Well, I’m not even sure where to start. What a glorious, glorious weekend. It began with the road trip of all road trips. Three girls empowered by a rented SUV, high tailing it across New Mexico, and into the uncharted, tiny mountain roads of Colorado. It was the real deal. Feet on the dashboard, windows rolled down, singing bluegrass in three part harmony at the top of our lungs, laughing until tears roll down our cheeks, roadside photo ops, breathtaking scenery, cheese-its and chocolate, and group hugs. What more can you ask for? Ten or so hours of road tripping, and we arrived at the gate of the Motherwell Ranch near Hayden, Colorado…our paradise for the next three days. A half hour drive up an aspen-lined, windy mountain path delivered us to a grand, proud, exquisite mountain lodge overlooking a glassy lake surrounded by thousands of towering pines. Nearby, along little hiking trails, are the luxury tents and guest cabins. We were immediately greeted by the amazing staff of the ranch, who have become family to us. We met Brian the director, Clay the hunting manager, (both resident cowboys turned location scouts and photographic assistants), and Jackson, the (amazing) chef. Like magic, the car was unloaded and we were jet setting around the property on a four-wheeler to choose locations for our sessions, gasping at the absolute beauty that surrounded us. Like clockwork, workshop attendees began to arrive at the ranch and were made to feel at home at the lodge as we all met over wine and Jackson’s wonderful homemade stew. By midnight we were all snug, tucked in to our cabins and tents, anxiously awaiting what the next day would bring.
6 am and I truly couldn’t believe the aroma coming from the kitchen. It’s been a long time since I got out of bed for breakfast, but this one did the trick. Incredible spread of meats, breads, eggs, fruits, yogurts, you name it. I believe Jackson received four marriage proposals before lunch. Our workshop began with a morning meeting in the lodge, sharing ideas, hundreds of images, motivations, and inspirations. After an amazing lunch, we piled onto four wheelers and headed out to one of my favorite sessions, the studio in the woods. We photographed exquisite figure studies under a white canopy, surrounded by gorgeous grasses and mountain landscape. Our four models lodged with us for the weekend and were just incredible. Beautiful, unique, and an absolute joy to work with. After our afternoon break, we all took nature walks, gathering flora for head adornments to be worn in our evening session. Everyone brought back pieces they had discovered during their walk, and I created wreaths for the models to wear from everyone’s contribution. On the porch, we made ten minute couture gowns from fabric, pins, ribbon, and binder clamps. We then headed into the woods for a breathtaking couture session with Harry, a simply amazing horse who must add high fashion modeling to his long list of accomplishments. We photographed until nearly dusk, then headed back to the lodge for dinner. Dinner, the best meal I’ve had in a good year, a meal that rivals any I’ve had in New York City, I mean, even Boston. It was that good. Everyone gathered around the bar and pool table upstairs after dinner, and we had some great laughs. A beautiful day, and we were all ready for another one.
6 am. I smell grits, and I can tell they have bacon and cheese in them. I’m up. Jackson has now received at a minimum 10 marriage proposals.
It’s a full day. We began with making dye transfers and in the morning, then off to a beautiful session at the bottom of the mountain in an old barn. We costumed the models in slip clay, cloth, and volcanic ash and bathed them in natural light. It was a spiritual experience, it was so beautiful. A lunch to die for, and then the water sessions. We built our tank below the balcony of the lodge under a lovely cloudy sky and made wonderful images of models floating in shallow water. A gorgeous afternoon rain shower came just in time for our break, cooled everything down, and the land just came alive. We boarded four wheelers and headed out for our last session, a sculptural session with magnificent skulls and antlers gathered from the Motherwell property. It was just beautiful, and such fun. Photographing out there just made you want to twirl.
Another un-believeable dinner in the cozy lodge, and then together again upstairs for drinks. It was just joy. What an amazing couple of days. Our third day is digital artmaking, photoshop technique, and image finishing. At 12 pm, the shuttle was boarded, and everyone was headed down the mountain. It was so quiet, and I instantly missed everyone.
The beauty of these workshops is the people, and discovering kindred spirits I would otherwise never know. This one enchanted somehow. I still miss everyone. This was like summer camp as a kid, it was magical. Unforgettable. These folks are family now. I’m just blessed to know them all.
The biggest, truest, most heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in this workshop. Thank you to Brian and Clay for the incredible amount of labor you put into making this all come together. My beautiful friends Aziza and Cornelia glued this whole thing together, and I’m so grateful. Aziza assisted every session, and Cornelia was our fantastic hair and makeup artist.
Below are images I created during the workshop, and a group image of us all.
Thank you, everyone, for the joy. I really needed to twirl again.