How to Get The Most Out of Your Retreat, Plus, 12 Things You Want on Your Packing List

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Are you joining us for Inspire 2017? Or perhaps you're attending a different workshop or retreat? Read on for our tips on how to get the most out of your time at a retreat or workshop. It’s a perfect time of year to add to your business toolbox, so if you haven’t registered for Inspire yet, there is still time to save yourself a spot!

Be Open to Surprises You’ll find a lot of serendipitous surprises if you’re open to them - you may meet someone who has very similar business challenges to you, or you may meet someone who can finally help you reduce the difficulty that you have with one aspect of managing your business. If you prime yourself mentally, you’ll be ready for these fortuitous connections.

Set Goals You'll also get more out of the content of the retreat if you do a little pre-retreat homework. We recommend a journal entry where you explore these three questions:

  1. What is one burning question that I have?
  2. What is the biggest challenge that I'm facing in my business and my work as an artist?
  3. What is one goal that I have for my business? 

Be prepared to share some of your thoughts about these questions with your fellow attendees. We encourage you to set aside a few quiet moments each day to revisit your goals and track your progress.

Cheer Your Peers At Inspire we are firm advocates of peer-to-peer mentoring, so we also want to emphasize that you can help others have a better retreat experience by asking them these same questions. “What is a goal that you have while you’re here?” is a great 'getting-to-know-you' question for someone you're meeting for the first time at our retreat.

Bring a Positive Attitude This may be the most important factor in getting the most out of your retreat. … after all, this is part of why you are here! The more you reach the more you’ll get out of a conference or retreat. 

In this caffeinated world, I’m always sure to travel with herbal tea bags!
— Kim

Creature Comforts When is the last time you spent 4 nights in a hotel room? What creature comforts from home did you miss that would have made your stay more comfortable? We asked our Inspire community for their list and here is what they told us:

  • Electric Water Kettle:  "It takes up room in my luggage but it makes all the difference to be able to make coffee just the way I like it in my room."
  • "I bring my own towel. The bleached linens do a number on my sensitive ginger skin!”
  • Herbal Tea: “I quit caffeine a few years ago, so in this caffeinated world, I'm always sure to travel with herbal tea bags!”
  • Multi Outlet Extension: “So I can charge laptop, phone, watch, etc at the same time wherever I want in the room”
  • Water Bottle “it’s hard to stay hydrated in a hotel!”
  • Notebook and pen "It's kinder to fellow attendees than sitting there with a bright screen which can be super distracting. I’m also more focused when I write in a notebook than when I use a laptop"
  • Cold Medicine “and ibuprofen/tylenol too… late nights + dry hotel environment + travel are a perfect storm for a winter cold”
  • Mini-Humidifier: “Why be miserable when I’m staying in nice hotel for several nights?"
  • A Water Glass “I hate using the glasses in hotel rooms, so I bring my own!”
  • Pillow “nothing says home like my own pillow!"
  • Packets of Oatmeal “a yummy hearty breakfast in my own room helps get the day started”
  • Cash “Lots of $1 bills for tips to hotel staff, and bar tips. Also, some conference venues only offer a cash bar, so don’t forget to bring bring cash for your beverage purchases."

We're counting the days till we get to check into our cozy hotel rooms in Newport and reconnect with the Inspire community... If you have anything to add to this list, write it in the comments below! 

There's still space to join the 2017 Inspire Photo Retreat. REGISTER HERE

2017 Intensive Workshops

Intensive Workshops at Inspire 2017

The first day of the 3-day Inspire retreat is dedicated to full-day workshops. Read on to learn what we have on offer for Day 1 our upcoming retreat (February 27, 2017):

Ashley & Graham Scobey

Ashley & Graham Scobey

Build a Business That Supports Your Dreams

Together we will dive into the nitty gritty of what it actually LOOKS like to Build A Business That Supports Your Dreams. A lot of workflow, timesavers and setting yourself up for automation in your business so that you have more time for the things that you love.

Spencer Lum

Spencer Lum

Creating a Profitable Brand

The more competitive the climate, the harder it becomes to stand out and take a brand from attractive to profitable. In this talk, Spencer will walk you through the real principles that make people say "Heck yeah!" and pay more for it, as well as why a deep connection with your photography is more vital for business now than ever.

Dani Diamond

Dani Diamond

Capturing Light & Developing Your Style in Post Production

Dani begins each teaching by helping people to understand light, the light from the constantly available source, the sun. The secret to Dani’s style comes in his capturing of dynamic range and his post processing workflow. Through this, Dani manipulates lighting in computer, refining what nature gave him. Unlike many instructors he doesn’t just teach you how to do this, but explains why you should do each step. Dani will teach how to make images sharper, how to make them stand out more, how light and shadows are really the key to making the eye see images. Dani will teach how color theory and color grading completely transform images, making them stand out compared to competitors. While Dani photographs in most natural light, his technics are useable in all types of photography.

Vanessa Joy

Vanessa Joy

Don't Be Afraid of Off Camera Flash

Learn easy set-ups and the first steps to adding off camera flash to your natural light portfolio. It doesn't have to be as hard as it looks and it can help you create a natural light look when it’s not golden hour and incredible photos in less-than-ideal lighting situations. Learn with Vanessa while she shows you how she eased into using OCF consistently for her natural light style portfolio, gives you tips and tricks to using it quickly and effectively to prepare you for using it yourself in the field. Then, shoot alongside Vanessa as she demos all she's taught you in applicable scenarios going more in-depth on how to set up lighting shots, get the exposure, adjust for imperfections, play with coloring and much more. By the end of this workshop, you'll have the confidence you need to start implementing off camera flash into your shooting repertoire with ease.

Sarah Dugan

Sarah Dugan

Getting Down and Dirty in the Daylight: Salt-Printing and Cyanotypes

Digital photography is great - no, really it is! But every once in a while, don't you have a moment where you wish you could create imagery and art that was hands on and wasn't in front of a computer screen, holed up in a little office? Wouldn't it be freeing to paint with sunlight and create in your own kitchen?
Cyanotypes and Salt Printing are two alternative processes that have seen a resurgence in the world of photography. Both have a low barrier for entry: they don't require a darkroom to prepare a surface and can be exposed using only the UV rays of the sun. What perhaps started out as photograms in an elementary art classroom has gained traction, once again, in the fine art community and is now seeing beyond a fringe following at the Penumbra Foundation in NYC, Maine Media and the Santa Fe Workshops.
Come experience this new way to flex your creativity, incorporating both the analog and the digital realms, getting your hands dirty along the way!* Pre-Inspire I will be asking participants for 2 files they would like to use when creating salt prints and cyanotypes. I will be creating transparencies ahead of time for participants to use; however I will review the process so that they will be able to continue on post-workshop.

Carla Ten Eyck

Carla Ten Eyck

It All Starts With You: Being an Excellent Human Being

It’s time to take control back in your business, your personal life and what you put out to the world. We attract what we put out there for everyone to see! It is all connected, and will either set you up for your idea of success or failure. Existing in a positive space will enable you to create work you are proud of. Imagery and products that you know well and feel really good about will only make it easier for you to make money! Who feels good selling products they don’t believe in? I went from not knowing important business information I should have had a solid handle on to now feeling the most in control I have ever felt with my business and life. I am not stressed out and losing sleep, but instead am creating work that I am proud to put my name on, and affecting change within my community at the same time. I do believe we can have it all, once we define what ‘having it all’ means to us. Come ready to workshop these ideas, share openly about what you struggle with, leave with a plan and most importantly a community who will support you!

Phillip Blume

Phillip Blume

Light Makes Right: The Rise of a Benevolent Portable Flash Master

Think quick: Which looney tyrant said "Power comes from the barrel of a gun?" Answer: Who cares? He's dead.More importantly, who ever said "Image quality comes from the barrel of a Zeiss 85mm/1.2?" Sure, that's some gorgeous glass. But the Sistine Chapel isn't an iconic work of art because DaVinci used Carl Zeiss paintbrushes. Neither a camera nor the barrel of a lens can give you the power to hone your craft or dominate your market as a photographer. Only a mastery of light can do that!As international wedding photographers, Phillip and Eileen stress the crucial role played by both stylized and natural-looking flash in their work, to lift their images off the page and into the hearts of their clients. Play with the Blumes as you experiment with various off-camera flash techniques and various equipment (from cheap to pricey) to get the desired result during every part of a hectic wedding day.


the complete teaching staff for Inspire 2017 includes: Tyler Wirken, Rebecca Ickes, Phillip Blume, Kate McElwee, Ashley & Graham Scobey, Joel Wiebner, Vanessa Joy, Jen Rozenbaum, Sarah Dugan, Petronella Lugemwa, Andrew Funderburg, Wendell Fernandes, Kevin Jairaj, Huy Nguyen, David Murray, Dani Diamond, Spencer Lum, Carla Ten Eyck, Kristi Odom

the complete teaching staff for Inspire 2017 includes: Tyler Wirken, Rebecca Ickes, Phillip Blume, Kate McElwee, Ashley & Graham Scobey, Joel Wiebner, Vanessa Joy, Jen Rozenbaum, Sarah Dugan, Petronella Lugemwa, Andrew Funderburg, Wendell Fernandes, Kevin Jairaj, Huy Nguyen, David Murray, Dani Diamond, Spencer Lum, Carla Ten Eyck, Kristi Odom

Report from behind the lens: Stephen Wang at Inspire 2016

Report from behind the lens: Stephen Wang at Inspire 2016

Photographer Stephen Wang documented the 2016 Inspire Photo Retreat. In this blog post he shares his experience in this role. "For the past four winters, I've attended Inspire Photo Retreat, a 3-day retreat/seminar/convention for professional photographers.  It's about 250ish photographers, mostly from New England, with workshops, mentoring, and networking.  It's a fantastic event to attend for new and veteran photographers alike."

2016 Inspire Speaker Dave Jackson - Art is Dangerous

2016 Inspire Speaker Dave Jackson - Art is Dangerous

Over the Halloween season as my team and I were preparing to begin pre-production on our short film, House No. 613, I came across a behind the scenes look at director Rob Zombie’s film The Devil’s Rejects. While watching an interview segment with Rob, he talked about the story development and overall concept for the movie and brought up an intriguing idea stating, “Art is dangerous.”

Inspire 2016 Speaker Carla Ten Eyck - The Power Music Has on Me

The thing that will absolutely put me into orbit is if it has a soundtrack that I can just find myself swimming in emotionally… my heart strings are being attended to, my adrenaline is all fired up and flowing, then I am lulled back into melancholia land while spooned from behind, my quilt tucked in gently under my chin. I would wonder… what would my soundtrack be like today?