Years ago, I felt a tug on my heart to foster a deeper sense of community among my fellow wedding photographers. In our industry, it can be far too easy to compare ourselves to one another and grow isolated by discouragement and feeling like we don’t measure up. Wedding season can be a difficult and exhausting time, especially without friends by your side. I became to dream about what this could look like, and soon enough, Dwell was born. I approached a group of women, some of whom I knew and some who I didn’t, and asked them if they’d be interested in retreating into the BC wilderness for a weekend to rest, worship Jesus, create, and grow in community with one another. I invited them into vulnerability with friends and complete strangers, and they all said yes.
As you know, I have a deep love for the Southern Gulf Islands, so of course I made Pender Island our home base for our weekend away. We packed our cars full of gear and boarded a ferry together- nervous energy and all. Thankfully, the moment the ferry departed, we were invited up to visit with the captain and crew and a few of us even got to steer the ferry (a dream come true for Kat!)
A generous thank you to the incredible Camp Brand Goods for outfitting us on our adventures! I’ve loved Camp Brand for years, and truly appreciate their commitment to fostering community and storytelling. They featured our journey on their blog, the Good Times Journal, if you’re interested in checking it out!
All 9 girls in attendance of this weekend are incredibly gifted photographers. Please feel free to browse their incredible work here:
We rented a beautiful home on the ocean on South Pender Island. Perhaps my favorite part was the gorgeous sunroom overlooking the beach, which is where we spent a large majority of our time. Another special thanks to the incredible Salt Spring Coffee, which kept us caffeinated with coffee and mugs for all! I’ve been drinking this organic and fair trade coffee for years! After fueling up, we spent the last remaining hour of daylight on the beach, capturing some creative portraits of one another.
Mornings were probably my favorite time on our retreat. There is something about sharing a meal around a table full of laughter and friends that is soul-filling. After breakfast each morning, we would spend some time in worship and listening to teaching in the sun room.
On Pender Island, there are adventures around every corner, so we took advantage of the many trails and explored to our hearts content. Our first afternoon was spent having a seaside picnic and checking out an enchanted forest (legitimately what it was called, and I have to agree!). Then, it was back to our little slice of airbnb heaven for some relaxing in the hot tub!
It goes without saying that when 9 photographers get together, there will be some fun creative things happening. We played with lights and smoke bombs one evening and experimented to our hearts content before heading in to build a fire and share our stories with one another. Each evening, if we felt comfortable enough, a few girls would share their life stories with the group. This time spent together was probably the most fruitful of the entire trip. We laughed together, cried together, and even UGLY cried together. The bond built through hearing how God has worked in our lives knit us together so tightly. It was an uplifting and encouraging time. It only grew my love for these girls more and more.
On our last day, we took things slow and packed up. We took a quick hike up some cliffs overlooking the ocean. Check out my great selfie shot- long arms come in handy!
Sadly, our time came to an end far too quickly and we began the journey home. We parted as friends with roots grown deep, and it has only continued to deepen and grow in the two years since. Only a few months after this retreat, four of us became pregnant! We journeyed through pregnancy together, and now motherhood. I suspect that’s part of the reason it has taken me two years to finally tell this story, since I was one of the women who became a mom during that time. A difficult pregnancy and adjustment into motherhood (while running a business) has caused me to slow down and accomplish far less than I probably would like. But, in all honesty, I feel like it has taken me two years to fully sit with the magic of this gathering and process it to the point of forming words. The community forged in this trip has blossomed into a circle of women who support one another and lift each other up. They even threw us a joint baby shower and the four of us were spoiled with love and presents for our babies. It’s been two years, but these stories and memories are stronger than ever, and I am so looking forward to retreating with these ladies again in November (and hopefully a few more women as well!).