Since last Wednesday, my head is reeling with the events of the past week. My days were filled with gorgeous styled sessions, wonderful models, photographers from all over the US and Canada, great food, amazing light, incredible bonding time and a chance to fill that deep call in us to connect to people who truly "get" us. Photographers and creatives are strange ducks. We have truly weird quirks about us that make us unique and crazy and sometimes hard for the average Joe to take in. But when you are surrounded by others just like you, in an environment specifically curated for you to thrive and shine, something truly magical happens. You wake up exhausted and refreshed at the same time, ready to take on the world. That is what is waiting for you at the Hustle & Hearth Retreat. Mahlia went above and beyond with her team, vendors and creatives to create styled sessions, campfire teaching and an setting that helps creatives thrive.
I struggled with really how to write this blog post. I debated on how my audience would want to read about this trip. Would they want it like my travel blog where I describe in detail where we went, what we ate, where we shot and all the little details...or...would they want to really hear the heart and soul of what this retreat was. I decided on the latter and deleted nearly everything I had already typed. Something like this is a bit different than my travel blog and needs to be told differently. I opted to share a few photos from the things we did that truly show what this was like and to skip a bunch of details.
My dad flew out with me for a sort of mini vacation out of Cheyenne for the week. We escaped another bomb cyclone snow storm in Colorado and Wyoming again. Literally the same day that we flew out. When I went to New Mexico the same exact thing happened. I promise you, it's not my fault. Before he dropped me off to my retreat house, we knew some local food needed to be on the menu. We opted for Hattie B's Hot Chicken that a local very enthusiastically suggested that we hit.
The opportunities to bond with other creatives was amazing! We had a fantastic time filming for the Hustle & Hearth marketing video while we enjoyed each other's company over to catered family style dinner on the rooftop, FIVE FLOORS up.
The next morning we were up early to head over to a wedding styled session with some pretty amazing vendors! Hustle & Hearth designed and planned everything with their team and it was spectacular! Food was Raelene with Chef Penelope. Wedding cake by Katelin Hayes Desserts. Noah Liff Opera Center was our stunning venue. The three string music was provided by Viva La Strings Nashville. Wedding planner is Weddings and Events by Raina. The Artisan Abode, Allen Make Art painted a fabulous painting during this event of the venue and wedding. Fresh by Carryann. Hello Beautiful. Tennessee Event Designs. White Room Formal. Her Signature Events. The Black Tux. Center of the Table. Rings by Bethany Crandell. Concoctions Bartending.
While I choose not to be a primarily wedding photographer, I looked at this day like the greatest hands on learning event ever. I shoot weddings and I feel that I am pretty good at them. I prefer to have a rowdy little one with his family or a glowing pregnant mama in front of my lens. But, there is always a place to learn and grow and get better. I've shot LOTS of weddings but there was still a few things at this that I did not know which was awesome!! I love to learn and grow and I wanted to be able to offer a better experience for those few brides that I do work with so I dove right in with both feet!
After dinner Mahlia had planned a sweet little family session in downtown Nashville. I taught this one as well and it was so much fun!! This little family was so sweet and the pedestrian bridge that we shot it at was stunning!
The next morning was a busy day of an early morning mural tour around downtown Nashville, some sight seeing at the Parthenon of Nashville and downtown Broadway. It was filled with artists, food and live music! Treats abounded here and I was in love with all the things we could do here!
This man right here....I waited to save his story for my blog instead of social media. Of all the things that we shot and experienced in Nashville, this homeless man, James, turned my world upside down. I came out of a shop and saw him sitting here and it literally took my breath away. I told my dad to hang back and that I wanted to grab a photo of this man. I walked up to him, sat down right in front of him and chatted with him. I told him, "Sir, you are the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. Do you mind if I take a photo of you? You are absolutely perfect." He had those eyes that sparkled and shook when he talked and never once let go of eye contact with me. I find that it's rare that anyone can lock eyes with another person and actually carry on a conversation with them. The confidence this man had when he said, "Sure baby. I don't mind at all." He rocked my insides. He had such deep eyes. Those ones that you can see their soul dancing right there on the surface as they stare back at you.
That night I was teaching my specialty, maternity. I had planned this amazing boho styled session and the Hustle & Hearth team NAILED my vision. Sew Trendy Accessories were kind enough to sponsor my sessions! This gown and crown, as well as the body suit and crown for my milk bath, were provided by Sew Trendy! If you get the opportunity to work with one of their gowns, you will be amazed at their quality!
I was stunned how well put together the entire retreat was. Every detail was planned. Every model, outfit, vendor and outfit were perfectly styled, coordinated and flowed perfectly. The amount of content that poured out of every moment of each day was unreal. The next day, I was teaching a nursing milk bath session. We were able to repurpose florals from other sessions and bring new life to something that was only used once.
We also shot a styled triple senior session taught by Karen Shoufler out of Illinois! It was just gorgeous!!!
So, in hindsight, would I attend another retreat by Hustle & Hearth??? Yes. Yes, I would. I plan on teaching at their next on in November or January and I will keep you updated as that pans out. If you are a creative, you will not want to miss this opportunity to attend their retreat. They call to LOTS of different genres of creatives so get in touch with Mahlia to see where you fit!
This retreat was stuffed full of excellent food, quality bonding and teaching times as well as some steller sessions to add content to your portfolio that is unique and new. Don't miss your chance to be a part of this too!