What's a photographer to do?
Thankfully, Wendy thought ahead. She invited TWO photographers! Me and Jenni Keiter of Avodah Images. So, last year, while the writers stayed home and wrote all day, Jenni and I were free to travel about and play all day.
Wendy had even arranged some learning opportunities for the two of us. One day we headed out to Ciego Vineyards with local photographer/videographer Bill Groody - who taught us a few video skills. Another day we had lunch with local artist Carolyn Marchetti and her husband Tony. Carolyn welcomed us into her home, gave us a tour of her studio, and introduced us to the ins and outs of art exhibits. We also stopped by to see a few of the quilts on the travel "quilt" show Wendy had mapped out for us to photograph.
To say Jenni and I had fun is an understatement!
We quickly discovered we were very similar in many ways and enjoyed each other's company immensely. Jenni specializes in landscape photography. I specialize in portrait work. The two of us shared ideas, tips, and knowledge together non-stop during the entire Retreat.
And we continue to do so.
Most importantly, Jenni and I were able to be ourselves and celebrate what makes each of us see the world so differently. We get to be who God created us to be in the safety of our new friendship.
Jenni has an undeniable sense of adventure! Any woman that feels free enough to go on an all day hiking trip in the back-country by herself is a woman to be admired. And, Jenni has done it several times! I'm afraid to walk to the restroom in a campsite by myself at night, and she's out backpacking in the wilderness by herself. (I could learn something from her!)
Even more impressive is her family's year long adventure (happening right now) that is highlighted on their hilarious and inspiring family blog DareYou2Move.
In a nut-shell, Jenni and her husband Kevin sold their home in Florida last winter in order to pursue a life-long dream with their three children. They purchased an RV (a.k.a. The Bob T) and are traveling the United States and Canada for a year long adventure of our nation's best National Parks. I can't think of a better way to teach your children geography and survival skills. Without a doubt their three children are the best educated (albeit laid-back) home-schooled children this year!
You can read about their adventures (and see Jenni's superb photography skills) on their blog. I personally make mental post-it notes while reading their blog to mark all the parks I want to visit with my own family some day.
With said trip in the works, we were all disappointed to hear that Jenni would not be able to join us for our Creative Retreat this summer. What was I going to do all week? My photography buddy wasn't going to be there to stop on the side of the road to take random barn pictures with me anymore. I was going to be flying solo! Yikes!
I quickly decided to make lemonade out of the lemons Jenni was tossing at us and came up with the creative project I've been posting about these past several weeks. (A big thanks to Brooke Shaden for the idea.) I desperately needed a challenge that would stretch me artistically in new and exciting ways. And this project did just that.
I wasn't disappointed! It was entirely worth all the planning and hard work.
Especially since Jenni decided to surprised us!
She decided to join us at the lake house after all. She rented a car, drove 6 hours from their current location and even picked Bethany and I up at the airport. Thanks, girl!
Wendy, Bethany and I knew a little ahead of time that Jenni was planning to come (since she would have to know our travel plans to meet up with us at the airport). However, she made us pinkie-swear not to tell Kelli (who was her neighbor back in Florida before they moved into the Bob T).
Boy was Kelli surprised! Check out her reaction (and Jenni's take on our time together) here.
As much as I was needing artistic revival and inspiration, she was needing quality girl time.
So, this year looked a little different. There were lots of make-overs and swapping of dresses. Lots of girl time and laughing. Lots of time to be glamorous and celebrate our femininity.
Lots of photo shoots!
And, even though Jenni got in on my creative assignment a little late in the game, she did her homework in no time flat.
Here are her five words:
Color: Lime Green
Wardrobe: Fresh and Clean
Theme: Simple and Honest
Jenni also wrote in her email to me that she'd like to work the adventure girl angle if at all possible. She clarified, "Not the 'bungee jumping adrenaline junkie' just more of a 'prefers dune buggies over minivans' kind of thing."
Sorry about the minivan comment, Kelli. Jenni's words. Not mine!
I think the only thing missing is the color lime green. I'm going out on a limb and saying that the reen leaves count!
Here's my beautiful friend, Jenni, right after Bethany finished her make-up. After six months in an RV with a family of 5, I'd say this is JUST what Jenni needed. A little pampering!
Wendy's father's pool was the perfect setting for some adventurous and fun images for Jenni's session.
Take a look at the ledge of the pool at the bottom of that last picture. You won't fully appreciate Jenni's stunts in the next few images until you wrap your brain around just how high up we were - and what a drop it is off that ledge if Jenni were to fall.
Getting her groove on...
Channeling her inner Gymnast...
Taking in the view..
While Jenni was walking the edge of the pool, I was doing the same - only with a bit more fear. All the while I was praying I wouldn't drop the camera in the pool or over the edge - mentally thanking myself for investing in quality insurance for all my gear.
I wonder if Hill & Usher covers bodily injury from falling off a pool edge...
Pool side fun checked off the list, it was time for Jenni to get her glam on and head down to the dock for Wendi's session (coming soon) and some group pics (posted earlier here).
A hot lady, a sparkly dress, gorgeous earrings...and a tripod. Kevin's a lucky man!
And she puts that tripod to good use. I just adore Jenni's landscape photography. Take a look:
Here she is on a solo hike.
You can view Jenni's full portfolio on her website HERE.
I've recently given myself another challenge. My goal is to take a more artistic approach with my images. I'm starting with just one image per session. With a little online self-tutoring, I taught myself how to use texture overlays. It's my first step in this journey toward creating photographic artwork. My first attempt was titled Hope Rises. This was for Kelli's concept image in my last blog post.
Here's my attempt for Jenni's image:
Until next year, my friend! Love you! I look forward to reading about all your exciting RV adventures yet to come! And give Kevin a big hug from all of us for sending you to Clear Lake for the week to hang with us!
And, I welcome all of you to read along with me...
Enjoy life! Live it to the fullest!