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My Forest + Falls Experience (& Three Ah-Ha Moments I'll Never Forget)

Towards the end of April, I decided that I needed to venture into the forest with 150 photographers from all over the world. There are times when owning your own business can really exhaust a gal. From answering a constant influx of emails and editing lots of photos while snapping lots of new ones, keeping up with my one-woman show can be daunting. When the to-do list seems to be growing longer than I'm comfortable with, it's time for a fresh perspective.

Enter the Forest + Falls workshop located in Spencer, TN. Over the course of four days, I roughed it in the wilderness with little cell service, drank coffee next to a campfire with familiar strangers and, most importantly, got back to my creative roots.

Along the journey there were several "ah-ha" moments that struck me while being in the middle of nowhere with many (did I say many?) talented photographers. Surrounded by creativity, here's what I learned.

ONE In order to learn new things, you need to put yourself out there. And, in doing so, you might fail. But, hey. That's okay.

{ w h e n } While my photographer friend, Megan Leigh Barnard, and I were sitting around the campfire on the morning of day two.

{ w h y } We had been in conferences the day before and had chatted about tips and tricks we heard while in various sessions. One of the tips that stuck out most was...

Sure, this isn't something I haven't heard before. But it's different when you actually have the time to try new techniques. Over the next couple of days I pushed myself by only shooting film. I brought an insane number of rolls of film and decided that it was my goal to exclusively use my Hasselblad Medium Format Film camera.

Why would I take the time to use film? Doesn't that create more of a risk? Abso-freaking-lutely. When you only have 12 frames per roll, you're a lot more careful with each shot. You take the time to set it up and create something meaningful. (The photos below in Instagram-square style are taken with the film camera.)

TWO It's all about who you know.

{ w h e n }


{ h o w } Removing myself from my usual element allowed me to get in touch with who I am as a person even more so than who I am as a photographer. It was the quirks in each and every person I met that I learned to truly value. This made me stop and reflect about what my quirks were and learn to embrace them.

Shout out to Indie Film Lab owner, Josh Moates (seriously one of the coolest dudes around), the two photographer gurus from Lens Rentals, Joey Miller (super big gear head), and Sarah McAlexander, and, of course, the attendees with whom I learned some amazing tips and tricks.

So get out there and be vulnerable. Be social. Be you.

All photos are taken by Emma Parker Photography.

For more information, please contact Emma at

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