That Time I Drove Five Hours to Attend a Styled Shoot, And It Was Totally Worth It


I was thiiiiis close to buying a last-minute ticket to a total dream photography workshop. In Virginia. With Katelyn James—an incredible and nationally-recognized wedding photographer, who’s educational resources have already truly shaped my journey as a photographer. I was dying to go!

It wasn’t in the cards, though—at least, not for right now.

Aaand cue the tears. 

I hadn’t really considered attending a workshop prior to this opportunity falling in my lap—and it especially wasn’t on my radar for 2017. But when things didn’t end up coming together for me with regards to the KJ workshop, I found myself hunting for a replacement—because just the act of envisioning myself in attendance made me realize how much I was craving that type of learning experience. It’s funny what a role visualization can play in moving you closer to your goals! *Lesson learned.

When I got word of an upcoming workshop and styled shoot in Gilbert, AZ, I decided it would be completely worth the five hours of travel, the overnight stay, and any other arrangements it’d take to get there. (Including convincing my amazing husband to hold down the fort with our three kids over here, so I could make the trip—he really is the best!). I’m so glad I did–I met some amazing people, and once I got over my Small-Town-Photog-Shoots-in-the-Big-City shock, I came away from the experience with a lot to think about and some really dreamy pictures!

The workshop was hosted by Jenn Sutton Photography, and she was so inviting and personable, right from the start. Jenn and her family live on a hobby farm in Gilbert, and it was the perfect backdrop for the event—a beautiful home inside and out (all that natural light!!), and gorgeous grounds, especially at sunset (wait till you see the wedding pictures!). Jenn had pulled together an amazing lineup of speakers, along with the most talented team of vendors. I swear, I was completely blown away! I think it would have been a first-rate experience regardless of where I came in from, but when I explained to a few others how far I’d traveled to attend, or how uncommon styled shoots and workshops are where I’m from…they were all pretty surprised that there’s just nothing like that in my neck of the woods. I’m not sure anyone really grasped why I’d travel so far to attend something that to them seemed so commonplace–I was told that styled shoots and workshops are almost a weekly occurrence in the Phoenix Valley. What would that be like!

Since the workshop was open to all types of creatives within the wedding industry, not just photographers, the speakers covered a broad range of topics and expertise—from photography basics, breaking into weddings, improving your workflow, growing your social media presence, styling details, and getting your work published. One of my favorite speakers was Stephanie with Life Created—I’d already been following her on Instagram for a while, so I was excited to not only listen to her tips for improving and styling still life shots, but also to visit with her a bit afterwards. Her work is impressive, I love her stye and aesthetic, and she’s a really gracious person, too. 

After the workshop portion of the day, we all had the opportunity to break out into groups and get shooting—and oh, my gosh, there was so. much. to shoot. There were vendors and people and ‘pretty’ literally at every turn! And in all honesty, at first, I didn’t know where to start, or how to get past my ‘hang-out-in-the-background’ nature to push in and get the shot I was going for. It took me a while to find my groove, so now I’m kicking myself for missing big sections of the shoot while I pulled myself together—I completely missed out on detail shots, while I focused instead on shooting the couples! Darn. But I’ve learned from my mistakes, though, and now I know what I plan to do differently next time I get a chance to attend something like this. (Number one on my list–Document the actual workshop. I literally have nothing to share from that half of the day. Oops!!). 

I don’t want to overwhelm you all by sharing everything from this shoot at the same time, so I’m saving the wedding setup and models for another day (and, um, it was gorgeous–don’t miss it!!). Today, though, check out this beautiful couple, their adorable girls, and this super-cute floral truck from The Local Stem. I want someone in New Mexico to own and rent out one of these!! 

A special ‘thank you’ to Jenn Sutton Photography, Sutton Farms, and every vendor and speaker who participated in the AZ Retreat and Workshop Day, for sharing your talents and giving us such a beautiful atmosphere to photograph!

Talented Vendors Involved in this Shoot:

Vendor tags for Photos:
Coordinated by: Photography by Jenn Sutton
Styled by: Material Girls Weddings 
Publishing and Styling Speaker: LifeCreated
Social Media Speaker: Blake Patricia
Photography speakers: Photography by Jenn Sutton and Michelle Praskins Photography
Braid Bar: Jodi Briegel Meiter
Hair and Make-up: Monique Flores
Chairs and table: Native Events
Dress: Brilliant Bridal – Arizona
Cake: sift bakehouse
Table Design: The Confetti Studio
Invitation Suite and Signs:
Wedding arrangements: Lace and a Barn
Lounge: Lace and a Barn
Floral Truck, Wildflower’s and hoops: The local stem
Archway, welcome sign and linens: Material Girls Weddings
Venue: Sutton Farms
Jewelry: Christopher & Myranda Fine Diamonds
Hedge walls: Nolan Haus
Ribbons: Wild One Events


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

photography by erin richins
 kind people are my kinda people