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HomenewsShoot Like a Woman: Local photography group celebrates 10 years with exhibit

Shoot Like a Woman: Local photography group celebrates 10 years with exhibit

Wanting to explore the Big Horn Basin’s many backcountry wonders but not wanting to do so alone, noted conservation photographer Kathy Lichtendahl called a friend, hoping to find a hiking partner. She called on Christine Garceau, Northwest College Photographic Communications professor, who has a doctorate in tech communications and a love for documenting the area’s awesome landscapes and wildlife.

Over coffee, Lichtendahl pitched the idea of forming a group of like-minded female photographers. Garceau immediately agreed and in January of 2014 they founded Shoot Like a Woman. This month they celebrate the 10th anniversary of the small, but mighty collaboration.

“No matter how physically or mentally strong you are, for a woman to go out in the wild by herself and try and photograph is very challenging,” Lichtendahl said. “Even more so for women who are moving into the area and had never faced the reality of going out in bear country, lion country and wolf country.”

That’s not to say the women in the group aren’t more than capable of serious adventure in the Big Horn Basin’s harsh landscape. Lichtendahl, a NWC trained photographer and former instructor, is an accomplished outdoors enthusiast with a long list of challenging hikes under her belt and a former member of Park County Search and Rescue. She has recently turned her attention to photographing insects in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and was named the 2023 Sageland Collaborative volunteer of the year for The Rosy-finch Project, which champions a bird species rarely seen except during the coldest times of the year when they migrate out of their high elevation habitat.

Garceau started her career in the rough and tumble field of photojournalism in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at a time few women were actively working in the field.

She earned her doctoral degree, in part, with her dissertation documenting how women were pushed to make images of their children and home life while men were encouraged to seek photography as a profession. The goal of both her dissertation and a benefit of being a member of the Shoot Like a Woman group is to write women photographers into the history of the art form.

“If you want to be a part of history, you have to sit at the table,” she said.

The two came up with a list of female photographers who might be interested in joining and went on their first monthly hike in January of 2014. Ten years later the group is still going strong and a show of current members’ top photographic images opened Thursday evening at Plaza Diane in Powell.

There are eight active members, four of whom were part of the inaugural outing a decade ago. All are represented in the exhibit, including Jennifer Litterer-Trevino, Michelle Milner, Kathy Morris, Heather Cole, Dawn Garrison, Randi Slaughter, Lichtendahl and Garceau. All chose images to highlight the beauty of the Basin and its charismatic creatures. The exhibit will stay in the Plaza Diane Gallery until Feb. 10.

With an initial group of six women, they decided it was important to limit their footprint in delicate habitats, so they self-imposed a limit of 10 members for the monthly hikes.

“We were cognizant of the fact that we were imposing on that landscape,” Lichtendahl said.

They also knew from experience a large group would make it difficult to photograph wildlife. However, while the 10 member limit for the physical group remains intact, there are more than 120 members on the group’s online forum, with the goal of providing female nature photographers the opportunity to learn and grow together in their art.

Many of the members attended, despite the brutal weather.

“This was so great, the photos were exceptional. All very unique and interesting! A lot of personality in every one,” said Cody resident and online member Doreen Shellady.

The images are a small sampling of the hundreds of photographs each of the women has captured on excursions in what is essentially Powell’s “backyard.”

“They represent a love of subject and technique as well as a desire to share that love with a greater audience,” Lichtendahl said in announcing the show.

Slaughter is inspired by the social aspect of the club and the opportunities to get feedback on her art. However, she has no issues with heading to the backcountry for extended solo hiking and camping trips. She often takes off for the mountains alone, spending sometimes two weeks at a time primitive camping to find landscapes and wildlife few see without getting off the beaten path. Even with her mountaineering credentials, she appreciates the social aspect of the group of like-minded women, as well as the feeling of security in numbers.

“I’m probably more willing to do it [go on long hikes] with a group than I am on my own. It helps bolster your courage,” said Slaughter.

It would have been easy for the group to concentrate on Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding ecosystem. However, the group has explored many of the hidden gems of the region few have witnessed in person.

“We’ve opened people’s eyes to the beauty that is right here. This entire area sometimes gets overshadowed by Yellowstone National Park, which is such a treasure and such a wonderful thing to have in our backyard. But because of that people don’t always realize all of these other amazing, incredible places we have,” Lichtendahl said, adding “I do think we have helped highlight those, both online and with our physical photographs that we should have showed in a variety of exhibits.”

There are future plans to look into publishing a book to highlight both the photos of the group over the past decade and to increase the reach of the club to other women and children.

The gallery is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Or check out Shoot Like a Woman on Facebook.

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