Thursday, April 07, 2016

Lessons from a Made to Create Weekend



A few weekends ago, I packed up my camera, borrowed a sleeping bag and headed south toward Gig Harbor for a weekend photography retreat with Made to Create. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I left much later than planned so my drive was almost 2 hours instead of an hour. I put that time to good use by listening to the first half of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you haven't read this, I highly recommend it. And I HATED Eat, Pray, Love so when I say that you need to read this book, I'm serious.


Once at the camp, I squelched around in the mud, looking for the check-in location. I found everyone and was nicely shuttled with all my stuff (I seriously overpacked) to my cabin. I totally lucked out. I ended up in a cabin with two of the speakers and that was it. We had this huge cabin that fit like 14 people and there were three of us. The two other ladies are friends and had driven up together but in no way made me feel excluded. They were thought provoking, intelligent and inspirational. In fact, their two sessions completely made my weekend. If I had only attended their sessions, I would have found the weekend to be a smashing success.


Friday night was spent getting to know everyone and listening to Kelly Lemon as she shared her story about her life-changing accident and how she photographs amazing photos while working around her physical limitations. I had a mentorship session with her the next day and learned so much about posing clients. I have the worst time telling people how I want them to stand, act, etc for photos without getting too bossy. She helped me find my posing mojo with confidence. I ended up taking some wonderful photos of a lovely engaged couple in her session. Friday night ended up with a campfire and s'mores, made from delicious gluten-free graham crackers.

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Saturday morning started with a wonderful yoga session by Honey Flow Yoga. She left us with a booklet for juicy living, full of great tips! We then enjoyed breakfast before heading out to the breakout sessions. I went to Devon Michelle's session on family photography. I learned so much even though I'm not interested in family photography at all. Well, except I am. I am interested in photographing my family and I learned so many tips from Devon. I've been incorporating her patented monkey sound to get Maggie's attention during photo sessions.

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After lunch, we had 2 on 1 mentorship sessions. My first one was with Danny Owens. I had just finished shooting a baby food story and showed him my photos. He had very kind words to say and some good critique. We then set up a caramel shot and he gave me some great propping ideas. The black background is just two slate tiles from the hardware store that he brushed with water. I added the greens and the cool scoop and then we dusted the caramels with salt. My other mentorship session was with Kelly Lemon which I covered above.

We then move onto business intensive sessions covering taxes (eek!), social media and business coaching with Esther Swaty. I wanted to take Esther home and sit her down with some coffee, grab a notebook and just listen to her advice. She is seriously in the right career. I was inspired by every single one of her words.

After dinner, we had another business intensive session. I went to Lisa Hepfer's session on commercial photography. I love her enthusiasm for life. I loved her story about her first aviation shoot and how the pilot asked her if she liked photographing aviation. Since it was her first shoot, but he didn't need to know that, she just said, "I'm really excited!" I loved that! She didn't lie. She just didn't offer up the entire story because it didn't matter in the scheme of things. What mattered was that she delivered some amazing shots (and they were amazing, she showed them to us). I was so inspired that night when I went to bed.

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Sunday was our last day and I was getting excited about returning home to my family. We had one last session though and it really made my entire weekend. Jessica Uhler spoke about Digital Storytelling and Documentary Photography. Her words really stuck with me. She asked us what brought us to photography. What drove us to take pictures. Why did we do it. I took all this in and after leaving her talk, I came home and took the following photo which speaks to my soul. This is why I take photos. I take photos to remember how little my kids are and yet how big they are getting. I take photos to show how beautiful my life is but also how messy it can be. I take photos to capture a moment in time that is passing by all too quickly. I take photos because it makes my heart soar. 


My Made to Create weekend was just the inspiration I needed. I've been feeling a bit of creative ennui lately and after this weekend, I was left feeling inspired and ready to create more.
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