A few weeks ago, I traveled to sunny California to attend a creative renewal retreat called Yeah Field Trip, created years ago for photographers who are worn out from attending photography conferences that conjured up feelings of “stuffy ballrooms, recycled air, and fluorescent lights."
While I’m not a pro photographer, I was required to take photography in college as a Visual Communications major and I use photography in most of my design work. Regardless, I can nerd out and sit in awe of work of the professionals!
My good friend brought Field Trip to my attention, and when I learned this year’s retreat was happening in California where we could glamp (or camp if we wanted to), I was immediately hooked! I had been feeling the need to take a break from the concrete jungle of my growing Texas suburb. The promise of getting some fresh air while meeting other creatives drew me in. It was also a great excuse for my friend Megh and I to meet in a new place for a vacation together!
At the end of the week, Megh and I both agreed… It was the BEST trip and worth EVERY PENNY!
El Capitan Canyon is less than 30 minutes from Santa Barbara and right on the coastline. It was GORGEOUS! We were surrounded by stunningly tall trees and lots of fun outdoor activities to choose from. We attended "classes" inside of large tents and circular yurts (small tents with hardwood floors that hold about 15 people).
Every class was incredibly interactive. A few of the classes even included hiking up the mountain or down to the beach with a camera to take photos. The retreat was casual and low pressure, so I may have used a couple of the time slots to take a nap.
A few of the things I was able to enjoy were:
> business chats
> friend time
> sound baths (with wolves!)
> energy healing
> love from teachers at breakfast, lunch, and dinner
> block printmaking
> walks on the beach
> soaking in beautiful California
So many talented visual people were there. Take a look at this sick visual video recap by @andrewhardy, who makes images and films in Australia:
Messages that really resonated with me:
"I am stronger than I could ever imagine." - Josh Solar
The first class I attended was a breathwork class where we participated in intense, guided deep-breathing exercises. The above quote was one of the mantras we recited together. Since strength is my word of the year for 2018 and is something I struggle with, I really resonated with that mantra and sat with it for the rest of the class and trip.
"Live in the death surge." - The Parsons
The incredible husband/wife photography team that happened to shoot my wedding almost five years ago (fun fact: they also shot my friend’s wedding!) also attended the retreat and gave a wonderful talk. I was thrilled they spoke at YFT and was giddy for the opportunity to hug them both after so many years.
During their talk, they shared the idea of "living in the death surge” - the time just before death where your brain gives its last burst of energy. At this moment, the person is happy and carefree, enjoying all that is around in them in the present moment. Physical things don't matter, yet hugs and laughs do. The "surge" is so well known that medical teams recognize this moment and know when the person is close to passing away. I know this may sound a little morbid, but what an idea, right?!
If we can just take time to relax, listen, and enjoy what is happening in the present moment, we can appreciate life so much more.
I'm challenging myself to be more present in my work and my everyday life, especially as a mom.
"Follow the whispers." - Jeremy Cowart
I jotted this down in my sketchbook as soon as I heard it. Jeremy was talking about sharing your dreams (or those little whispers in your head) with somebody and not being afraid to pursue dreams. I've heard countless quotes that mean the same thing - "Lean In," "Go with your gut," etc. - but "follow the whispers" seemed to stick with me as it was so REAL.
Jeremy shared his own story with us about how he struggled with having a short attention span as a child. He turned his weaknesses into strengths, which impacted his art and helped him to develop his own personal style of photography. His images are simply incredible!
Since he struggles with memorizing presentations, he put a unique spin on his Yeah Field Trip talk. He decided to draw his story and live-narrate it on stage for us. You can watch the video of his extremely moving story here.
"People are hungry for images of real people in real life."
Did you know that all of our selfie cameras don't actually have the correct lens to show what we really look like? That's why those face snapshots always look juuuust a little different.
In the same vein, sometimes what we see online isn’t an accurate representation of the truth. We all struggle with something underneath the Instagram filters. What I’m learning is that the more authentic I am online - in both my laughter and my tears - the deeper and more meaningful my connections become with other people. It’s hard to be vulnerable sometimes, but it is always worth it.
Yeah Field Trip may look like a retreat dedicated to photographers only, but it’s actually an incredible opportunity for all kinds of creative people! I learned SO much from my time there and highly recommend it if you’re looking for some creative renewal, rest, and inspiration.
Sad that you missed this year’s Yeah Field Trip? Don’t be! The creative geniuses behind it are working on their next big event and you’re invited! While I don't know all the details, they’ve been hinting at a retreat in Marfa, TX in 2019! Hop over and get on the waitlist so you can be the first to hear about it!