The Retreat – the BEST blogging event!
I don’t tend to write much about blogging events as I am not sure they are of much interest to my non-blogging readers. However, you know when you have experienced something so good that you want to tell everyone about it? Well, that is exactly how I felt about this weekend when I attended The Retreat – organised by the amazing Sally Whittle of Flea Ents.The Retreat was held at the gorgeous Croydon Hall, in Somerset. It was for just 50 bloggers and social media influencers, with the aim to improve their content creation skills, be this writing, photography or film-making.
There were lots of decisions to make about the workshops that I wanted to attend. In all honesty, I struggled to choose and would have loved to have attended more. I opted for more photography-based ones as I really do want to improve my camera skills. In these sessions I looked at product photography with Derek Lomas, portrait photography with Sarah Mason Photography and a whole range of different situations with Tom Arber. This was one of the real selling points of The Retreat for me – sessions run by industry professionals. They all really knew their stuff and were able to share their tips and tricks of the trade with us.
The sessions I attended with Tom were probably my favourites. I looked at taking photos during “The Golden Hour” and in low light. We did a beach walk on Porlock beach and I had a small group feedback session. I actually regret not getting up at 5.30am for the Sunrise Photography session! Tom was absolutely amazing. He was so helpful and patient and never made me feel like the complete amateur with a camera that I am. I spent quite a bit of time sat on beach taking photos of the same thing, changing the aperture and shutter speed on my camera, or trying a different angle and looking at the effect of the light. It gave me a much greater understanding of my camera and the effect of light on your photos. In our small group session (where there was just myself and Monika) I became really inspired by composition. As a result, I have been studying the photographic work of Eric Kim, Ming Thein and Chris Floyd. I have even found myself looking at the cinematography of films and considering what it is that makes a shot work.
The workshops were just a small part of the weekend. I met so many genuinely lovely people this weekend. Some of them I already knew, like local bloggers Louise and Emma who kept me company on the journey and my roomie Katy. I have known Katy now for years – soon after I started blogging, and it was so nice to be able to spend some time together. It was also so lovely to see Mel who is very easy to get along with and so funny. I met Donna who runs one of the blogging groups on Facebook for the first time. It takes a special kind of person to run a group like this, so I know how hard-working and organised she must be, she was also a very genuine and friendly person and I think I even more now! Everyone I chatted to was so welcoming and I can’t mention everyone here, however I will say to any of you who love food to check out Kitchen Sanctuary – Nicky and Chris talked to me about the food they make on their blog on the first evening and I will definitely be trying some of their recipes. Thank you to Sally, Sarah, Lindy and the rest of the team for putting together such an amazing event, and a special thank you to Claire who had to squeeze up with me on the back seat of the minibus to and from the beach!
I had a truly amazing weekend. I left feeling really happy about my place in the blogging world and really inspired to use my camera more and to continue learning about photography. I do hope Sally decides to run The Retreat again – I would love to attend the sessions I couldn’t do this time around, learn more and hang out in some beautiful surrounding with some like-minded people.