Underwood, photography is a lifestyle.
“My motivation is just to help others learn and help them to enjoy photography,” said Underwood, who has organized six Fandango events so far.
Fandango doesn’t only help participants learn new skills, but it is also about becoming a family and knowing that there are so many other people like you, the type of people to have a camera at every family event. Fandango also is about enjoying the art of others and having others compliment your perspective.
“Everyone has unique techniques that work,” said Deanna Racca, who was one of those participating at the workshop on Oct. 17. “It’s fun seeing all of that in action with so many different photographers.”
When asked what his favorite part of Fandango was, Underwood replied, “Watching people learn and push their limits. And trying new things without being judged if it’s right or wrong. Watching a great group of people at all different levels of photography skills come together and learn from each other and try new things.”
Fandango has grown so much just from word of mouth, advertising, and the quality of the images produced by the students. Underwood says that he plans to keep the program going and keep helping upcoming photographers to escape that comfort zone and spread their wings.