Colleen Miniuk has been heading up photographic “Womens’ Retreats” for about a decade now, first with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops (now Arizona HighwaysPhotoscapes) and more recently on her own as “Sheography.” Photoscapes also continues these trips.
Colleen’s version has quite a following. At least one of my fellow travelers has been doing these trips since the beginning. Many feel strongly that there’s a substantial difference when there are no men involved and particularly that women learn more and feel more comfortable.
I joined the group mostly because I wanted to explore a part of Oregon that is not familiar to me. I’ll admit to being curious about the all-female vibe, but wouldn’t have signed up just for that. For whatever reason, I’m not that kind of girl. I’ve never felt hesitant to speak up or pursue my creative vision based on the gender of my colleagues. Yes, I’ve been stunned by some low-level bullying on photo trips, but that came as much from women as men.
I had the great pleasure of some extra time with friends that I see far too little of. Three of us had an extra day before and after the trip and managed to squeeze in a visit to Powell’s Books and two Portland food truck meals. The highlight of Portland for me was the Japanese Garden. What a thrill to see this place that had been high on my list.
We also explored a bit at Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington. Honestly, I would have wanted to visit based on its name alone, but it (with two lighthouses!) came highly recommended by some locals. I was scouting around with just my phone in my pocket but jogged back to the car for my "real" camera when I saw the bright yellow mustard grass near one lighthouse.
|Tide pool detail, Cannon Beach|
On the coast it was cloudy and gray. Feel free to tell me that should not have been a surprise. The subdued light did create opportunities for dramatic black & white images, and the color in tide pools was that much more impressive against the desaturated surroundings.
|The Three Graces, Oregon|
I appreciated the chance for spontaneous side-trips. At one point part of the group returned to the hotel after dinner and the rest of us stopped north of Garibaldi to climb over the railroad tracks and photograph the three graces. They weren’t on the schedule, but we’d seen them earlier and decided to check the area out. The roosting birds, dead trees, and flat light created quite a moody scene.
The bottom line? I’m glad that my gender qualified me to do this trip and meet some lovely women.
More images are in the (brand new) Summer 2018 Gallery on the website.