I wasn't sure how much I was going to want to be blogging while we were on our travels and to be honest.. the past three weeks have gone past both incredibly quickly and super slow all at the same time.. so I thought I better write something down as I know I'm likely to forget some stuff if I don't.  The hard thing is is that I'm actually documenting quite a bit of our trip on various film camera which means getting the images back is a slightly slower process.. so forgive me if I write about stuff and then bombard you with some images a couple of weeks later.. :)

So I'm going to try and go back to the beginning... aka the run up to leaving the country for six months.  We knew it was going to be hectic but I don't think either of us realised just how much.  That last week we definitely packed in as much as we physically (and emotionally) could which included 3 shoots all in different parts of the country and a London wedding.. (and I was determined to finish all the editing before we got on that flight).  We also had to hand in all our year's accounts to our accountant (which meant, of course doing it all from scratch) and suddenly you realise you want to see people and they want to see you before you head off.  We somehow managed to tick off everything on our to do list, cuddled and kissed Maximo a gizillion times (I balled it)..(don't worry he's staying with my Mamma) and put pretty much everything we owned in to two suitcases and two camera cases and got on our flight to New Zealand. 

If you regularly read the blog then you might know that me and Pete came to New Zealand last year to speak at A Bit More Soul and we literally couldn't believe it when Rachael asked us if we'd like to come back and speak again at the next one.  We ADORE this retreat.  It's taught us so much and was an integral part of why we decided to put the wheels in motion last year and plan to down tools (well, sell our house) and go travelling.  The space it gives, the courage it stirs, the connections we've made.. it's truly the most inspiring environment with just a really genuine and honest group of peeps.  Me and Pete constantly bang on about how similar A Bit More Soul is to Welcome Home... and it's true.. it just seems to attract good eggs... good, creative, encouraging, funny, open, brave, inquisitive, kind folk.. and this year was no exception.  Now, last year I was so busy being ridiculously nervous about the whole speaking malarky that I came home and was kinda disappointed that I hadn't taken more photos.. so I promised myself that I would take more this year.. well.. I totally failed.  And you know why?  BECAUSE I WAS HAVING WAY TOO MUCH FUN.  I was just totally engrossed.  Listening to the other speakers.. chatting with the attendees.. talking a walk on the beach.. it was bloody ace and just too good to miss a second.  SO here's a few photos over the 3 days..

I've also had a few people on instagram or fb seeing some of our photos and asking what A Bit More Soul actually is.. as all they see is us saying how incredible everything and everyone is all the time.. ;)  So I thought I'd try and explain it a little bit....

A Bit More Soul is a 3 and a half day retreat.. mainly for photographers (but any creative would totally fit).  There's 8 different speakers spread out over the 3 days (which me and Pete are one of) with a couple of other activities in-between (this year we all headed down to the beach and I totally saw a seal sunbathing).  We all eat together.. we shoot, talk, dance and just soak up some really inspirational, thought provoking stuff from each other.  But the best thing about it is that we see everyone just being their honest selves.  We all probably arrive at these things.. or anything for that matter with a preconception of what is expected from us.. how we should behave.. what we can't admit to.. what we have to be good at.  A Bit More Soul just ignores all that bullshit and just lets everyone be them.. and chest bumps them for it.  And me and Pete are ALL over that.  Just a little side note.. the one thing we definitely did notice this year was the huge spike in the amount of foul language coming from the attendees having spent just a small amount of time with us foul-mouthed Brits.

Once again every talk was super inspiring and although none of us speakers check in with each other on what each of us are going to talk about.. each talk is so individual but at the same time manages to carry common threads.. consistently confirming and reaffirming.  This year our speaker family grew a little and we also had a couple of non-photographers too.. so we wanted to personally say a huge thank you to Joel McKerrow (and his wife Heidi and his awesome kid Aidan), Si and Sophie from Bayly & Moore, Fiona Anderson, Jake Thomas, Danelle Bohane, David from One Girl and Oli Sansom for being the most wonderful friends and constantly keeping us inspired and creative and hungry and grateful and connected.. :)

We also need to mention the awesome Jase Blair and Mike Hill for being bloody incredible all week and possibly the biggest thank you is to Rachael Brown and Emily Adamson for imagining and creating and managing the whole god damn thing.  What a bloody awesome achievement ladies.

Also a huge thank you to all the attendees that came and joined us.. the night at the Courtyard Cafe, sharing all our connection stories was one of our absolute highlights.. it was just really lovely to get to know all of you.. (and now we get to call in for a cuppa when we drive past all your houses)..

The other big thing for me and Pete this time around was that we spoke together.  As Emma and Pete.. not Emma Case Photography.  This was our first joint talk and it felt like quite a milestone on where and how we want our stuff to go from here.  It was funny and scary and SO wonderful all at the same time and watching Pete tell his story about images he has taken makes me one very, very, very proud wife.

Over the whole week Rachael gave us the opportunity to do a couple shoot in front of the group. Cue major butterflies.  Cue in my head, trying to give myself tons of reasons why I didn't need to get up in front of the group and shoot.  And we nearly didn't.  But the last morning we all sat in small groups and just chatted about what we had got from the week and a couple of the attendees were talking about how they struggle with getting honest emotion from their couples.. soooo.. we grabbed Joel and Heidi and took them in to the barn to take their photo... :) These things always scare me to death beforehand but I'm ALWAYS so bloody happy that I actually do it.  I LOVED the shoot.. I LOVED shooting Joel and Heidi.. and I'm really glad that we got to give them some photos of each other AND a cute 15 minutes together..

How bloody ace are these two?

A Bit More Soul makes me realise just how wonderfully connected we all are.. wherever in the world we might call home.