Viewing entries tagged
Photography Inspiration

Emily Hines Shares her Experience

Comment

Emily Hines Shares her Experience

As a mom, it's HARD to leave town by yourself. As a business owner, it's even harder. Nobody can do either job the way you do! Ever since a friend told me about Blair + Thurston retreats, I've been dying to go on one. For a couple years, I came up with excuse after excuse why I couldn't go. Well, when they announced that they were having a retreat in California in the WINE COUNTRY I said to hell with all those excuses and I booked it immediately! Wine, photography, other moms...it was like the entire thing was made just for me. I was sold on the whole experience before I even arrived, which usually means there's no way it could live up to my expectations.

Well, it blew my expectations out of the water. From the moment we arrived, we were beyond spoiled. Wine in our glasses, boxes of gifts, private chefs cooking from us directly from the FARM WE WERE STAYING AT, are you kidding me? 

Y'all this retreat was SO much fun. It was the perfect balance of structure and free time. Elena and Bre gave us all straightforward advice on our portfolios and business direction. They were kind, honest and helpful.  Even during downtime, we were constantly learning from each other. Every woman there had unique talents and perspectives and everyone was beyond supportive and without judgement. 

The most valuable part is that we all now have a new tribe. I have a few tribes- mom friends tribe, old besties tribe, divorced friends tribe- but I was doing this photography thing in a vacuum all alone! To have these women in my corner now, and with the wealth of knowledge they all have- it's just a game changer. I came home with so many new ideas and a new energy to really take my business to the next level, and now I have talented people all over the country to go to for feedback, encouragement, and friendship. 

Anyway, one of the fun things we did was take photos of each other after we'd had a few glasses of wine (at our private wine tasting!). Here are a few photos I took of my new friends: 

You can check out more of Emily's work at her website, www.capturedaustin.com and her Instagram https://www.instagram.com/capturedaustin/ .

Comment

Amanda Hilfer Shares her Experience

Comment

Amanda Hilfer Shares her Experience

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.


You can view Amanda's shots from the family shoot-out from the last Sonoma retreat below! Be sure to follow the links to check out more of her work:

https://amandajoy-photography.com/

www.instagram.com/amandajoy_photography/

boutique photography retreat ignite your craft with blair thurston retreats | family lifestyle amanda joy photography
boutique photography retreat ignite your craft with blair thurston retreats | family lifestyle amanda joy photography
boutique photography retreat ignite your craft with blair thurston retreats | family lifestyle amanda joy photography
boutique photography retreat ignite your craft with blair thurston retreats | family lifestyle amanda joy photography
boutique photography retreat ignite your craft with blair thurston retreats | family lifestyle amanda joy photography
boutique photography retreat ignite your craft with blair thurston retreats | family lifestyle amanda joy photography

Comment

Carmen Robinson Shares her Experience

Comment

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/

boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography jenny grimm | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat california destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography stacey smith | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography amanda anderson | blair thurston retreats
boutique photographer retreat destination ignite your craft carmen robinson photography jenny grimm headshot | blair thurston retreats

Comment

Jen Frase Shares her Experience

Comment

Jen Frase Shares her Experience

I like to learn and I’d stay in school forever if I could…so I’ve been to lots of photography workshops before, and this Blair & Thurston retreat was, by far, the best one yet. It went so beyond my expectations and has given me more than any other photography workshop, retreat or conference ever has.

We were spoiled from the minute we walked in – the retreat was held at a beautiful farm and we were immediately given yummy wine and a delicious gourmet lunch. I was already sold. Even without the photography part, being spoiled like this with no kids to worry about, was just what a busy mom needed.

We spent the next two days getting pampered with more wine, more delicious food, private yoga, an inspiring guest speaker, a portfolio review, some super fun photo shoots and lots of encouragement from Bre, Elena and an incredibly supportive group of women. We were never bored, yet we never felt there was some crazy schedule we had to adhere to. It was the perfect balance of learning, work, introspection, fun….and wine.

I expected to learn about photography, which I certainly did, but there were two more huge takeaways for me, and these are two things that not one other photography retreat or workshop has ever done for me:

  1. Bre and Elena make a real effort to foster a community of like-minded, hard-working, passionate photographers to lean on each other. It was obvious from the start, we weren’t there JUST to learn from them. They wanted us to learn from each other – which we certainly, certainly did. And not just that, but we helped each other. We exchanged ideas, feedback, and resources, while taking time to really talk to each other about our hopes, dreams and struggles. None of my non-photographer friends really want to talk about my career or where I’m going with it – it’s hard for them to understand. I can’t tell you how good it felt to talk to women I admire, who share my passion for photography, about what’s next for me.
  2. Bre and Elena were adamant that it does no good for us to learn to shoot like them. In a world where everyone has a camera, the only thing that will set us apart…is ourselves: Our lives, our personalities, our passions and how WE see the world through our cameras. We can’t shoot what anyone else wants – the magic will come when we shoot what we want and how we want to. 

I left the weekend relaxed, inspired, recharged and excited about what’s next for me. I learned a lot but had a ton of fun doing it. There’s not much more I could have asked for.


Below are some of Jen's photos from our most recent Sonoma retreat. Be sure to check them out! You can find more of her beautiful work at:
http://www.jenfrasephotography.com/
https://www.instagram.com/jenfrasephoto/

blair thurston retreat boutique lifestyle photography workshop retreat girl's weekend getaway in sonoma, california | jen frase photograhy
blair thurston retreat boutique lifestyle photography workshop retreat girl's weekend getaway in sonoma, california | headshots by jen frase photograhy
blair thurston retreat boutique lifestyle photography workshop retreat girl's weekend getaway in sonoma, california | family outdoor session by jen frase photograhy
blair thurston retreat boutique lifestyle photography workshop retreat weekend getaway in sonoma, california | outdoor intimate family pose jen frase photograhy

Comment

Comment

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!

Comment

Comment

The Words Of A Malibu Attendee | Photography Retreat

We could go on and on about how wonderful we think the retreat was but you don't want to hear that from us.  We are so excited to have each individual attendee share their experience with you in their own words and with their own images.  We took care to make a loving and encouraging environment for each woman to grow.  Our job isn't to make our attendees be like us, not at all, but instead to be and find their best selves.  We also wanted to make sure it felt like the vacation we knew each and every attendee deserved.  

Allow me to introduce Kallie Pitcock.  Kallie is a photographer based out of Washington, DC.  You can find her website HERE.  

 

Now, I will let her words and beautiful photographs take over.  

The Blair & Thurston Retreat exceeded my expectations.  I am a person who craves community.  I want to be known and know others to feel encouraged and supported.  That happened in Malibu. 

I am in the early stages of photography.  I started my business a little over a year ago.  I was nervous I’d be lost in the talented group that would gather.  There is always a sense of vulnerability of sharing who you are with new people.   Photography is personal for me.

The technical skills and use of photography were varied among the women who attended.  That didn’t slow anyone down.  The creative energy swept through the house like a strong wind.  Elena and Bre were the first to open up and share personal stories of triumph and failure.  Taking the lead in what would be a life-changing weekend.

We all bonded in our love of emotive images.  In spite of our varied subjects we all want photos that evoke and touch the deepest parts of our soul.  Creating and finding those moments drove the weekend.  Love of light and utilizing its power was center to instruction. Editing with your own style was encouraged.  

Our portfolios were reviewed individually in front of the group.  We moved from one comfortable spot to the next for discussion, instruction, and questions.  The luxury of the experience elevated the weekend from work to vacation.  We ate slowly and shared our stories over dinner.  We had two styled shoots: One with a family and the other with a couple.  Both sessions Elena and Bre led by example then pushed each of us out of our comfort zone and encouraged us where we needed it. 

Through laughter and tears I shared my fears and dreams.  My creative soul was nourished and my thirst for knowledge was filled.  I walk away with friends.  I look forward to attending a Blair & Thurston Retreat again.   

 

Kallie

Comment