“I am limitless” was a tattoo boldly emblazoned across the fore-arm of one the participants at my latest Women’s Retreat….that got me reflecting on my many women’s photo retreats I have attended with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops. These workshops have given me the privilege of meeting women from so many different walks of life, sharing some very unique life experiences over the course of the last 6 years.
What is unique about a photo retreat experience? I love the time I have for immersion in my passion away from the daily cares that allows me to connect deeply with the place and the medium – to hone in on an aspect of photography! On some workshops, it provides me the ability to commune with my creative muse and on others it is a throw-down with a technical aspect of photography or my gear. Either way, I connect more deeply, more passionately that I would just going out to shoot by myself. The opportunity to share extended time with like-minded people; share both time and space pursuing creative expression through photography is very empowering.
I prefer workshops to photo tours – especially with instructors that enjoy teaching photography and challenging my mind – creatively and technically! I enjoy the exercises that give me the structure and discipline to explore a topic differently – challenging me to look at the same thing from a different perspective. This helps me grow in way I could not have envisioned prior to engaging with the exercise – it helps me “sharpen my saw”! My regular fix for “saw sharpening” comes from Arizona Highways Photo Workshop. Take a look at ahpw.org to see their workshop offerings.
I enjoy the collaborative learning that comes for impromptu conversations, watching others interpret the same subject so differently. I find myself slowing down and focusing on things I might have missed on a routine day. I look forward to the group
critiques where I get to witness multiple interpretations of the same subject or location and hear the creative journey that each photographer took to arrive at their images.
I don’t look forward to early wake up calls but I know I will be rewarded. It makes it easier for me to get out and go when I know I have other that will join me – just as reluctantly. It’s great to share an amazing morning with friends and the talk about it over breakfast. Not having to figure out how to get to “location” and let someone else get me there makes it easy. It’s great to not to have to worry about my meals, lodging or travel and just pander to my photography! Turnkey trips are great – I love them even though I have to share my space both in and out of the vehicle! It’s always worked out good and I have definitely managed to make some great memories and some long lasting friendships!
What is unique about a Women’s Photo Retreat? When a bunch of women who love photography willing to commit time to creative expression come together – it’s magic! It’s like pixie dust gets sprinkled on an already awesome photo workshop — it becomes an amazing experience!
My personal take on couple of the usual questions about a women’s retreat ….
#1 Do women learn differently than men? The learning experience that I have seen over the past 6 years on the women’s retreat is different- as the group comes together the learning experience becomes a shared experience.
- We talk to each other almost as much as we reach out to our instructors.
- Instruction is reinforced by the peer sharing experience – we share our ideas, opportunities and locations.
- Most will generously share and help each other so each of us gets that “shot”.
The overall environment is about collaborative learning – there is structure and planned learning goals but the format flows with group interest and energy. It’s easy camaraderie and we end up sharing stories and life journeys far beyond the topic of photography. This helps us explore our creative sides in a safe zone where all ideas are worth exploring and no questions is a “stupid” question.
#2 Do women see differently? Hmm…technically yes …our eyes perceive colors differently and we emotionally connect with subject matter quite differently. Interesting reading on this matter: http://www.popphoto.com/how-to/2009/03/do-men-and-women-take-different-photos.
#3 Does a “women only “experience make for different photographs? What I do find with myself is that I SLOW DOWN on a women’s retreat and my images have more focus on the details alongside the grand vistas. I take fewer better images, I come home with images that I connect with. Perhaps I feel I can let my hair down and just do what I want rather than what is expected–not sure.
I invite you to experience the truly unique learning experience on a Women’s Retreat – come join the Arizona Highways 2017 Women’s retreat at White Mountains with Amy Horn.