I just spent five days in Portland at a portfolio review event called Photo Lucida. Every other year, more than 100 photographers and 60 photo-professionals (curators, gallerists, publishers, etc.) gather at the Benson Hotel to network and dialogue. Over the course of four days, each photographer has eighteen 20-minute, one-on-one reviews with various photo-professionals. This year, the reviews were held in the chandelier-lit room pictured here – the reviewer on one side of a white linen-covered table and the photographer on the other.

I gain so much from attending these events…

First, I get organized. I prepare my resume, handouts, and my prints and mixed media work for presentation.

Second, I get new words. This time I was sharing my current work in progress – Evocations and Sanctuaryand it was so helpful to get the keen insights of people who are skilled at looking and talking about photographs. Some of my new favorite words I collected are “herbarium” and “forensic.”

Third, I get good questions – ones to take home and mull over. For example, what is the role of beauty in my art?

Fourth, I get diverse feedback – some people love certain images while others love different ones, maybe even somebody else’s least favorite image. In the end, I leave with the affirmation that I simply need to make the work I feel most called to make.

Fifth, I get opportunities and possibilities. Many of the people I met will consider my work for future shows and publications. For example, Jim Casper offered to publish Evocations in an upcoming issue of Lens Culture.

Sixth, I get so inspired by the talent and commitment of my fellow photographers there. Some of the work that knocked my sox off is Heidi Kirkpatrick’s mixed media pieces and Jessica Hines’ in-camera collages.

Seventh – and this is the main reason I go – I get connected. Spending four days with almost 200 people who value the creation of new photography-based work makes me feel – even after the event is over – that I am part a larger community of accomplished image makers from around the country. Now, back here in the studio all by myself, I feel profoundly that I am not alone.