A week long photography retreat in the beautiful Welsh countryside at Fforest camp, near Cardigan.
Our wonderful friend Laura Babb (a fellow Homie) had taken it upon herself to create and host a retreat for photographers and other creative people alike. The general concept was to combine a variety of speakers, a chance to think, to play, relax and connect …to live, breathe, to inspire and be inspired…
We were so lucky and bloody grateful to be invited to speak and hopefully make some sense to others…. But then this joyous, heart busting week of self-reflection, manic celebration and mind-expanding concepts became the tonic that both Emma and me desperately needed…
To Segway a little… as you may know, we’ve been away for a lot of the last six months. Emma and I did something we’d always talked about and went and travelled around the world.
It was a wonderful experience for the two of us both in terms of ourselves and our lives together. When I was younger I’d always dreamed of the idea of travelling, of seeing exciting landscapes and delving into other cultures, always doing something thrilling, wild and indulgent… But while we travelled it never really felt like that, it actually felt very normal and every day, but a little less complicated, the most important decisions were… “What are we eating?” or “where are we staying?” or “how are we getting there” beyond that it was a very freeing expansive amount of time to actually sit and think and talk openly about our lives, sometimes it was difficult, because here you are on the other side of the World supposedly living the dream and thinking that you should be thrilled at every single turn… and often your thoughts are on bigger things, real stuff that affects us all…. Then the crazy guilt for not being appreciative or adventurous enough while on your travels, I guess personally it made me question where my home is, where do I belong? How can I make a positive difference to others? I had an urge to tell my friends and family how much I loved them immediately! By the end of our trip we were actually craving some structure, some realness, home… wherever that is.
So we arrived back in the UK at the beginning of April, a bit confused and bedraggled, long haul flights and dirty clothes had taken their toll, it took us a while to decompress and evaluate… I was immediately depressed by it all. Nothing felt real, it was frustrating as all the thoughts and wonderful plans we’d discussed felt so far away in another headspace, a freer headspace, so I was very withdrawn and self analysing and emotional, the last thing I wanted to do was socialise, or talk or convey any feelings to anyone.
We went over our talk for SNAP; a little bit terrified… what would we say? How did we view things now? What is important? It all felt weirdly negative, I guess it was coming from a real place, that we wanted to share and hopefully we could make it ok for things not to be perfect, for it to be ok to not want to compete and yell and hustle for the attention that often goes with the territory of being wedding photographers. To hopefully find the real space where we belong and not be afraid to share that.
When we arrived on the Wednesday lunchtime I felt instantly lifted, a tangible sense of freedom and easiness returned, we chatted to friends we hadn’t seen for a long time, also to new friends who we made instant connections with, we sat and watched other speakers and felt the surge of excitement and thrill that comes with being around like other minded souls, we’d found our crew again!
That evening a small group of us sat around a little fire inside and discussed the concepts of what we do, how we do it, how we see the world and with fizzing brains, the wonderful intellect of this life and how we view it came swirling into focus. It was wonderfully thrilling and life affirming to be surrounded by people who thought the same and felt the same…. It was Home.
It really doesn’t matter how many weddings you shoot, how many followers you have, how many likes you get on Instagram…curating a brand or curating a life…. these are all arbitrary things, they are in flux and they will never last. What we found and what we knew all along was that the people you surround yourself with, your tribe, your network of thinkers and doers and the real life, real, beautiful, painful, ugly, ordinary life is what makes everything worthwhile, if you don’t experience everything then really you experience nothing.
SNAP brought all of this gloriously into focus (pun intended) and more than anything taught me to continue to be open to all experiences, good and bad, but most importantly people, to live without fear and without judgement. On several occasions I was left awestruck in the most thrilling way, attitudes to life and concepts on human existence had me clutching my chest in overwhelming happiness and gratitude for what I was hearing and at the same time having the opportunity to be one of the lucky few to experience this on all levels. Even though there were so many different styles and approaches there was a wonderful common thread throughout every person in attendance.
As we all left to return to our regular lives, and exchanged massive hugs, while weeping with joy, every single person said, “Why can’t this be real life? The real world needs to be one big community like this”…. It all feel so gloriously connected, the all encompassing community of Welcome Home, our dear friends in New Zealand with A Bit More Soul and now again with SNAP.
We want to say an enormous thank you to every single person we had the pleasure of meeting, thank you to all the other Speakers who set those butterflies well and truly off again.. and thank you to Laura for making it all happen.
Here’s to the next adventure…
Also check out this wonderful video by the lovely Will from Scree.Tv…
To find out more info about SNAP and to keep in the loop for next year’s dates go head to the SNAP WEBSITE!
Thank you to the wonderful Jillian Powers (who is an absolute bloody sweetheart) for the following photos.. (and the one at the top of this post). We never usually get photos of us actually working!
What a wonderful few days with a wonderful bunch of people..
We also wanted to mention this wonderful post about SNAP from our wonderful fellow Speaker Karl Grupe. I think it’s one of the most articulate posts we’ve read in a long time and it’s something that should be shared..
So… who’s coming next year???