My trip to Marfa, Texas with Yeah Field Trip!


Welcome to the next best thing …

When I moved to Seattle almost six years ago, I saw it as the “big city”. A place where I could realize my dreams and really run with them. A few sprints forward and a couple splats on my face, I discovered that photography had been inside me all along. So, I finally picked myself up and started taking my camera more seriously. Little did I know it would take me to a small town called Marfa, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

It’s funny, we think that we have to go to BIG places and do BIG things to realize BIG dreams.

In reality, they live inside of you from birth. Bubbling to the surface in quiet tantrums, hoping to be noticed. Reese Witherspoon, my whiskey in a tea cup goddess, recently said on JVN’s podcast (dying from this combo BTW), “Wherever you go, there you are.”

That little nugget of wisdom has been HAUNTING me ever since it rolled through my ears. I was on a bike ride when I heard it first, and almost fell right off to cry and stare out at the river for a while.

We can’t run away from the gifts that were given to us before we even had breath. They will find us somehow. So, to sit and wait for the right time, the right place, the right amount of money is doing those gifts a major disservice. They already have life; all you have to do is start the conversation.

This brings me to a little recap of a little trip I took to Marfa, Texas last month.

Travel Bug …

I’ve been doing way more traveling this year than I ever thought I would. And it got under my skin. The more I did it, the more I found myself wanting to jump on a plane the next morning after I’ve just come home. I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but traveling was giving me some sort of permission to be free with my creativity. But then there was Marfa.

What is Yeah?

For years, I’ve been following this account on Instagram called “Yeah! Field Trip”.  It’s a retreat/learning conference for photographers that’s in a category all of its own. Picture this: drive to the middle of the desert, meet current photography giants and actually learn something, dance your face off, walk away with tons of new friends who want to support you. Some call it a cult. I call it a solid community. I never had the chance to go, but this year they moved the conference to Marfa, and I knew I just had to make it work.


Marfa was made famous by renowned artist Donald Judd. He bought a discontinued military base from the US government and took over all of its 23 barracks to house his art work. Why did he do this? I dunno exactly. But it’s fantastic. And I’m so glad he did. Marfa has become a pilgrimage for artists of all shapes and sizes. It’s a place that’s been on my bucket list for a while, and jeeze, I’m so glad Yeah gave me a great reason to drive 3 hours through the Texan desert.

Okay, you’re probably thinking, “Karen you started this post talking about not having to go anywhere to chase dreams. And now you’re talking about TEXAS? Where are you going with this, lady?” Alright, I hear you. I’m getting there.

First things first…

My first class at Yeah I sat down for a lecture called, “Slow down Creator” by Paul Octavius. And get this, I almost skipped it. In my arrogant mind, I thought that I knew exactly what this person was going to say: “Stop worrying about social media” … “The numbers don’t count” … To be very honest, I just didn’t want to hear all that again. In lots of ways, for my line of business, social media is incredibly important to get my work in front of more people. And to hear big names with thousands of followers tell me that the numbers don’t matter is hard to take seriously.

Was I wrong …

But then Paul opened his mouth. And I knew I was in the right place. To summarize, he reminded us that personal work is what creates personal style. Personal style is what leads to meaningful and relatable work. Meaningful and relatable work creates amazing opportunities. So, don’t create for the likes, for other people, for trends, for whatever. Create for you.

For the rest of the weekend, I was reminded to follow my own path. And to do so with gumption. Do the things that excite me, because those things are beautiful. Be myself, because the market is flooded with the same stuff all over the place. And why would I want to add to the noise when I have something unique to say?

Thoughts and futures…

I may not live in the big city right now, or ever again. Maybe I won’t even be be a full-time freelancer forever. I will never fit the trends or speak in the hippest of ways. But I am a photographer, and a writer, and a dreamer. And those are my gifts to flex. What a dream!

Lesson learned…

My trip to Marfa was a wander in the desert, but it reminded me to come home safely and let my dreams speak louder in my daily life. I encourage you to chase what excites you and celebrate each moment that creates that “Aha! That’s beautiful!” sensation. And I’ll do the same. Deal? Here’s a quote to encourage us both: “Comparison isn’t relevant if we believe in our originality.”

Portrait of me taken by my good friend Jack. That’s all for now folks. Dream big!



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