I bought a photo retreat.

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You guys.

I did a thing.

This past May, I heard the news along with all of you, that Inspire Photo Retreats was no more.

And I was sad, dude.

Because Inspire is the sole reason why I am even a photographer to begin with. It is why I currently have such a delightful, honest and generally ridiculous group of close friends. It is why I have traveled the world, met so many wonderful people and have experienced so many wonderful things.

Inspire is glittery, sparkly, colorful awesomesauce.

In 2012/13, I was hopelessly lost when it came to how to run a photography business (or any small business, really. I never meant to become a full-time wedding photographer, but somehow, after shooting one as a gift for a friend, I booked over 20 weddings the very next year. And I had no clue what I was doing!
It was overwhelming, I made mistakes (boy, did I ever!) and I loved every damn second of it.

I was hooked on a feeling. A feeling of taking pretty photos while dancing at other people’s weddings and squirreling away some money while I was at it. This ‘job’ was pretty dang fabulous,

But I needed help. Guidance. A plan to make this career a feasible one.
And then a friend suggested we both attend Inspire Photo Retreats for the first time, a 3-day conference about all things photography, where I would know no one but three people, kind of.
So we did.
And three days after walking into both the worst and best hotel ever, I left with a notebook full of plans, ideas, quotes, do’s and don’ts. I left with a head full of wild thoughts (riri!), and a heart full of new friends.
I left with a group of people that had my back. So like-minded, and so vastly different all at once.

My first Inspire:
it was life-changing! 

I remember the drive home, both of us talking over one another, full of excitement; it was the most amazing feeling I had ever experienced, when it comes to anything business-, or community-related.
I loved it so much, that I needed to be a part of it. I wanted to share whatever tiny bit of knowledge I had, because, creativity is contagious. Inspiration is contagious. So pass it on.
I had three consecutively wonderful experiences teaching and speaking at Inspire. I met so many kickass people. I learned so much useful stuff.

I didn’t make it to this past retreat, because I chose the warm Aruban weather over what is generally an epic and savage Nor’easter synonymous with whenever Inspire takes place.
Of course, there wasn’t one the one time I don’t attend.
But, I figured I’d be there next year for sure.

So, when the news broke that Mark, Enna and Eric had decided to pursue new paths (I mean, Enna makes chocolate for a living…who wouldn’t fully commit to that little slice of heaven?) my first thought was…”wait, other photographers don’t get to experience that same feeling of ‘YES! I GET IT NOW! LET’S DO THIS SH*T!’ like I did after my first retreat in 2013?! And my second retreat in 2014, and my third…and fourth…”


Kate McElwee IPR Tue 042.jpg

I sat in bed that night, just pondering stuff. And for a few nights in the weeks that followed. And then I texted Eric. “Dude. Let me take over Inspire.”

So I did.
And here we are 🙂

And you guys, I am so freaking STOKED to put this together for you, because it is going to be amazeballs.

It is going to be that recharge you need right before the season starts, when your battery is at two percent and you just need to plug your charger into a wall of friendly faces (I can hear Robert Norman going, ‘oh my’ right now) and reinvigorate, be around your peeps.

It is going to be so full of so many different talks, classes, hands-on goodness, intensive workshops, aimed at a whole host of different facets of running a photography business. So you can find that one nugget of wisdom which will fuel your drive and passion all the way to 1.21 gigawatts of awesomeness.

It is going to be all about the dancing. The laughing. The late night shenanigans. More dancing. Crazy fun entertainment. Those moments to unwind after a day of working towards a better, more fulfilling and successful career, to let loose, to shake it all off, to let your freak flag fly, to party it up with your tribe of fellow light-chasers.

Where else can you jam out to some Macklemore karaoke and have all of your peeps be your back-up dancers?↓↓↓

I am really, really so very incredibly excited!

Our host venue couldn’t be more perfect. It is like Kellerman’s: the 2017 edition. (if you don’t get the reference…nobody puts Baby in the corner!) Cozy, but spacious, comfortable, but fancy, woodsy, but with great wifi. 😉
The speaker and instructor lineup is going to be epic, covering all things small business, photography, branding, social media, marketing, technical, and emotional. These folks are so ready to pour their hearts and minds out for you, I am already sad I can’t sit in on every single one of their classes.
The sponsors and partners. The Creative Lounge. The keynote speakers. The late night Inspire-attendees-only snack menu! All of it will be incredible.

And of course, you guys.
The whole reason Inspire is what it is, is because of all of you, who have attended in the past, who are excited to attend in the future. This community of ours, it is something really priceless. A certain hobbit would call it ‘precious’, even.
And I want to keep that feeling around for as long as possible, to foster it, grow it and make it as kickass as we can.

So, there will be some big changes for sure, a lot of new and exciting things I cannot wait to share with you all. This baby is going to get knocked out of the park, together with this boss team of stellar individuals to help me make the ninth edition of Inspire Photo Retreats the very best one yet. The parties (yes, plural!), the food, the colors, the vibe, the pretty, the remarkable…it is all going to knock your rainbow-colored knee-socks off!

But at its core, Inspire won’t ever change. It will always be about community over competition. About sharing what you know, your successes, your failures. About creating a safe space for everyone to be themselves, to be honest, accepting, without being afraid of being judged. And it will always be about being absolutely ridiculous, goofy, and unequivocally, unapologetically you. About not giving a damn what everyone around you thinks, because everyone around you feels the exact same way.

I cannot wait to see you all, to catch up with everyone, to have you experience all that we have planned. Definitely keep an eye on our social media, because we are taking you all on this journey with us as we put #Inspire2018 together for you!

So, head on over and sign up, because this one is going to be full before you know it, with a much more intimate setting, I’m confident we’ll pack this hotel chock full of crazy fun photographers in no time!

And you really should come, because it is going to be legen-…wait for it…-dary!

You can sign up right HERE and read up all about INSPIRE HERE!


PS. if this is TL;DR, check out this ridiculous video:

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