The Event That Changed My Life | All You Witness | Photography Retreat

Hi :)

Back in March I went to a photography retreat called All You Witness that was up in Estes Park, Colorado put on by some amazing humans and here is my experience.

Group photo of the attendees of the All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado

I’ve been struggling, especially this past year. Trying to fit into this mold that social media has created for wedding photography, photographers and couples and I have been met with a lot of internal resistance. I saw the post for All You Witness: A Learning Retreat For Truth-Seeking Photographers and instantly felt heard, seen and loved. It was an experience that most definitely changed my photography career and it was so unbelievably freeing.

Background.

Let’s talk a little about wedding photography. When it first started out, couples would get a few photos from their day (if any) and they would usually be traditional portraits. As cameras became more portable and accessible, it evolved into a mix of photojournalism and portraiture and as soon as the internet became popular photographers were able to share their work with a much wider audience. I think this is where the comparison game and the competition with other photographers started. We shifted into making “art” and away from honoring our couples story and their wedding day. 

All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers

The Current Situation.

I think right now we are trying to get back to photojournalism, but instead of it being an honest version of a wedding day and our couples it’s about this mold that we want them to fit into.

“Laugh, but laugh harder”

“Stand close, okay get even closer”

“Grab her face like you are in the notebook and kiss”

I’ve said these things and so much more to elicit the reaction I wanted out of you all. Without caring about if that was how you showed love to one another. I made your story and your wedding day about me and what works for me. I thought that I’ve been sharing moments and capturing them but I haven’t. And that is such an injustice to you all and your beautiful stories. Scripted and directed moments have taken the place to make sure the image has the “best” light and in turn I am taking you out of the moment and robbing you of so many more.

All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers

 The Retreat.

During the retreat we talked about how much Instagram plays a role into this struggle, not only for us as photographers, but for you all. You are seeing the same things we are and being brainwashed into believing that in order to have a beautiful wedding it has to look like this, you have to show love like this, and you have to do these specific things. Wow, that is the ultimate disservice to you. I feel like couples are so stressed out planning a wedding because they are trying to plan a wedding that fits this crazy “perfect” idea instead of doing what they truly want to do. 

From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry for my ego. I misrepresented your story and your wedding day by turning it into what I thought it should look like and what I thought it should be without actually asking you what mattered. I asked you to do ridiculous things for reactions that I wanted when you already know how to show love. You have been showing love and creating memories decades before me and you will continue to do so decades after me. 

All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado

What’s Next.

What does the future look like? Freedom. Freedom to document your story and love exactly as it happens. Permission to do whatever the hell you want to do on your wedding day. And I will be there, fully present with my eyes open and my camera to my face, so I can photograph the beautiful moments on your wedding day that will serve as the tangible proof of your memories.

You are enough. Your story is enough and I am honored that you trust me with these memories. 

All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado

In Closing.


If you have made it this far, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to the amazing team at All You Witness: Ash, Jeremy, Nate, Jaclyn, Wyn, the kiddos, the support team, the beautiful land and space. You have given me the reality check I needed and also given me the words to express what I’ve been longing to do. You are changing the wedding industry and changing lives. To the attendees, my small group and my roomies, thank you for being so vulnerable, accepting and so damn awesome.

All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado
All You Witness Photography Retreat for Documentary and Photojournalism Wedding Photographers in Estes Park, Colorado

All photos were taken by various attendees with disposable cameras and developed by Indie Film Lab.