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I am a North Carolina conceptual portrait photographer. Look here for updates on my photography adventures. Visit www.HeatherEvansSmith.com for details on commissioned portrait shoots and fine art sales.

March 3, 2013: New Mexico

I feel quite honored to have been invited to David Bram (Fraction Magazine) and Jennifer Schwartz's (Jennifer Schwartz Gallery) Roundtable Retreat in New Mexico a few weeks ago. I must admit, in the weeks leading up to the retreat I was extremely nervous. I felt good about my work, but knew as a whole it was all over the place and that my series was not near completion. I didn't feel fully comfortable explaining my work to others but that, after all, was the purpose of the retreat. After fretting for a bit I remembered a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing every day that scares you". I bought my plane ticket, packed up my prints and was on my way.

Corona New Mexico is a beautiful place and in the middle of nowhere! I believe the entire town consists of a gas station, a grill and cattle. The nearest grocery store was over an hour away. Cell phone service was non-existent (though I can't say this was necessarily a bad thing). My fellow retreat mates (Lisa Blair, Elizabeth Libert, and Marina Font) and I spent the majority of the retreat working at the ranch from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. We reviewed our work, wrote artists statements, developed 12 month plans, discussed social media, made dinner, checked out dance moves, laughed and ate way too many Oreos. We joked that it was the Real World without the hot tub. 

David was kind enough to take us to the "dump" so we could collect as many bones and antlers as we could fit in our suitcases. Our group name naturally became, "The Bone Collectors". 

Even though this was not a shooting retreat, I brought a couple of prop dresses in hopes of squeezing in a shoot or two. On Saturday at sunset, the ladies and I packed up the bones and headed to a different section of the ranch. I felt like I was on a fancy set with my many assistants. Often the majority of my shoots are me and a camera. The image that resulted from our excursion is below, The Collector. 

The Collector
© 2013 Heather Evans Smith Photography

Of course I couldn't resist taking a picture of this Charlie's Angelesque outtake. 
Marina Font, Jennifer Schwartz and Lisa Blair (aka The Bone Collectors)
Behind the scenes of me getting ready to shoot "The Collector". Photo by Jennifer Schwartz

Later on Saturday evening we had two special guests, Katherine Ware (curator of photography at the New Mexico Museum of Art) and photographer Daniel Coburn. Daniel had just received his MFA and brought work from his recent show Domestic Reliquary. We each had a chance to sit down with Kate and Daniel and show them our work, receiving feedback and advice. They were both open in their advice and experience of the photographer/museum relationship.

On Sunday we took a break from work and traveled to White Sands National Monument. We arrived there an hour before the sun started to set and immediately turned into six kids in wonderland. The landscape was vast, white, windy and beautiful. Of course I brought with me my two trusty prop dresses and persuaded my fellow bone collectors to model for me. This seemed all well and good until the sun started to set. The cold set in and my dear model Jennifer almost froze her toes off. Eventually she defrosted and I have this picture as a result.

© 2013 Heather Evans Smith Photography
After another day of work, I left the retreat with a 12 month to do list. I am working slowly on making the steps to take my work even further, with clarity and focus. David and Jennifer have already checked in on us, seeing what progress we have made in the past week. 

This retreat was invaluable. Not only do I have the knowledge to take my work to the next level but I have developed working relationships and friendships for years to come. Oh, and antlers too!

Thank you David and Jennifer!

iphone pics from the Corono, NM retreat.
Middle picture by Jennifer Schwartz. Middle right picture by David Bram.

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