Brynn | Hamilton Pool Bridal Session

hamilton pool wedding photos

It’s always awesome when someone I actually know contacts me about wedding photography. Brynn and I went to high school together and asked if we could shoot her bridal portraits at Hamilton Pool Nature Reserve a few days before her wedding. “I don’t care about showing them off at the reception,” she said. “I just want some bad-ass fancy-pants photos of me in my wedding dress there!” So after Brynn flew down from Boston for her wedding week, she gathered two bridesmaids, her dress, a beaded headband created by her mother, a handmade cape necklace she’d worked on for 16 hours, and her hiking shoes, and we traipsed down to the natural pool. Not many people were around, so we had free reign to shoot all over the place. Brynn was awesome and trekked around in her Seychelles.

A few days later, she and Bryan got married. I can’t wait to share photos from that day with you, but for now, here is Fearless Brynn rocking it out.

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‘What If’ Day Camp NYC

As far as workshops go, I was wholly unprepared for What If Day Camp from the very beginning. I’m going to be truthful — I didn’t know what What If was. My friends and fellow wedding photographers Christy Tyler and Katie Jane went to a week-long What If conference earlier in 2013, came home, and gushed. They said it changed their perspective on how they lived life and how they operated their businesses. But, they said, it was hard to explain what the conference was really like. So when the topic of a single-day camp (more of a workshop than a “camp”) came up, I was intrigued enough to buy the ticket, which was a pretty affordable $199. I bought mine early enough that I even got a $50 discount. A life-changing conference for only $149? Sure. Absolutely. In New York? Let’s do it.

One of the biggest reasons why I went to New York for this conference was to meet with other like-minded, awesome photographers I’ve gotten to know for the past three years online, as we were all converging in Brooklyn to attend. I was very happy to see Emilia Jane again (she’d visited Texas twice before) and to meet with Katie Jane, Amber MarlowKelly Prizel, and Sarah from Smitten Chickens.

what if conference attendees brooklyn

I’d heard only good things about the conference, so I went to this shortened day camp version with good expectations. At the end of the conference, I wasn’t sure if those expectations had been met. But, it did give me a lot of things to think about, and I’ve been chewing all of that over for the past few weeks. Succinctly:

  • Tamara Lackey talked about money.
  • Jen Bebb talked about failure.
  • Natalie Norton talked about prioritizing.
  • Mary Marantz talked about seizing opportunity.

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When I was younger and in school, my life trajectory looked a bit like this: educate, graduate, move on to a 9-5 job and earn a steady salary until it’s time to retire. End. So what happens when you’re not really a part of the system? How do you reconcile your life with the life that you thought you’d have for the last 15-20 years? I’ve been working on my “working for yourself” recaps for about a year now and I still have a lot of days where I just don’t see the big picture. What If was a fresh way to look at this life.

So the things I took away from the camp were:

  • don’t be afraid of money.
  • where I want to be in 5 years.
  • and how to do that in my day-to-day (as simple as that sounds, the execution is a bit more difficult).

brownstone bagels and kelly

It was a pretty “intensive” (for lack of a better word) day, with us not just listening but also giving back. The first half of the session was spent listening to speakers, and the next bit was us divided into smaller groups to talk amongst ourselves, share stories, do exercises, and write down goals.

The camp did not blow my mind. I might’ve hyped it too much after listening to my friends’ stories about their time in the DR — and as Katie Jane says, it’s hard to compare a week-long trip of a small cluster of people getting to know each other and exposing all their vulnerabilities, with a short workshop that was only 8 hours long. But I did appreciate the insight of the four women who spoke and it’s given me a jumping-off point for creating a better day-to-day life.

the met in B&W

New York (on Film)

Why do you travel?

I was mulling this over after I got back from New York several weeks ago. I think I travel to get out of my head, to slip on another identity. I’m not just Elissa-who-lives-in-Austin-and-shoots-weddings; in New York I was Elissa-who-knows-her-way-around-the-subway-system (though not really… thank you, Google Maps, for the assist).

New York was invigorating! The air was cold (not something I’m used to in September), people were everywhere, and the sky was crowded with buildings. I enjoyed it a lot more than the last time I was in the Big Apple, but I was very glad to come home to the big skies in Texas.

I decided to travel light and brought my film camera instead of my big rig. Digital has spoiled me — it was a big mental challenge to use film again. I’m not 100% happy with what I produced but wanted to share anyway :) I’ll write more about the What If Day Camp conference next week; these are just my out-and-about photos of my four days in NYC.

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