This has been a long-time coming, and it’s hard to get it into words, but I want to share with you about 72 hours from last August, and how it is continuing to mold me…Approximately six months ago, I started an intentional journey. I got on a plane in Detroit (I actually missed my first flight by 2 minutes… worst feeling in the world), and headed west. The destination was Divide, Colorado, and I was heading to spend a few days in a large mountain lodge with about 20 strangers.

I didn’t know what to expect.
I didn’t know what to feel or
how to handle myself.
I felt inadequate and nervous, but
I knew,
within the depths of my soul,
that this trip was

I was attending a workshop/retreat with the Parsons. Jeremy + Ashley are an awesomely fun, totally-in-love, photo-taking duo based out of Kansas City, MO. I have followed their work since 2008 and I am continually inspired not only by their photographs, but their life, in general. For the past few years, their work and their approach has taught me and affirmed in me that there is a different way to be a photographer. There’s a different way than just trying to be your own boss or take pretty pictures or have the best equipment or be the hippest + coolest artist. Their approach has taught me that it’s ok to care and to feel. It’s ok to adventure and it’s ok fight for good and for beauty. The past couple years, they’ve been inviting other photographers to journey with them… to discover a better story about themselves and about others.

So on August 7th, 2012, I met up with a handful of strangers at the Colorado Springs airport and hopped in a van to the mountains. This wasn’t a “how-to-shoot-like-us” workshop. This wasn’t a “tips and tricks” seminar or conference. This was a retreat… an experience. A time to get away, to reevaluate ourselves, and to connect with other photographers who have similar dreams and goals. We spent three days laughing, crying and encouraging each other. We read stories together and shared our hopes and our fears. We embraced whimsy, watched the sunrise and wandered through the aspen trees. We drank lots of coffee and ate the best food I have ever eaten. Oh, and we took a lot of pictures, too. :)

I learned a lot about myself in those three days and I gained a greater understanding for WHY I want to spend my time photographing individuals, weddings and life events. But, I’m continuing to figure it out. I’m still writing my own story and striving to be a better author of it every day. I’m grateful to be on this journey and to be able to share this crazy life with wonderful family, friends, and all the amazing individuals who invite ME into THEIR stories to photograph them.

Why am I telling you this? So maybe, you can better understand where I’m coming from as a photographer, as an artist. Or maybe, you can connect with these words and will invite me into your story. Or maybe, you’re a photographer and you feel like the Don’t Give Up Project was created for you. If so, you’re in luck, because my friends, Jer + Ash are traveling to the great lodge one more time this March. And maybe, just maybe, you’re meant to be there.
Jeff + Erica were there to videograph our days together. They put together a really lovely film that you can see by clicking here.The second afternoon, we followed Jeremy + Ashley as they photographed Jayden + CarolineThis is Stephanie. She has a heart of gold.On our last day, we woke up before the sun and ventured outside to photograph our amazing chefs for the week, Dave + Jessi.this is jeremy + ashley. just two people trying to live a good story and share it with others. so thankful for them.

No Comments

  1. This looks absolutely amazing – I would love the chance to do something similar. So freeing and beautiful. I love how you captured it, too.

  2. What to say? Jenn, your words are inspiring. These images are beautiful. I absolutely LOVE your heart and the life that you live. So incredibly blessed to be sharing it with you. Thank you for sharing this. It’s so apparent how intentionally you practice not only your craft, but your love.



  4. stunning. please keep doing what you’re doing friend, it matters. oh how it matter so much.


  6. Love the images. Thank you!!!

  7. Emily Vermaat

    Jen, what an amazing post! I am so happy that you had such an awesome opportunity with them. I also follow their blog and started seeing the “don’t give up” on some other photos I’ve seen and this explains it. May those 72hrs always stay fresh in your mind. Excited to see you at Jessica Nelson’s wedding, I’m in it!

  8. Jen – I finally got to look at this. I love your images. They tell the story so well. So many beautiful people, scenes and moments. I will forever be grateful to have met you and for our time together. I hope we get to reunite someday!

  9. so fun to reminisce through your images :) love the one of Jeremy with the sign floating!

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