If you follow me on Instagram (@dstewartphoto) you may have noticed a trip to Texas I took this past fall… I’ve had many friends ask about it, so I decided it’s high time I share about my incredible experience at the Life & Craft Workshop!

The story really starts about 5 years ago when I visited the V8 Ranch for the first time. In college, I had the opportunity to to compete on the Livestock Evaluation Team. As a central Illinois kid, I’d never seen a “Brahman cow” (a breed of cattle more suited for the southern climate) in real life, but we were sure to see them at the competition in Houston, Texas so our coach took us to a “workout” at the V8 Ranch to practice on some of the best Brahman cattle in the country. The ranch was such a beautiful place and seeing it’s idyllic pastures with the big old trees made me fall in love with Texas.

My junior year of college I was blessed to have two other girls on my livestock judging team. The team spent A LOT of time together, so naturally, every now and then we would have some serious “girl talk” about boys and weddings and such. It was during one of these conversations that my teammate, Emily, told us she already had her wedding photographers picked out and she would have no one besides Luke & Cat. Well, she wasn’t kidding. Several months after that conversation she got engaged and when I saw her engagement photos I began following the the talented husband and wife photography team on social media. It was only then I realized that Cat’s family owned the V8 ranch! I had never made the connection!

Eventually, I became more serious about photography and wanted to learn everything I could about it!  I contacted Luke and Cat and booked a one-on-one coaching day at their home on the ranch. That was an incredible experience and it gave me just the push I needed to launch my photography business. Not only did I walk away with a lot of great information (and a super sweet gift), I left the ranch that day with two new friends, mentors, and encouragers. It was hands down the best investment I ever made in my photography business.

This past September, Luke & Cat hosted their very first photographer workshop. I honestly debated about attending the “Life and Craft Workshop” and wether I wanted to spend the money, but let me just say, I am SO glad I did! I knew that it would be good. Luke and Cat are some of the best hosts and the coolest people to hang out with. But, I never could have guessed how amazing it would really be!

First off, they treated us so good… with fantastic goodie bags and delicious food.  Secondly, it was so wonderful to connect and build relationships with other photographers. Having a whole lot of talent from all over the country adds a really fun dynamic. I feel like we really connected. In 3 short days, we became like a little family. And, six months later we still continue to stay in touch, support and encourage each other. It’s really beautiful.  And finally, Luke and Cat set up a first class educational experience for the group with relevant topics, well thought-out lessons, and phenomenal hands on experience. They generously shared their experiences of building a successful photography business… the failures and the successes. They answered endless questions and took a genuine interest in helping each and every attendee. The workshop included three of the most beautiful styled shoots for us to practice with our cameras in that perfect, golden, Texas sunset. (I can’t wait to share more of the photos from these!)

The very first night of the workshop, we enjoyed a gourmet dinner at the prettiest table I’ve ever eaten at… as I sit here at my dining room table, the cold wind raging outside, the memory of this evening warms my heart! I love looking back at the way life works out. Who would have guessed that livestock and a little late night girl talk would have connect me to some of the best photographer friends out there? I’m thankful for the way the good Lord works and that He brought y’all into my life!

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Hosts of the Life and Craft Workshop: Luke & Cat

Design: Lean on Me Events

Caterer: Red Sage Catering

Rentals and Lighting: The Foundry Rental Co.

Florals: Carter’s Florist

Place Settings: A Finer Event

Calligraphy and Menu Design: Calligraphy Cult

Menu Production: Paper Birch Designs

Napkins: Aztec USA