Metal Mountain – The Heavy Hearted Retreat 2015 (aka. Finding your People)


I have sat on this blog post a long time. Sometimes it is just really hard to delve deep and get personal and remember this really important trip you took a month ago. A MONTH? that was now a month ago…..

 I joined a Facebook Group late last year with around 140 wonderful photographers. At first I was really intimidated…they are all insanely talented and successful, I felt so scared to even share anything! But then as I saw them posting and interacting I realized…we are not that different AT ALL. We all have insecurities, we all struggle at times owning our own business and we all are HUMAN. So I began posting and interacting and really getting to know these people. I quickly found out they were planning a Photographers Retreat to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee this February. I signed up. I WAS SCARED MAN. I didn’t know ANY OF THESE PEOPLE for more than a few conversations online. Then I started hanging in the google chat and realized THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. Sometimes, as a photographer it is hard to find and keep good friends. No one understand why you can’t do ANYTHING on ANY WEEKEND all summer long, why you are working nights, weekends, basically all the time. THESE PEOPLE GOT IT. THEY ARE IT. So I fell in love. With all of them. For so many differerent reasons.

Then the trip came. I drove a giant SUV (with 4WD..which will become important later…) with three other girls from Chicago. Megan, Meghan and Amanda. Driving 9 hours with these girls brought us so close. We jammed to tunes, chatted about photography and everything about life. It was a blast. I was so worried because at this time the south was calling for a HUGE SNOWSTORM! Well we kind of beat it. It had happened right before we left and again when we got there. When we got to Gatlinburg we found the road our air bnb house was on and I really wanted to even see if we could make it up to the house (the owner of the house said no one could get to it to clean it etc…so I just wanted to try). And we made it up. YES it was awful and YES it required 4WD and YES I thought I was going to die a few times going around those curves in the dark but we made it. I then made the realization that NO ONE ELSE is going to be able to make it up this mountain.

So I offered to pick everyone up from the bottom of the mountain.

I can’t even remember exactly how many trips I took picking people up but by the end of that first day I was exhausted. I would haul everyone up, unload their stuff and then have to go back down the mountain by myself to pick up the next group. Going up wasn’t so bad but going down was SCARY RIDICULOUS. It was so icy, cold and snowy that I had to go in a lower gear, 4WD low and the car still almost slid off the mountain a few times. I call it “Metal Mountain” because the only thing that kept me going was listening to heavy metal music…. On my last trip down the mountain we stopped to help some people (thanks Mike for coming with me on that one) and I slipped and fell HARD on my knee. I basically totally screwed it up for the remainder of the trip. So here is one of my favorite metal songs ever (I have a thing for girly metal groups and is rather vulgar). Metal saved my sanity when going down the mountain alone….. Oh and thank you Lauren for taking so many trips yourself. You are amazing.

You can see from the photos a lot were taken from the comfort of my cozy loft bed. A lot of people visited me and a lot of people helped me throughout the weekend. This was a journey where I realized this group of people ARE MY KIND OF PEOPLE. They are all so wonderful, caring, artistic and kind. I couldn’t ask for better friends. So because of my injury, I didn’t get to do much exploring or shooting outside. I spent most of it inside, in bed, in pain. But I did get to do a lot of boudoir shooting, and ventured out on the second to last day (because I was feeling better). And I still had a ton of fun. These people are the most amazing kind of people. They are not only amazing artists and great colleagues, but also amazing friends.

The weather got better..and everyone could eventually get their own cars up the mountain (amazing what a lack of freaking ICE will do!, damn you ice why were you in Tennessee ruining a bunch of Photographers good time!). We made the best of it in all sorts of ways.

I still have a lot to say about a few people (and some aren’t pictured..and that’s cause I was broken..) but I don’t even have the words. They know though. They know.

That was my trip. It changed my life.















Every stinking one of you beautiful people who went on this trip. I LOVE YOU. Thank you for being simply the best of everything around. You inspire me and uplift me on the daily and I can’t even really explain how awesome you are. So there. This trip was crazy and hectic and exhausting for me but it was amazing. It brought me so much closer to this amazing group of people and I couldn’t be happier about it, I have found my people.

Also has anyone seen my stuff that I lost?

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