It has now been a week since I left Sonoma Broadway Farms where the latest Blair and Thurston Photography Retreat was held. I had bit the bullet, paid the money and jumped on the opportunity a little under a year before the actual retreat and finally the day had arrived for me to fly to San Francisco to spend a week States side.
To be honest, I was not entirely sure what to expect of the retreat. I was excited to be meeting Elena S. Blair and Bre Thurston, two formidable photographers and business women who's work I had followed and courses I had studied for a number of years. Beyond that, I had no expectations.
The retreat began for me early in the morning as I made my way across San Francisco to catch my ride with three fellow attendees for the trip through to Sonoma. For me, this is where the retreat really began.
I had not at all anticipated the friendships I would make with fellow photographers on the retreat. This is what ultimately became the highlight of the entire experience for me.
Being a solopreneur can be a hard slog some days. I often feel like I need people to bounce ideas off. It's not that my friends don't listen or care! They've all certainly lent me their ears to bend while I've jabbered on about business over the years, bless their hearts! But there is something to be said about connecting with people who are right there in the trenches with you, facing the same challenges and celebrating the same successes.
And boy did this retreat deliver! I received plenty of tough love, critical feedback, and amazing encouragement about my work and business from some formidable creative minds. The amazing food and wine, sensational guest speaker, glorious shoot outs at golden hour, goal setting workshop, yoga session, wine tasting, roaming the working farm where we were staying and bonding with other boss babes all helped me to ultimately find my focus and come to a place of peace with what I love to create.
I learnt my work justifies itself. When I'm out there working with families who invest in the moment, who love, laugh and soak up all the goodness of their tribe while they're on their session with me, that's when the magic happens! I want those people in front of my camera!
The photos below from our golden hour shoot on the retreat speak for themselves. They reflect the hours I've poured into learning this craft over the years. They highlight my skills and how I create beautiful images while providing an experience not offered by anyone else but me. And I'm really, really proud of what I've accomplished.
You could say on this retreat, I finally accepted that I've got this. I'm an mum, an artist and a business women and I'm making it work each and every day.
Interestingly, the question I have been asked most since I got back is "Was it worth it?" and it's be hard to answer really. How do you put a price on clarity? On freedom? On permission to do what brings you joy and on newly forged friendships? I can't and so I won't. I'm simply going to allow the lessons I learnt be my guiding lights and the friends I made be my cheerleaders, while I in turn can be theirs. The value of this? 100% without a doubt - it's priceless.