About Us

About The Retreats

I have always been a very independent, adventurous and social person. I went on my very first international trip, without my family or friends, when I was just 16 years old to help researchers in Belize study dolphins and the coral reefs. I came home with 10 new friends that I STILL keep in touch with. From there it was Mexico and Washington DC working with Habitat for Humanity and finally attending University 1200 miles away from home. I also was always a very hands on learner, excelling in the sciences and arts especially. I have always retained the most amount of knowledge from having a very personal, physical connection with the material and have found that I am far from being alone.

I only taught about a dozen workshops before deciding that mentoring students one on one is a much more rewarding and successful experience and since then have not given another group class. When Jenna and I began talking about teaching together, I really took the time to think about my most favorite memories both socially and educationally and that is how THE RETREAT was born. It is based around the idea of summer camp, everyone spending 24hrs a day, for 3 days, under one roof.

Everyone is equal. Most are strangers. It is a safe place for learning, growth and creating new friendships. No questions or topics are off limits and each and every person matters.

The information shared is NOT to sell you on more gear or gadgets, more workshops or mentoring. The topics are deep, in depth and designed to give you as much knowledge as possible so you can begin to apply what you’ve learned quickly and successfully.

By having a retreat, where everyone in under the same roof, there is flexibility to move off topic if that is where the group wants to go and spend more time on one lesson over another depending one what the group needs as a whole.

Most importantly we want our students to know that we honestly, truly care about this type of work. We’ve dedicated our entire lives to a passion we feel very strongly about. And we are constantly students ourselves, always striving to become better photographer tomorrow than we were today. We also hope to connect personally with each person involved, developing lasting friendships based on a common love of story telling.

~Kirsten

Kirsten Bethmann

Kirsten

Website / Instagram / Facebook

Kirsten is a family photojournalist based in Denver, Colorado however her work brings her all over the world, from New Zealand to Dubai, Brazil to Canada, Italy to Hawaii. Although she has been shooting and teaching for over a decade, it was her 3 day Creative Live class that really brought her approach to documentary family photography to the forefront as a desirable alternative to the traditional family portrait. Her Day In The Life sessions are completely raw, 24hrs of coverage of a single family usually producing incredibly funny and touching images depicting real life as a kid as well as a parent. She has been mentoring photographers Internationally not only within her genre of photography, but a coach guiding them to find their own unique voice by embracing their personal experiences and letting them reflect that history through their photographs. Kirsten’s talks are known to make you laugh one minute and tear up the next, inspiring her listeners to go out and make new work to be proud of. She is most excited for the biggest job she’ll be undertaking in the beginning of May, that of Mommy with the arrival of her first baby with husband Greg.

Jenna Shouldice

Jenna

Website / Instagram / Facebook

I grew up just outside of Toronto, spending my winters in the city and summers in cottage country. After finishing my degree in psychology, I promptly moved out west where I would go to school again, this time for photography. On my third day in Victoria I met the handsome man who would later become my husband. Nine years later we had a beautiful little girl! I have a big love for people, and a strong draw towards women’s issues. To further my birth related work I trained as a Doula in 2011 and spend a lot of time in the birthing community. Together with my husband, we run a successful documentary wedding and family photography business that takes us all over. My love of the family unit is apparent in my shooting and teaching style alike, and I love to share my appreciation and approach with others.

tristan shouldice

Tristan

Instagram

Greg and Tristan are great photographers in their own right, and are there for you at our retreats for extra support. But that’s pretty much irrelevant. More importantly they are the team that prepares all the meals and hauls your luggage up three flights of stairs. They serve you coffee in the morning and wine as soon as it’s noon. They have also been known to make multiple runs to the store to restock the chocolate supply.