Investing in yourself is scary sometimes—especially when it’s a financial investment that you won’t see immediate returns on.
When it came to booking my spot for Broma Bakery’s Foodtography School retreat I jumped at the chance to learn in-person from one of my favorite food photographers. I cringed a bit after I had made the payment for the retreat, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go.
I remember hearing several different business leaders say that they wish they had spent money on education earlier on in their careers. So much of my personal progress has happened when I put real dollars on the line to further my education and knowledge, so I know there’s something to what they’re saying. and thinking back on all I’ve learned from this experience, I know they’re right. Paying to get in the room with industry leaders was definitely the right move for my career.
Traveling from CT to Tulum was a long day, but I was greeted by so many amazing creatives who quickly became my friends. It was an incredible group–I don’t think I’ve ever bonded with a group of women so quickly! It was especially great to meet the Foodtography School team, who organized and ran the retreat for us. They did a wonderful job of accommodating all of my crazy food restrictions and facilitating an enjoyable, fun environment for us to get to know one another and learn.
We stayed at Papaya Playa Project— a beautiful resort on the beach of Tulum. I was definitely staying in what could be best described as a hut…but I would still recommend it if you’re up to try something new and want to stay on the beach!
Our first night we did a quick cocktail styling and shooting session, and then we went to dinner and talked for hours. The conversations were just so good—it was such a fun mix of personalities and it was fun to be around other food photographers (which isn’t someone I get to do often.)
The second day was my favorite—we biked to multiple locations to get food and work on our shooting. I was especially excited to shoot at The Real Coconut, which is a grain-free restaurant in Tulum that also has a tortilla line in grocery stores. I love their tortillas and went through a year where I ate one every night I was home—they’re that good!
We also shot at Mama Matcha and then got some margaritas and guacamole at Nomade on the beach (which was beautiful!) The one SNAFU was that my bike chain fell off 5 times…. which was a bit of a hassle to deal with on the side of the road in Mexico. But I survived and had a margarita at dinner (although I think they made it virgin when I asked them to make it skinny…) to make it all better.
The next day we did some smoothie bowl styling and shooting and then worked on our editing together. We also had a great conversation about social media, brand deals, and what the landscape is like in the space now. The nerd in me LOVED that so much of our conversations were about business strategy and photography, even when we were sitting by the beach or drinking margaritas.
We went to our last dinner at Habitas which was INCREDIBLE. The chef made me an amazing lineup of Paleo friendly dishes that we’re just as thoughtful and gourmet as everyone else’s meals. I don’t know if I would go back to Papaya Playa if I ever go back to Tulum, but I would DEFINITELY go back to all of the places that we ate—especially Habitas.
Honestly, I was a bit bummed that our dinners were too late in the evening to take pictures–they were so beautiful, it was a shame to miss capturing them Aside from that, it was a really wonderful experience! I loved that I got to be on the trip, grow as a photographer and entrepreneur, and make so many new friends.
And I’m kind of addicted to this retreat thing now. I’ll absolutely be looking for more chances to connect with other photographers and take time away to work on my skills this year. It’s a great way to build your network, refill your creative juices, and grab a tax write off while you’re at it 🙂