I have been working on this post since the day after I unpacked from my Oasis trip, 3 weeks ago. This means this is insanely long. I apologize. Life has been busy and nothing even remotely as fun as my photo retreat in Palm Springs. For 4 and a half days I lounged, I rode a gondola to the top of a mountain, I trotted out my old cameras, I drank date shakes and I laughed so hard I cried. You would be surprised how little you end up shooting on photography retreats, but this time somehow I did. Maybe it was the arsenal of cameras I brought.
image // holly clark
Oasis is a retreat for women who loves photography, regardless of gear or experience. Last year it was held on the beaches of Asilomar, it was a rustic, cozy as well as heart warming experience. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the camp experience. I think I came home and couldn’t even look at my photos for a week. I’m laughing to myself now knowing that this trip I was editing photos on site. Partly because I needed to use some for a photo series and I knew I could not tie myself up with a ton of editing work as soon as came home. Trust me on this one its hard enough getting a hall pass for 4 days. This year it was in Palm Springs which is only a little over an hour from where I live, practically in my own back yard. You couldn’t have ordered up a more perfect week of weather, blue skies warm breezes and almost 5 days of hanging out at the swanky ACE Hotel on Palm Canyon Drive.
view from my room // iPhone panorama // ACE Palm Springs // click for full screen
When is the last time someone gave you permission to take the next four days off. Imagine those sun soaked days spent at the swanky ACE Hotel, a converted Howard Johnson’s motel, nestled up against the San Jacinto Mountains. Surrounded by lanky palm trees and homes designed by mid-century modern pioneers including Neutra and Wexler, Palm Springs is a photographers dream. Add a hundred or so kinfolk with cameras, flip flops with dreams of a warm getaway and you have Shutter Sisters Oasis.
Welcome reception awaits just behind the patio door. Myriam and Kristina are the first smiles I recognize in a sea of new faces.
DIY nametags we wore all week.
stuffed coyotes // photobooths // orange doors
Printed reminders of what we had hoped to find when we registered for Oasis.
King’s Highway once a Denny’s now a swanky diner that attracts the locals. We had a few savory meals and my favorite part fresh pot pressed Stumptown coffee (Portland, Or) and Sticky Date Pudding. Don’t forget to try a Date Shake at the counter. You can’t come to Cochella Valley and NOT have a date shake.
This is the lovely Meghan Davidson. At breakfast one morning she just took it upon herself to hop up on the booth and snap some Polaroids. That IS what she is known for, instant film but more importantly she is deeply committed to the creative process. I just smiled and watched, she is much braver than I. I wish I had the nerve to do what I need to in order to get that image out of my head on onto paper. Spend just 15 minutes with Meghan and you’ll find yourself laughing louder and harder than you ever have. I love her combination of quick wit, playfulness and unapologetic honesty. Oh and in the final minutes of camp we made a deeper connection as we broke out in a spontaneous chorus of I Would Die 4 U. Anotherclosetprincelover. Who knew. I guess I should have known with all the purple she wears.
Mae is a sight for sore eyes. Mae was my roommate at ALT last January. Bunking with me takes a lot of patience, lots. I spread, I dawdle and basically check out in very way possible when not on the clock. What I lack in housekeeping skills I make up with snacks, me mini bar es su mini bar. Mae and I did enjoy those Have’A Chips.
Mae specializes in interior photography on her blog Here in this House and I tell you if there is one thing that I would absolutely love to shoot more of its interiors. I follow a few steps behind Mae with good reason I’m trying to glean a few wise angle tips from watching her assess a room. Check out my favorite photo she took from the Parker Hotel. Our morning were always coffee fueled in search of that first morning light. Mae on EST was much more enthusiastic about those post workout predawn shoots. Yawn. I just wanted to sleep. A lot.
Oasis was an open invitation to come an explore whatever you and your camera were up for. I’m sure Xanthe being on London time had something to do with the midnight swimming going on. I love her work, check out her first two days in sunny So Cal.
Holly (aka Soupatraveler) preparing to take her daily #fromwhereistand shot with mamaowl and Jenny Coleman I have known Holly for a few years now, I think when I began this whole new life with my camera and a blog we met during a Big Picture Class, now she’s about to be an instructor there. Holly was one of the first people I followed on Flickr, I loved her dedication and her working knowledge of cameras is phenomenal I distinctly remember when I first met her at camp last year, when I complained about my lack luster photos coming out of my new camera she grabbed it and started thumbing through the settings, evidently someone never read the manual. She takes care of things and people like that. Ask question later. I love that about her. She is down to earth and a whiz at photographing people, especially at night. Again I needed a crash course in TTL with my flash and there she was directing me to switch that, take that down a notch, bump this up and now try. I wish I could pack her up in keep her in my camera bag.
5 of the 9 Muses // Holly, Meghan, Modchik, Christy & Debra.
This was the first time five out of the nine mortal muses have been together. I was especially excited to finally meet Christy, aka Urbanmuser. Christy was the one who reached out and asked me to join the MM group back in the summer of 2011 and the ONLY one I knew who was coming that I had not met. Christy lives in downtown Mahanattan and is known for her stunning iPhone self portraits funny she was exactly as I imagined her to be refined, delicate features, the frame of a ballerina with the heart of a true artist. There was definitely a buzz going on during OASIS about the photos she was posting on Instagram. I would be very surprised if you didn’t see her as a finalist in this years MPAs (mobile photography awards). Unfortunately Superstorm Sandy prevented Christy from making it back home, she was stuck in So Cal (not a bad place to be stranded) for a few weeks before finally getting a flight back to NYC.
The lovely and uber photogenic and equally talented Corinna aka birdwannawhistle. I met Corinna last year at camp where I fell for this girl over pizza and a beer. After seeing her portrait work from camp last year I thought to myself, now this woman KNOWS how to shoot people and places. We had long talks about what has and has not happened since our last meet up and compared notes on creative blocks. She talked about this transition very honestly over on the Shutter Sisters site a few weeks ago. It wasn’t my intention but I think I captured what Corinna might self caption pondering change.
Me shooting Corinna and then her look back at us (bottom rt // birdwannawhistle)
One night during our wander along, I found a nice corner patio decorates with string lights and candles, Billie Holiday was playing on the record player. I pulled up a chair next to Stephanie Roberts, resident iphoneographer and author and somehow got on the subject of walking through the valley and how sometimes its hard to find your way back professionally when so much is going on personally. If I took away anything from that week it was those few minutes of shared personal space one photographer to another, one mother to another.
Tuesday we all boarded buses and went on a tram ride to the top of San Jacinto over ten thousand feet up. It was so peaceful. I won’t lie the ride up was a bit unsettling, first of all the gondola rotates 360 degrees as you travel up the mountain. And we you pass one of the massive pylons it swings! If you can manage to put all of that out of your mind, the 360 degree views are breathtaking.
sun flare // clean air // chickadees // whispering pines // cold ears
iPhone panorama // view from the top // click for full screen
iphone 4S // instagram // 10,000 feet up
This is Mae and I on a mountain. We took a little side trip to the peak of San Jacinto (10,834 ft up).
5 o’clock shadow.
On the last day I finally got to spend some time with the lovely Andrea Jenkins aka girlhula or HulaSeventy. I think she single-handedly caused my infatuation with all things vintage and Polaroid. I remember reading about her collection on UPPERCASE magazine, after that it was all over I put Goodwill on alert. Andrea’s work has an ethereal, timeless beauty about it. I can see the 70’s was very influential on her and I think this mutual sense of nostalgia for all things old school makes me love her even more. I also came out and publically declared a crush on her hubby Ward Jenkins. Recently made worse by the discovery of our mutual love for mid century modern, Sacred Lotus and Prince.
Andrea held workshops on you guessed it, Polaroids! Loaded with tons of film courtesy of Impossible Project and an arsenal of cameras you were free to pick up what ever you wanted and walk and shoot. Can’t think of a better way to try before you buy.
Fellow Pola lover Cyndy B took some of my favorite shots of Andrea (above).
private pools // ACE // forever Marilyn // corinna // click 4 full screen
Another Polaroid genius and fellow muse Debra aka Manifiesty asked if would pose for her series of Polaroid Portraits. Fiercely independent with a talent for extracting beauty out of just about anything. I have serious Pola-envy it just seemed like everything coming out of her camera was spot on that week. You have to check out her trip the Neon Boneyard Museum in Las Vegas. Still on my bucket list.
Another batch of fantastic Polaroids (and instagrams) came from Leslie Adams, Leslie and I get along very well and it just feels right. I am a big fan of her Instagram work as well. We met last year at camp and I remember my fascination with her pack camera which lead to this photo. She helped me load my old SX70 as I completely fumbled with my first shots. I’m glad I ran into her while we were at the Saguaro we had fun shooting the same thing so we could compare Polaroids, you can’t imagine how different the same camera can operate. She also convinced me I was missing the boat not loading up 600 film in my SX70, the entire trip was worth it after learning how I could force my camera into this kind of film speed submission. Thanks Les.
image / leslie royer adams
And there you have it 2000 words and more photos then you probably needed but I finally got it all out. I keep with me the stories, the tears and the satisfaction knowing I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Right here, right now.
View the entire trip here –>> Oasis 2012.
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