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Bay Area Photographer

Carmen Robinson Shares her Experience

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Carmen Robinson Shares her Experience

The Blair Thurston retreat was transformational for me. I thought I would leave the retreat with some tips on how to be a better photographer, how to shoot in different types of light, and maybe I would meet some nice people. It far exceeded my expectations! 


But let me back up a bit…I knew since the first Blair Thurston retreat that I wanted to attend one. I have enjoyed following Bre and Elena’s work since finding them on Instagram and was looking for a smaller boutique learning experience, where I would have more hands on and face-to-face with the instructors. When they held the retreat only an hour away from home, I knew I had go.


The location, ambiance, itinerary and food did not disappoint! I don’t know about you, but when I go on vacation, I don’t usually plan for a personal chef, an in-home yoga session, or a private wine tasting. Bre and Elena went all out in making this retreat feel like a vacation where you don’t have to worry about a thing. They pay attention to all the little details and welcome you not just as a guest, but as a friend. 


The first thing we did on the retreat – after pouring glasses of wine and getting to know everyone as they arrived – was sit around the table and have a formal intro/welcome from our hostesses. I was a little anxious because I felt a bit out of place. In my mind, I hadn’t accomplished half the things these women had. I thought about an email I had received from Elena’s mailing list that had resonated with me at that time, Create Before you Consume. She talked about how comparing yourself to all the inspiration we see out there can stunt your growth as an artist and as a business woman; I was there and I needed to get out of that funk. 


I was honest and let everyone know that I didn't think I was at their level and that I was just there to absorb everything I could. But inside my head, I had so many questions swirling around: Who was I to be on this retreat with these talented business women? I was just starting out, was this the right place for me right now? 


Turns out, it was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. Coming out of the retreat I was invigorated with a new found confidence and plans...actual goals that I had written down and said out loud! 


The Blair Thurston retreat did more for me personally and creatively than I could have ever imagined. Bre and Elena genuinely want to see you succeed and are passionate about building a community where women support each other. I made lifelong friendships with a group of women I truly admire, and who I know I can go to for anything. This retreat was the best investment I have made in my photography journey and I would recommend it to anyone, especially if you find yourself unsure about what your next steps should be.


You can find Carmen's retreat photos below and view more of her work at the following:

www.photosbycarmenrobinson.com

www.instagram.com/carmspics/

www.facebook.com/CarmenRobinsonPhotography/

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The Words Of Alice Che | Malibu Photography Retreat

We are excited to share another attendees story.  Alice Che, of Alice Che Photography has graciously shared her experience and her images.  If you have not checked out her work, you can see it HERE.  She is a genius with self portraiture and very talented with couples.  I will let her take it away.  Enjoy! 

 

wo weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be a part of the very first Blair + Thurston Retreat. I have admired Bre and Elena for years now, but in the last year or so, I have grown to know them personally and am blessed to call them friends. When they announced that they were going to start holding in-person retreat style workshops, I knew immediately that I wanted to go. Despite knowing this, I almost talked myself out of it. I told myself I was barely in business and I also have very little interest in photographing families, which is one of Bre and Elena’s specialties. I also knew that I was already strong in the technicals and I wasn’t sure what I was hoping to take away from the experience. I was afraid that I wouldn’t learn anything and I would be wasting my money. I was wrong. 

The retreat was worth every single penny and more. I went into it thinking that at the very least, I would have an amazing time hanging out with Bre and Elena and the other girls. Instead, it was the beginning of friendships that will last a lifetime. I’m already trying to figure out how I am going to see these incredible women next!

 

Bre and Elena planned out every detail to make sure that the entire experience felt like a three day, luxurious vacation with your favorite girl friends. We had a private chef who prepared some of the best food I have ever had (uhm, deep fried lobster tails anyone?!) and we even got to have a yoga session with the sound of the waves crashing on the sand and the smell of bacon wafting out of the kitchen. Okay, so the bacon part was kind of torture… but it certainly made me motivated to make it through yoga, haha! The location was insanely gorgeous. We were literally right on the beach, making it easy to take breaks for quick walks between learning. This is the deck outside the room I shared with another attendee. 

 

But as amazing as all of those things were, they just helped create the setting. The best part of the retreat was hanging out with 9 incredibly talented women who are all at different places in their photography journey… and bonding with them over our shared passion for beautiful, emotional photographs. 

I was immediately impressed with how well Bre and Elena played off of each other. They pretty much have the exact same approach to photography: they are drawn to beautiful light, but more importantly, it is all about the connection and the moment. I loved seeing how they were able to stick to their own distinctive styles despite having such a similar underlying goal. They didn’t teach us to be them. They taught us how to find ourselves and keep pushing to be /our/ best, not someone else’s best.

If you follow my work, you know that I am NOT a family photographer. And yet, I was able to find my own style during the family session that we all photographed together. And I have Bre and Elena to thank for that. That’s why I want to share these photos with you instead of the ones from the couple session we did the next day that was much more in my wheelhouse. 

I walked out of the retreat feeling rejuvenated and inspired. I was reminded again to stick to my own path and not try to force myself into someone else’s mold. And, of course, the retreat reaffirmed how amazing the photography community is and brought me some incredible friendships. If you are thinking about attending the next Blair + Thurston Retreat, don’t hesitate. You won’t regret it!

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