Ever wonder what throwing together 4 outdoor super babes with cameras and a bunch of gear, plus one normcore minivan, for ten days in the Utah desert would look like?
Yeah, us too.
It all started when we set out on a journey to “create content” in the most authentic and non-photoshoot way possible, and boy did we learn a few things along the ride. Here are our “Behind The Scenes” tested and approved tips / lessons from the road….
NO. 1: TALK IT OUT.
It’s not always a smooth ride when you’re trying to live that work hard//play hard lifestyle in a group on the road, and we quickly found ourselves in the midst of some deeper conversations around our own habits, positivity and how to work well as a team.
So much of our existence as women in society has lead us to focus on competitive behaviors, especially towards each other, and it was important for us a team to recognize and intentionally discuss how to combat those feelings.
We had to talk about…
– how we truly felt
– what we needed from each other to feel supported
– discussing strategies that build meaningful collaboration + community
The act of vulnerability is tough, no wonder there are entire sections of the bookstore dedicated to achieving it! But what better place and setting than crammed into a van, hiking desert trails in the backcountry and sleeping under the stars in the middle of nowhere with a group of talented ladies to get trying.
On one of our last nights backpacking Kate recommended we try an activity. Each of us had a piece of paper that we wrote 3 things we admired about each person and jumbled the lists together. It was unifying and comforting to hear the affirmations out loud, and pretty fascinating to see so many commonalities in our descriptions of each other. This kind of exercise truly uplifts the group dynamic in a uniquely positive way, when we focus on the good we see we in-turn recognize our own goodness and are inspired to share it even more.
NO. 2: GREAT LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY = DANCING + PINEAPPLE
Now, not all our tips are so heavy and emotionally ground breaking. It turns out, the key to a great lifestyle photo is pretty simple…it’s that people need to actually be having fun. Imagine that?
Our favorite tool to capture the best moment is to tell people to dance. Movement is magic for the lens and it also feels pretty darn good, so we spent a lot of our time dancing around like total kooks. And loving it.
The second part is about achieving that friendly natural smile and we found that by saying the word PINEAPPLE over and over you not only ended it with a pleasantly curved up smile on your face but you started laughing from the absurdity. Take a moment and imagine us out there at Arches National park yelling:
“Pineapple! Pineapple! P I N E A P P L E”
It works, folks.
NO. 3. GET WEIRD. TRY IT.
The idea of normal was something we were all taught as kids. It was about rules and standards, but what happens when those limitations don’t seem to serve you anymore?
The work that each of us freelancers do to make a living is sort of this ultimate rebellion. We have found our own way, making it up as we go and experimenting as much as possible. The rules no longer apply because we have found freedom in those “grey areas”….or more like the vast gradient of color :).
Life is a puzzle, but there’s no right way to put it together. Jumble up the pieces and play!
DO try this at home:
– Bring art with you wherever you go! Get outside the box and discover new ways to solve problems or convey your sensations. Give your brain a refresh and consider a another way to experience a new place. Draw what you see or feel.
– When you get dressed in the morning, imagine the emotion you want to convey. Go with it. Trust your gut. Throw out all the rules your mom told you about color, or shape and patterns. It’s all okay. I promise. You might even have fun ;).
– Take some time to be alone. Finding stillness while outside can be a little scary, but once you’ve found a rhythm out there you’ll start to recognize patterns and details you may have overlooked in a group. Sit with those new discoveries and see what happens.
– Be you. Wherever, whatever and whoever that is. Too much of life is spent curating yourself so let it all hang out, just the way you like it.
NO. 4: MISTAKES HAPPEN.
Physical challenges shape us in ways beyond the flesh. It’s the moments of total exhaustion that reveal what’s underneath. Taking a wrong turn on your hike out of an already long and hot desert backpacking trip can shake you and leave you feeling frustrated or stuck. It’s all about making small agreements with yourself to…just…make…it….to…the…top…of…that…next…hill…
Those moments when you’re challenging your inner voice that says stop are powerful and we definitely faced them at the end of our trip. We made a mistake, but in a way we found something greater. We totally shared in a mutual SUFFERFEST and won. The moment we popped our heads over that last sandy mound and could see cars in the distance was pure joy. With aching hips, dry lips, swollen fingers and a intense craving for any kind of salty snack we found ourselves howling victoriously. We had made it.
(Although, we still had to hitch a ride to the correct parking lot, thanks to some real nice gentlemen we found on the trail)
– Mistakes can offer the best outcome. They allow for challenges you would never have put yourself through, but in the end you’ll find a way through it and feel stronger.
– Pay attention. The desert is a hostile place for a human, and it truly doesn’t care about you and your well being. That is not to say it won’t teach you things. Make sure you’re listening and you’ll be fine. This is the act of being totally present. What a pleasure that can be.
– Push yourself. You’ve got more than you think in that reserve tank called a spirit. Don’t be afraid to test it out here and there.
In the end, I’d say this whole content trip slash adventure was pretty successful.
Ladies, where we going next?