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September 28, 2018



Hey all you Fixer Upper fans! I know you’re reading Waco, Texas and getting excited! But before you scope out pretty pictures of the Barndominium (where we stayed!) and Magnolia Market, I want to tell you the real reason I was in Fixer Upper land…

Where to start?

As a small business owner, I believe that education is never-ending. Every year, I spend time teaching myself new tricks, refining, changing, and adjusting workflows, technique, etc. Owning a photography business has its challenges for sure. I wear a lot of hats; 99% of my job is NOT shooting… it’s emailing, blogging, marketing, driving to venue tours, meeting new vendors, client phone calls, creating photo timelines, answering questions, editing… and then finally, showing up and shooting the event! When you work “alone” for most of the day, it can get lonely, you get in your head about things, and wonder if there’s a better way to do something.

Last year, I was talking with two photographers I had just met (at a photo conference) and we were talking about how we felt like we were missing something… small group, in-depth conversation. That’s when my friend, Laylee, ran with the idea of the Next Level Retreat. A group of people staying in a house for a few days of talking business, self-care, and overall supporting each other with our ideas and dreams…

I started off this year with a lot of transition. I moved out on my own for the first time, I moved to a new city, and during all of that transition, I was having a slow season. A lot of NOs were coming my way and to be completely honest, I was getting in my head, feeling defeated and questioning if this year was going to be the end of it all. Snap out of it, Brett (something I kept telling myself). I knew I was smart, people liked my work, and that this down season was going to turn around, I just needed to put in the work and keep my head above water. When I finally moved to Richmond, I hit the ground running. I set up as many coffee dates and venue tours as I could – connecting with creatives in the area! Then Laylee messaged me about the idea of the retreat and I was like… “I don’t even know what I’m doing this Fall, but I’m IN!” [invest in yourselffffff]

The retreat.

Fast forward to September 10th at at Fixer Upper in Waco, Texas with photographers who traveled from different parts of TX… CA, NC, IN, and VA. There is something magical that happens when you’re in a small group with likeminded, passionate, dream chasing people. I learned a lot from everyone. I’m normally a very chatty person, but I found myself listening more. I listened to others and their “issues” and learned about things I hadn’t really thought about before. It was nice to be in a space where everyone was sharing their hopes, dreams, faults, struggles – because we were all able to relate and offer support. There was something special about having people from all different areas and markets because there were things other people were doing in their workflows that I hadn’t heard about before or tried. I realized that there were certain things I’ve been doing solely because it was the first (and only) way I learned to do it. Lightbulbs were going off left and right – different ways to structure pricing, different thoughts on workflows… it was like the finale of a firework show going off in my head and I couldn’t write things down fast enough. It’s always amazing to me how you can hear “the same thing” a million ways but it CLICKS when you’re ready to focus on it.

We spent time in this beautiful space connecting – brainstorming – growing!

Okay, enough of me spilling out my entire heart on the matter… here are some more behind the scenes of the special week in Waco, Texas staying at the Barndominium (Fixer Upper Fans!), visiting Magnolia Market, and spending time with some amazing people!

Of COURSE I slept in the room with the boxwood wreath… duh.

We heard from some photographers and also took some time for self-care! Jessica of Simply Jessica Marie taught us how to paint hydrangeas! I LOVED it! It was so relaxing and reminded me that you can’t have everything you want in an instance.


Thank you Sarah for fueling us with mimosas…
[3 photos above by Quianna Marie Photography] Above was our reference picture – below is my attempt!

Of course we swapped more headshots… I take headshots very seriously.We also visited a wedding venue called Old Bethany where Sarah of Sarah Ann Designs helped us with stationery styling! We also traded headshots with each other and ate dinner at some beautifully styled tables! Obviously this retreat was made for Bret(t)s. Bret and his wife Brandie are a husband and wife team from Indiana!! He got the nickname “Man Bret” the first day. Sorry, I had too Man Bret.I’m thankful to be a part of a creative community. I’ll always remain someone who is here to help, motivate, encourage others because we are better together than we are sitting in our offices behind screens, alone. These last few years of hard work, creating and pursuing a dream job aren’t stopping here. My fire has been refueled, my thoughts are in a better place, and I’m ready to tackle all of these “firework ideas” for a better 2019 and beyond – let’s gooooooooooo! Whatever career path you’re in, keep dreaming, keep putting in the work, not every hour is glamorous but remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day!!

  1. Dorothy Ramsey says:

    Oh my Brett, that was so well written! I loved experiencing
    this Next Level Retreat through your eyes. You are so
    wise for one so young. You really “get” what’s important in
    life and business. I am in awe!

  2. Dorothy Ramsey says:

    I absolutely LOVED this post! I still keep thinking you also have a career in writing ahead of you!

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