Let me tell you a little about Ashton Kelley. She is a photographer in Baltimore Maryland and she has such a huge heart for this industry. After several years of attending various workshops by some of the leaders in our field, she realized that no matter how amazing the information she was receiving, there was something missing. As appreciative as we all are to those leaders for sharing their knowledge and being willing to give us the tools we need to grow, they aren’t always there and able to cheer us on beyond that last day of that workshop. Ashton wanted to do more. She didn’t just want to provide people with knowledge and inspiration and send them on their way. She wanted people to have an amazing experience and a continuous support system, a team of cheerleaders that were going to continue their support and mentoring beyond the workshop. And so she set out to do something outside the box.
Enter the AKP Retreat. A few years ago she began planning an experience for budding photographers that would not only teach them essentials of business but also provide them all inclusive amenities like lodging and meals. This allowed her attendees to bond with each other as well as her. Little did she know it would become something more and now there is a community of people that are cheering her on the way she is cheering on others. Then her dreams grew even more and she set out to make her workshop a traveling one, enabling people from all over to join in on the fun! And that brings us to the AKP Sunny Retreat! Ashton put together an absolutely wonderful experience for her attendees (some veterans and some new to the AKP workshop) in the Outerbanks North Carolina. She hosted everyone in a stunning beachfront cottage, brought along an incredibly talented chef that crafted the most amazing meals breakfast, lunch and even dinner, and had a squad of people that worked tirelessly to make sure everything was perfect. She even managed to pull of a real wedding and NOT just a styled shoot! (Though, there was one of those too!)
When she asked me last summer if I would be willing to be a guest speaker and share with her attendees my experience of relocating, rebranding, and rebuilding my business basically from scratch, I was absolutely thrilled. But it wasn’t until that weekend in March had come and gone that I realized what an honor it had really been! She allowed me to do something that I had toyed with in my mind for a long time in my last 8 years of business but was too afraid to try. And though speaking in front of a group of people scared the pants off me, I was happy I did it. Then later that day I was approached by an attendee who asked me about editing, so I offered to use down time that night to sit with her and go over some of her images from the styled shoot that took place the day before. Around 9:30pm in PJ, I sat down with her and our laptops on a couch downstairs, and the next thing I know I found myself surrounded by 6 girls and we had ourselves an impromptu editing workshop. And that was it. That’s where I felt the most comfortable. I was in a small group giving individual attention where it was needed and I felt completely at ease and warm hearted that I was able to genuinely help people create stronger work for their clients.
I look so forward to doing this more for others in the future! And I’m honored to do it again for Ashton’s Paradis retreat in Key Largo this September, only this time my focus will be on editing and workflow efficiency. For details on how to attend, visit Ashton’s workshop page and follow her on Instagram at @akpretreat to get inside scoop on promotions and more!
Photos courtesy of Lauren C Photography ::official AKP Sunny Retreat Photographer::