Back in 1969, years before I was born, my grandparents bought property in Jackson Hole, just south of Grand Teton National Park. By 1971, their house was built and a history of family memories was born. My first visit was as a very young girl and the story told to me by my grandparents is that when I was 4 years old, I put up my arms and declared the Tetons "My Mountains". Though this is hardly true in reality, that feeling has grown and stayed with me for nearly 40 years. I have been fortunate to live in great homes and communities and travel to many wonderful places in my 41 years, but nowhere has my heart and soul felt so complete as in the Tetons.
As I fly into the valley, the jagged peaks come into view and the feeling of coming home washes over me. I get a lump in my throat, a sense of peace, and a feeling like my heart is going to jump out of my chest all at the very same time. The piece of me that has been missing has returned and I feel complete once again.
Driving the park road, putting one foot in front of the other on the trails I know by memory, watching the clouds float over the mountains, my heart soars and the feeling of being in 'my place' is so intense and familiar. I have seen the area change so much over the years and the tourist traffic increase dramatically. But the magic of the Tetons remains the same year after year and my need to be beneath their grandeur remains as strong as ever.
Hiking and photography have always been 2 of my favorite activities in GTNP. My husband and I hiked and camped all the backcountry trails in the early 2000s, finishing with a pizza at Dornan's and an afternoon of reading in the hammock with a beer. Eventually, the hikes became shorter with our kids but photography became a more serious endeavor.
It seems only fitting that the Tetons have such a strong presence in my landscape photography since my passion for the landscape genre began in Jackson Hole. I dream of spending more time here exploring both iconic locations and the roads less traveled, capturing these peaks in all seasons and conditions. It is easy to simply spend hours watching Mother Nature unfold over the valley, as the light and shadows dance and the Grand plays hide n seek amongst the clouds.
My passion for landscape photography led me into teaching the genre 3 years ago when my first online workshop began in September 2014 with Click Photo School. The workshop has now run 6 times with a fall and spring run each year. Through this workshop, I have met so many photographers and have had the privilege of seeing the world through their lenses and watching their landscape photography grow. The friendships formed have been a highlight for me and it has been especially rewarding to meet many of these alumni at the annual Click Away conferences where I have also led several landscape classes.
As much as I love the online teaching, I long to also work and connect with my students in a more hands on way. Teaching at Click Away reinforced this for me and also demonstrated the inspiration, creativity and connection that comes from in person gatherings. I found myself longing for more landscape and nature focus and the opportunity to connect with others who share my passion. I long for the opportunity to teach and inspire as we immerse ourselves in nature and chase the light. I want to bring a group of creative women together for connection and inspiration to learn from each other and support each other in our art. I want to create an opportunity to give ourselves the gift of several days focused on nothing but nurturing our need to learn, create and connect with other women who share this need.
For a couple years, the dream of leading a workshop in the Tetons was simmering in my brain. Finally I knew I needed to stop daydreaming and make this dream a reality. I wanted to bring my vision of this retreat experience together with my love and knowledge of the Teton area.
I am excited to say that I have a fantastic group of 7 ladies signed up for this unique experience and I look forward to kicking off the first annual Magic in the Tetons retreat September 27 for 4 days and 4 nights of nature, photography and friendship.
This past fall my grandparents home was sold and the loss is heartbreaking. But this retreat is a bright spot for me. Taking my past history there and my love for capturing its beauty to create this future adventure.
Past, present and future coming together to build friendships, inspire creativity and capture the magic of the Tetons!