If you drive Hwy 281 for the scenic route between Dallas and San Antonio, you’ll pass through the little town of Hico, Texas, and right by the entrance to the Koffee Kup Restaurant. Regulars here are waiting outside when the doors open at 6:00 a.m., but with a town of only 1,376 people, the restaurant relies on a steady stream of passersby throughout the day—people come from all over for the chicken fried steak, the burgers…and the pie.

They make 16 types of pie.

I spent two days at Koffee Kup last month, as part of an assignment for Foundation Workshops, which bills itself as, “the original and toughest photojournalism workshop for wedding photographers.”

You may notice the lack of wedding photos in my portfolio; I was referred to the workshop for its focus on story and photojournalism, and found the workshop to be much more fundamental. Honestly, even weeks later, I’m still processing all that I learned in just a few days. I imagine this will continue for quite some time, and different elements will ease their way into my photography. But I came home with two key lessons:

1. Better photos come from practice; compelling photos come from practice, patience, and intention.
I’m not a very patient person. I didn’t need a workshop to tell me that, but my team leader, Sergio, could see it in my photos. He and the team mentors pushed me far beyond my comfort zone, but in doing so, helped me to understand the importance of anticipating and…waiting. And of creating images that capture genuine emotion and draw their viewers into the scene. Those are the images I want to create.

2. Telling stories through photos isn’t just about seeing, it’s about feeling.
I said this to the group after a slideshow from my assignment was shown: “I came to Glen Rose to learn how to better see as a photographer, because I thought that was most important; instead, I was taught to feel.” If that sounds mushy, it is—but if a photographer (ahem, me) is guarded and distant from his subjects, that can be seen in his images. I’ll likely be exploring exactly what this means for my photography for quite some time.

Again, there was a lot more to glean from the teachings and experience, and I gained an entirely new perspective to apply to my photography. But I think that’s better shown than written.

Thanks to Sergio, Katrina, David and Dexter for your leadership. And to Philippe, Kristina, Andrea, Dennis and Laura for being such incredible teammates. And to Huy and the staff that pour so much of their time and talent into their peers. And to the staff and patrons at the Koffee Kup for being so welcoming and open. A couple of my favorite shots from the assignment are below.