I'm only just beginning to invest in myself and my business as a photographer. For a while, it took me a minute to figure out that in order to produce quality work for myself and my clients, I would have to invest in education and mentorships - not just expensive camera equipment. A few months ago, a photographer's retreat from Unraveled Academy was sent to me by a friend. Having only attended one photography retreat before, I was excited to see that this one was going to be located in one of my top photo "bucket list" locations. I've traveled to Palm Springs and Yucca Valley many times over the years, but have never visited Joshua Tree National Park. After convincing a friend to come with me, we quickly began looking for AirBNB spots to enjoy this trip that gave me so much nervous excitement.

Male laughing while girl holds curly hair in vintage white car Joshua Tree

I truly can't describe how beautiful Joshua Tree is. Cactus and cholla trees are everywhere in the desert, Palm Springs and Yucca Valley. After you purchase an entrance fee and start driving into the park, the vast landscape, spaced out plants and rock formations immediately greet you. This park will always hold a special place in my heart after experiencing it in this very unique way for the first time. Our amazing shootout in the desert included two incredibly models and a vintage Thunderbird car that acted as the third person throughout our photoshoot. Led and styled by the talented photographer, Mari Transcoso, we walked up to a scene of over a dozen photographers ready to learn from our amazing instructor - someone I never thought I would be able to meet in person. I've so admired Mari's work over the years since I really relate to her style of photography.

Male looking at girl holding her chin in vintage white car Joshua Tree

Watching Mari Transcoso work was almost as entertaining as taking these photos. We had a few short minutes to grab our photos, work all the angles, and capture the beautiful golden hour desert light before we were asked to step away for the next group of photographers. It became very clear that we were to move fast, not worry about whether we had captured the image, and keep shooting from all angles - something I had never really quite done. I don't know about you, but I tend to obsess over capturing just the right shot. My photography style is all about movement, and extreme candid style photography because I'm all about the emotions and feelings more so than the portrait. Watching Mari work, I learned a completely different perspective of really moving with the couple, getting in close, and getting as many different angled shots as I could in a short period of time.

Girl dancing in desert with partner leaning against vintage white car in desert
Girl dancing in desert with partner leaning against vintage white car at Joshua tree

We really played and took advantage of all the light just before sunset. I remember when I began working as a professional photographer, everyone told me to only shoot in golden hour light. I totally understand why, but isn't that so limiting for your work and portfolio? I only recently discovered how much I love shooting in brighter sunlight, so was really excited to play with that on this trip. I love the shadows cast on the desert floor as they danced and kicked up some desert sand - so epic. The look that one can get with harsh sunlight is so beautiful and editorial - a style I truly admire.

Male leaning over girlfriend with long curly hair sitting on vintage white car
Male wearing denim jacket looking at female leaning against vintage white car in desert

As you can see, our models were amazing and could not have been more beautiful. They really knew how to move and were completely relaxed in front of the camera from the very beginning - a photographer's dream. I really loved capturing images of them on this beautiful vintage Thunderbird - the lines were incredible! This was also the same weekend as the Superbowl that was being held in Los Angeles - go Rams! Not that this photoshoot had anything to do with it, but the vintage car was a funny coincidence after watching that epic Superbowl halftime show.

Male giving girlfriend piggyback ride at sunset in Joshua Tree National Park
Male giving girlfriend piggyback ride at sunset in Joshua Tree National Park
Fractal photo of male giving girlfriend piggyback ride at sunset in Joshua Tree National Park
Male giving girlfriend piggyback ride at sunset in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is a magical, spiritual place - there's no denying it. It seemed like the perfect location and subject matter to be able to play with some new fractal filters that I purchased specifically for this trip - so fun! The light and the simple, but beautiful backdrop of the desert really allows for any couple, or family to shine. Being able to create artwork at this special location with other talented photographers was a dream come true. I simply can't wait to visit again and I hope that I can create here again the future.

Couple facing each other touching noses at Joshua Tree National Park
Closeup of photo of couple walking together and smiling
Couple dancing against each other with desert backdrop at Joshua Tree National Park
Closeup of male wearing gray t-shirt denim jacket leading girl
Photo of couple from behind embracing against vintage white car in desert
Couple holding hands in air sitting in vintage white car Joshua Tree National Park
Couple holding hands in air laying on back of vintage white car Joshua Tree
Couple dancing in desert in front of vintage car headlights
Couple dancing in desert in front of vintage car headlights
Couple sitting facing each other in front of vintage car headlights
Couple laying on desert floor in front of vintage car headlights
Couple sitting in vintage car with Joshua Tree blue sky background
Couple laying on desert floor in front of vintage car headlights
Girl wearing black boots running in front of car headlights in desert