BARKELONA | ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME
I’m not usually one for fate. At least, I wasn’t.
Last October I was sitting at work (my day job) eating my lunch and perusing Facebook (as you do) when a post popped up in a pet photography group that I follow. This post in particular caught my eye – it simply stated ‘something amazing is in the works…’ accompanied by big blue text reading ‘Barkelona, an out-of-this-world pet photography retreat’.
I followed the link and my stomach started doing flips. I’ve been following a few world-renowned pet photographers for a long time, ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their beautiful work, and turning green with envy whenever they announced workshops and photography mentoring over in the US and Australia (places I could only ever dream of visiting). And all of a sudden here they were, three of my absolute favourite pet photographers – Nicole Begley, Charlotte Reeves, and Kaylee Greer – hosting an exclusive photography retreat in an 11th Century mansion in Barcelona, Spain! I think I almost cried with excitement. I immediately texted my other half to inform him of my grand discovery, and spent the rest of my lunch break researching flights and scouring every inch of the Barkelona website for vital information on how and when to apply for a place on the course.
An hour later I was called into a meeting room with the rest of my office for an impromptu conference call. Our department was being closed down. I was being made redundant. We were sent home immediately. I drove home in tears. One second I was bouncing off the walls with excitement, the next my world as I knew it had come crashing down around my ears. I got home, cried some more, and then I remembered Barkelona. I sobbed and sobbed, lamenting over the fact that I’d lost all hope of going on such an incredible adventure. It was at this point that my other half took me by the shoulders, looked me square in the eyes and said to me ‘no matter what happens, no matter what it takes, your are going to Barkelona’.
The next few months were a blur. I got my game face on, found myself a new job, and stayed up until 4am one long November night waiting for the Barkelona applications to open. I submitted my application, and waited. Luckily things move pretty quickly in the world of pet photography, and less than a week later an email dropped into my inbox – I was going to Spain!!!
Fast forward to 21st April 2016. I arrived at Luton airport and scanned the check-in desks, looking for my travel buddy. I’d been chatting online to Bridget Davey for months since we both got accepted onto the retreat, and now we were meeting in person. The beauty of pet photographers is that we tend to have an awful lot in common, so it was no surprise that Bridget and I hit it off straight away, talking all things furry and photography over a coffee. An hour or two later and we were on the plane, our adventure was just beginning…
Now, I could go on forever about the days that followed, but I think I’ve bored you enough (get to the good stuff already!). Let’s just say that those five days were spent with some of the smartest, kindest, funniest and downright incredible people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. 20 people from across the globe joined forces to create an experience like no other with delicious food, glorious sunshine, laughter and tears, adventure, excitement, sharing tonnes of knowledge and expertise, learning from each other and just generally having an amazing time. Not to mention we spent all day every day surrounded by our new-found four-legged friends! Those days will go down in history as one of the best experiences of my life, and I couldn’t me more grateful that I got to share it with those guys.
So without further ado, I give you the highlights from Barkelona – a (truly) out-of-this-world pet photography retreat!
The past year has taught me a lot, and one of those lessons is that most things tend to happen for a reason. Call them wake up calls, karma, fate, or whatever you want, but sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump right in. Life is just too damn short!
Lastly (but probably most importantly) I want to say a huge thank you to the people that made this dream a reality. Nicole Begley, Charlotte Reeves and Kaylee Greer – three of the world’s most talented photographers, and three of the loveliest, kindest, smartest, funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting (seriously, it was like meeting celebrities!). I’m sure I speak for the entire group when I say thank you!
And of course I also have to thank our fantastic chef, Connie, and her little furball Teddy (the shitzhu in the photos!). Also, we had the absolute pleasure of being joined by dog behaviourist Ingrid Ramon, who not only gave us an invaluable insight into canine body language and behaviour, but also brought along her own two pooches, Blat and Etna (Blat is the yellow lab in the photos!).
Thank you so much everybody! And thank you for reading! 😀