About two years ago now, I bought a new camera. You know how it is when you get a new camera. Look at all these new buttons! Look at the size of the sensor! I will definitely become a photographic legend. Perhaps galleries will want to exhibit my amazing photos. My Instagram is going to be bigger than Beyonce.
Then I actually started taking photos with my new camera, and they were all out of focus.
I mentioned this to Tom, and he offered to come over to my house and take me to the beach. Tom is a professional photographer – very much unlike me.
There, over a couple of hours, Tom showed me how to actually use my new camera. I learned about focal points and aperture and shutter speed. Exposure compensation and framing. He even came home with me, and showed me how to organise and edit my photos in Lightroom.
Okay, I’m definitely still not Beyonce but my photos are generally in focus, well-lit and show what I want them to show.
I started to wonder why our influencer events weren’t more like this.
Why Flea Retreat?
Rather than sitting in a hall listening to someone run through a PowerPoint presentation on using a camera, couldn’t we have an influencer event in the UK where people got to hang out somewhere pretty with a photographer and learn how to use their own cameras better?
Our first Flea Retreat was created just a few months later.
My vision (if it’s not too fancy a word) was to create an influencer event where experts would give influencers hands-on coaching that would help them to improve their content. Alongside photography, we’d give people the opportunity to learn film-making and creative writing skills.
We also wanted a location where people could get outside and feel inspired. A true ‘retreat’ from everyday life and hectic schedules and to-do lists.
Rather than just standing still and taking photographs, we wanted activities that would challenge people, and get them outside their comfort zone. After all, why just take photos of some trees, when you could be riding a mountain bike to the trees, or sailing a canoe along the coastline, with your camera in hand?
We’ve now held two Flea Retreat influencer events and I can honestly say they’ve been some of my very favourite work projects EVER. I’m genuinely excited for our third Retreat, which will be announced in the next couple of weeks.
What Happens at a Flea Retreat?
Our most recent Flea Retreat took place at Tyn Rhyd, a converted barn and farmhouse near Aberystwyth, in Wales.
The schedule was built around three main activities.
First, guests were invited to take part in a range of outdoor activities, designed to spark those creative ideas!
On Friday night there was a sunset canoe ride across a local lake, with spectacular views. On Saturday, eight guests went gorge walking (with some little mini cliff jumps), and later on there was a bushcraft session where people could make their own fires, and learn basic bushcraft skills.
Next, we had workshops. One of my favourite sessions was the “Filming in a Home Kitchen” session, where our video producer had everyone draw a plan of their kitchen, and then show them where to place lights and cameras.
We also had a headshot photography session, where bloggers could take (and pose for) headshot photos with not one but two photographers on hand for guidance.
When the influencers weren’t in workshops or activities, there was a chance to relax and socialise. The Flea Retreat is honestly the sort of influencer event you can go to not knowing ANYONE, and make a bunch of new friends.
We had guests playing games of pool, doing impromptu photo shoots, and just sitting by the fireside, chatting. This year’s event had a huge, 10-person hot tub that was perfect for a spot of relaxation. And of course, we were joined by Jaime from BioSculpture who was on hand with manicures for guests.
Overall, I hope that the Flea Retreat provides people with three things:
- A space away from home and the everyday routine to connect with your creativity
- Some practical skills from experts, that you can apply to your content creation
- The chance to spend quality time with old and new friends, in beautiful surroundings.
Certainly for me, the Retreat has delivered. I had a fabulous time and so I owe the biggest of all thanks to all our coaches, all our guests, and the brilliant team who help put on our events.
How do I Book?
Although the Flea Retreat is very much a part of my day job, I’m proud of it, and I genuinely love planning the events.
I’m so happy that the feedback from our guests is so positive, and that people were prepared to pay (let’s be honest) a lot more than the typical blogger conference ticket price to come to the Retreat.
I hope people who’ve attended the Retreat agree though, that the tickets are great value. You’re paying for beautiful accommodation, professional coaches, high-quality activities and more food and drink than you can shake a stick at. With the added bonus of a coveted Retreat hoodie! What’s not to love?
If you’d like to join us at our upcoming Festive Flea Retreat or our 2020 Spring Retreat, make sure you’re following @tots100 on Twitter – we’ll be announcing details of our next Retreat later this month, and we expect tickets to sell out quickly.