What do you do when on a “vacation” dedicated explicitly to photography?
You may think, from the wealth of pictures I post to this blog, that all those outings are done with photography in mind. That is not the case.
Normally, these are excursions that my wife and I agree on. We frequently do these trips as guided tours, along with a group of other
sheep tourists being herded around on a tightly defined schedule of someone else’s design. While enjoyable, it’s not that conducive to picture taking. Photography is secondary, something I squeeze into opportune moments.
Last September, for a few days, that narrative changed. I enrolled in a photography workshop.
These days, with everyone and their brother sporting camera phones, it’s harder for photo pros to find ways to make a living. One of these ways is photography workshops: the pro picks some picturesque part of the country and sets up an excursion that’s part classroom and part go out and take pictures. In this case, a local pro featured the local region. I didn’t have to spring for travel and hotel expenses, the classroom was in town, and most of the spots were areas I was familiar with. It would be good to see it with fresh eyes.
Our first destination was Mount Hood. Specifically, Timberline Lodge, on the south side of the mountain, about 60 miles east of Portland.
The lodge was built in the mid 30s, as a “New Deal” WPA project intended to give jobs to those impacted by the Great Depression.
The exterior may look familiar – it was used for the Steven King film, “The Shining”.
The interior looks nothing like “The Shining”, it’s much more rustic. The emphasis is on stonework, ironwork, and heavy beams, with an artisan’s touch.
The entire lodge was built for $700,000 – about 13 million in today’s dollars. I doubt they could do it for 13 million today, even if they could find artisans qualified for the work.
Who goes to a mountain to stay inside? Not me.
Timberline has a ski area – it probably saved the lodge. After they built the lodge, the operators didn’t put much effort into maintenance. By the early 1950s the lodge was closed and in disrepair. Fortunately, skiing became more popular in the late 50s and 60s, and the lodge reopened. Now it has the longest ski season in the USA – it’s open year round.
Wandering around the grounds, I found a few others enjoying the site.
Did I take better pictures because I was in a workshop? Not necessarily. But I did have more of a sense of freedom. I was there with other photographers, most of whom hadn’t seen the place before. We had free rein to do our own thing, to shoot whatever, or just kick back and enjoy a beer and a view. There was enough time to not rush, and I didn’t have to worry about my wife or others getting bored while I puttered with this shot or that.
In short, it was creative fun.
We had more stops, more days of shooting, more comradery. But that’s grist for future stories…