If you have read a number of my older blog posts, you know that I have a love affair with Oregon (for example: Portland, Will You Marry Me?). But I have just spent over a week in Portland and Astoria, and since I left my husband at the helm of the house to take care of three kids, he strongly suggested that coming home and mentioning how much I love it there would be a serious misstep of goodwill and appreciation. So I won’t do that. . .   . . .

. . .

The reason for my trip to the totally average Pacific Northwest? David Bram (Fraction Magazine) and I hosted the Roundtable Retreat where six invited photographers came to participate in a four-day, five-night retreat on the Oregon coast.

The goal was for each photographer to strengthen and package a portfolio of work and develop a plan to strategically launch a project. We all stayed together in a quirky house, Real World-style – all the cameras, confessionals and late night debauchery but sadly no hot tub.

Photographers were invited to participate based on their work, experience and willingness to share and explore as a group. The intimate nature of the retreat was designed to foster community and create dialog around the work, as each participant brings different perspectives and ideas. And it rocked. Seriously rocked.

The group came together both personally and creatively in the most amazing way.  They became the Astoria Six, replete with a logo and nicknames.  David and I led discussions, critiques and instruction (on topics like social media, writing an artist statement, how to find your audience, what makes a good website and the artist-gallery relationship).  We even managed to scout out various Goonies filming locations and take a spin on a carousel.  You know, serious stuff.

I feel like I sound like an artist statement myself if I talk about the in-between moments being the most salient ones, but after hashing out nearly ten statements in half as many days, I guess that’s understandable. And nevertheless, that is the truth. The times spent informally discussing art and life and fears and successes were some of the most productive and gratifying moments of the week.

Although I was one of the “leaders”, I came away from this experience feeling inspired and recharged in a way I did not expect. So to the Astoria Six – I am grateful for your light and your humor, your talent and your energy. Thank you for giving as much as you got and for being unforgettable.

The Astoria Six:

Sexy Camera (Tatiana Wills), Cookie (Kurt Simonson), Bugle Bill (Bill Vaccaro), 5am Randi (Randi Lynn Beach), Dawnology (Dawn Roe), Fancy Bram (David Bram) and Vaguery (Sean Dana)

Are you a photographer interested in getting a project ready to launch? Check outFlash Powder Projects here.