I am at the Palm Springs Photo Festival for a week of portfolio reviews, seminars and conversations with other photographers. My participation was made possible by a professional development grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. I came here to show my photographs of US Route 89 to magazine editors who might be interested in our story. So far, the input from reviewers has been very positive and their advice has been valuable in moving to the next level.

What I didn’t expect and has been a pleasant surprise has been the interaction with other photographers, two in particular.

Hillside south of Bluff, Utah-© Stephen E. Strom

Hillside south of Bluff, Utah-© Stephen E. Strom

I first saw Stephen Strom’s work in two shows at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson and was immediately struck by the abstract beauty of his landscapes. His photographs are pastel renditions of the textures of the earth. If find them to be such beautiful objects that I don’t feel as if I need to know where they were shot the way I do with most landscape photographs. So I was thrilled to met Steve and his wife, Karen, shortly after I arrived in Palm Springs and to be able to sit down and look at many of his exquisite prints. Take and look at the portfolios on the Stephen E. Strom website.

Karen Strom is also a photographer and her collaged works incorporating Steve’s photos are fascinating. Visit Karen Strom’s website for a different take on reality.

The second photographer that I met on Sunday evening is one the faculty of the Photo Fest. We struck up a conversation about following one’s passion when creating a body of work. That conversation has now stretched out over several meetings. The photographer is Arno Rafael Minkkinen. His work is about as different from mine as you can get. It is conceptual self-portraiture that is at once very mysterious and emotionally compelling. Take a look at Arno’s website to see what I mean.

Photographers and artists in general do their work in solitude, generating images from the heart. Putting them out into the world almost feels dangerous as if they might die of a terrible disease. Coming to Palm Springs has allowed me to show my portfolio in relative safety and to get gentle feedback. I am looking forward to more interaction with the many talented people here and expect to be back at work on the US Route 89 project with renewed vigor and insight.