Donna attended the inaugural 2017 Saltwater Retreat for women photographers on Hatteras Island, North Carolina.  Today she is sharing her thoughts and favorite photographs from the experience. The Saltwater Retreat Womens Photography Retreat Jennifer Carr Photography (2)

The Saltwater Retreat Womens Photography Retreat Jennifer Carr Photography (2)The Saltwater Retreat Womens Photography Retreat Jennifer Carr Photography (2)The Saltwater Retreat Womens Photography Retreat Jennifer Carr Photography (2)

I spent five days in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in a beautiful beach house on the oceanfront with seven caring and creative women. It's a wonderful thing how time away from home can give you a fresh perspective. The retreat gave me a renewed sense of what photography means to me, and how making pictures is interwoven into my life.

Organized and led by Virginia Beach photographer, Jennifer Carr – teacher, facilitator, mentor, and down-to-earth friend, the retreat afforded opportunities to:

  • photograph different subjects: lighthouses, fishing piers, seascapes, sunrise and sunset, sand dunes and sea grasses, nature and wildlife
  • try different techniques and gear: long exposures, panning, creative lenses, neutral density filters, photos with starbursts
  • discuss topics such as learning to observe, the value of patience and waiting, shooting from the heart, printing, digital darkroom, and social media

and, most meaningful for me,

  • connect with women who "get" it – creative souls who share this passion for expressing what they feel through picture-making – to be here in this world with others.

We stayed up late into the night talking about photography and life, and life and photography, and back again.  No need to impress, no comparisons, no preaching or lectures – only the sweet and simple assurance that we are unique and each capable of some kind of greatness.

The retreat pushed me far out of my comfort zone. Mostly a homebody, travel is intimidating for me, but I was welcomed by Jennifer and my new friends and made to feel right at home. My pictures are intimate in style. Faced with the large expanse of the ocean, miles of beach and sand dunes, I sometimes felt lost. My color palette is muted and soft so the bright hues of sunset and sunrise set me on edge. I took my first sunrise and sunset photographs during the retreat. I worried that the pictures I might take wouldn’t do justice to the magnificent subject, and letting go of that worry was hard, but Jennifer was right there by my side to answer questions and reassure me. I looked through the viewfinder at the kaleidoscope of colors, took a deep breath, pressed the shutter, and locked the view in my memory.

My retreat experience gave me the opportunity to learn and practice – time to immerse myself in the deep work I love with my whole heart. And the learning was made all the better by delicious home-cooked meals, beautiful and comfortable accommodations, and plenty of downtime for shopping, reading and relaxing, too.

I’m grateful I made the time, spent the money, and took the risk because it was so worth it! Thank you, Jennifer!

Follow Donna online at Coming to my Senses.