Monday, November 21, 2011

Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Camp Shutter Sisters, a gathering of 70+ women all bonded by a passion for photography. Most had formed previous relationships through the website of Shutter Sisters, and participation in online photography classes led by the talented Tracey Clark...and were now finally meeting in person for a photography inspired extravaganza. Women from different corners of the world, from every part of the US, Canada, England, and beyond, everyone of different ages, with different hairstyles, accents, camera gear all united in one place. To say it felt surreal is an understatement!
Spanning over 3 days, it was hard to believe I wasn't dreaming. Starting with recognizing familiar faces and names of women who I had formed special online friendships with over the past few years. Moving on to admiring the homey little details so carefully placed around us from candles to blankets to vintage cameras, homemade banners and signs, welcome gifts and surprises. And every moment during those 3 days there was a story to be shared, a conversation to be had, a new friend to meet, a camera technique to learn, a bond of sisterhood to be formed. 

It sounds a little cheesy but being the youngest camper in attendance, I felt like a baby bird being nudged from the nest. I often need a little encouragement and this experience, these women, were just the push I needed. The level of acceptance and encouragement I felt was through the roof with everyone making me feel like the sky is the limit for both my photography and my life. You see, although I feel very mature for my age given my life experiences, I often lack a certain confidence. After too many occurrences of being stopped dead in my tracks when I am on a roll due to some type of health complication, I often face a bit of trepidation to step outside my comfort zone. But since I have been home I feel something changed within me...for good.
After being dragged home against my will, I wrote down every last detail that I never want to forget, as well as all the dreams and ideas that were sparked. It has taken me this long to share my experiences because every time I tried, nothing I said or wrote seemed to accurately depict the feeling of sisterhood we all shared. The feeling of lifelong friendships being formed. The feeling that we were all meant to be there at that time. The feeling that we were all a part of something bigger than us. The feeling that anything was possible, that we could go out and follow our dreams and give ourselves permission to do so. The feeling that we could wish for anything, and leave behind our fears. It was like we were in a little bubble of love and support, filled with women all so different yet so the same. 
That being said, let me give you a little glimpse into those few days...

Lindsey and I made the best of the 7 hour drive, filled with camp excitement, life stories, and photography talk.
We finally arrived at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove... "A Refuge by the Sea."

We were welcomed in style with a beautiful care package...
...and with fun, colorful decorations.
We roamed the grounds in the early mornings...
...and explored late at night.
We had late night visitors...
...and beautiful early morning light.
Warm cups, full plates, and plenty of treats were enjoyed in the upscale camp style 'mess hall'.
We were surrounded by inspirational words and sayings...
...and heard wonderful quotes and poems.
We printed our photos and inspired each other...
...and acted silly and shared laughs together.
With rustic lodging, campfires and s'mores, sure did have that cozy camp vibe.
We explored the beach...
...even with the heavy fog.

We played with the enchanting Lens Baby...
and admired it's dreamy feel.

We took workshops with the masters about light, self portraits, polaroids, editing software...
 ...finding your niche, iphoneography, composition, macro, & more.
 I could fill an entire post just with photos of my new friends!
Can't wait for next year!


  1. Oh Chelsea, this post almost made me tear up - it's so full of life and love, and such gorgeous images! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. chills, lady. it was well worth the wait. miss you lots & can't wait to see you again soon! xoxo

  3. I'm so honored that I got to be one of the lucky ladies that shared this experience along with you. It's already been a month, but I go back in time everyday, rekindling that wonderful feeling of sisterhood that came alive in all of us. You should have all the confidence in the world in your art, and know that we cherish you. P.S. That starry night shot is amazing! xoxo

  4. This is lovely Chels. I haven't been able to write about my Camp experience but like you I carry it with me every day. So happy to have shared it with you.

  5. This is just wonderful, Chelsea! You did an amazing job describing what we all felt to be so indescribable. I still have a hard time telling people what we all experienced -- and it's something no one who wasn't there can understand. So happy to have met you and hope to see you at camp next year. Thanks for the wonderful memories your blog post brought back. Loved reading it!

  6. This is just beautiful Chelsea! Gorgeous images and beautiful sentiments! What an amazing experience it was and you captured it so well. Miss you sweet Chelsea...

  7. How perfectly you express the wonder of camp. I'm so glad you persevered and found just the right words. And your images are out of this world beautiful! Thank you!


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