A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of joining a number of friends for a photographic retreat in the Fishlake National Forrest for three days and two nights of photography. James Duncan Davidson, Ann Torrence, Rich Legg, Jeremy Hall, Trent Nelson, David Daniels, Elizabeth Foote, Scott Smith, Harley and Diane Pebley, Kim Barton, Ed Paz, Nathan Marx, Sawyer Pangborn, Suzanne Plant, Nicole Young, Mavoureen Strozewski and myself all convened to discuss, share and get feedback on our latest work. If a little extra photography got done on this weekend, all the better.
Ann and I struggled with the meal concepts some, vacillating between more elaborate ideas and admonishments towards simplicity. In the end, a nice hybrid was struck, though we’ll go for less food purchased on the next go-around. That said, any outing in my mind has to include some aspect of culinary celebration and this one was no exception. Ann and I had chosen a top loin that I proceeded to carve up into steaks on the first night out. Duncan helped mightily to prepare the meal and help document the gastronomic festivities.
I also have to say that our peeps really stepped up with the food preparation. Again, Duncan helped with food prep and documentation of the first meal, Kim helped me clean up the kitchen after that nights prep which was very much appreciated. Ann and I worked on breakfast the next morning (eggs Benedict) with poached eggs that were a little rough given the preparation conditions, but the hollandaise was *perfect*. Nate and Ed prepared a delectable dutch oven meal the second night and Elizabeth prepared a fantastic repast for breakfast on the second morning, dealing not only with left overs, but also making up some rather excellent pancakes eggs and sausages. Last, but certainly not least, our campground host Frank was wonderful. Frank made sure there were kitchen facilities ready for us complete with outdoor grills and a wonderful gas range and oven. Frank also joined us for a couple of the meals and told us about the history of the site, how it came to be and how it was almost lost. Thank you Frank and we hope to see you next year.
The idea for the collective would be that everyone would bring some work to share with the rest of the group, ideally a photographic project. So, after excursions in the day to make photographs, we gathered in the evenings around the fireplace to talk about projects that we were engaged in. I was both humbled and inspired by some of the projects that my friends were working on. Trent shared some amazing work on polygamy that he has been covering for a number of years now. I was stunned by the absolute journalistic integrity and impartiality, not to mention the power and beauty that his photographs captured. Duncan shared some of his work from the documentation of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that was some of the most amazing access and imagery that came out of *any* media coverage of the event. And the person that really set the bar for the weekend retreat in my mind was my friend Jeremy. I am very much looking forward to the results of his project that I’ll not divulge here, but I’ll just say that everyone present was absolutely impressed and touched by the proposal and his work.
We got out at least once for a little photowalk up to a series of lakes where many photographs were made of carved initials into aspen trees, pond scum, insects, flowers and stars. None of the images I made that weekend were my best work, but they were images that would not have happened otherwise.
All in all, I’d say the weekend was a success and I hope to repeat it in the years to come. A group shot of the weekend minus a couple of members was captured by Sawyer and can be seen here.
….. On the way back home, Duncan, Trent and I decided to stop off at Mom’s Cafe in Salina, Utah. Mom’s is an institution and a resource for darned good food in central Utah. It was here that we feasted and then hatched our next plot, a little hybrid photographic/ballistic shooting which was reasonably fun enough to think about a reprise.