Somewhat spontaneously, I flew off to Click Retreat in the Outer Banks last week. Three days in a newly built luxury ocean front home with my sister and our friend Grace, working on our photography together. No kids. No spouses. Just a bunch of passionate women and the talented photographer Me Rah Koh. My kind of bliss.
The trip started out fairly disastrously. We landed in a middle of a NorEaster. My luggage was lost. And at 6AM after my midnight arrival, the house was struck by lightning, scaring me ALMOST to the point of wetting the bunk bed I was sharing with my sister. The words, “We’re all going to die! This is the end!” may have come out of my mouth as I shook her befuddled, ear plugged head.
The sun only appeared briefly during our time at the beach, but the grayness and the lightning only added to the magic of the retreat. Shrouded in a world of fog, with nothing to do but learn and play with our cameras, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and took the time to experiment. I never would have imagined that a drab and misty dawn beach walk could yield such a riot of rich grays and browns.
It took a while for me to settle down and embrace being still. The last time I really thought about the mechanics of photography was five years ago, when I took a photography basics class at our local community college from a cranky bird photographer. Since then, I’ve gotten comfortable with certain settings for food photography and leaving things in auto when shooting the kids in motion. My brain rebelled against the exercise at first, but little by little, I stopped fearing the unknown and started playing with ISO and being in manual rather than aperture or shutterspeed priority. I may be getting geeky here, but stay with me.
I saw the results as soon as I got home. With a deep reserve of peace from my days away, Bella’s soccer game came to life, and I captured the relationships on the sideline as well. I’m playing with my camera again instead of reaching for the iPhone, and ordering new prints throughout the house. Life is always so busy, a blur of activity, but just as the months speed by, so does my children’s lives. By having taken a few days off to learn something new, I’m rejuvenated, reenergized, and ready to capture our lives with my lens with renewed passion.
The amazing Rachael who planned this getaway is planning another in the spring. I’m all in. There’s more I want to learn. I can see myself right back in that cozy house, working on my photo editing, quietly writing and pushing the boundaries in unimaginable ways. Getting away makes me a better mom and a better me. Until I get back there, I’ll be holding the memories of the peace of those gray mornings close, like a little nugget of cold amidst the chaos of my days.