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Embark Photography Retreat Workshop

In September, Alex sent me screenshot of a post from Jessica Frey on Instagram. It was a post announcing a wedding photography workshop/retreat cruise. I don’t think Alex had any idea that when she sent me that message, that my response would be an automatic “HECK YES!”

I love traveling and this was the perfect opportunity to do so! We quickly scoped out the Embark website and checked our calendars to make sure we’d both be free and able to take off work for a week in February. After a few days we called each other, logged onto the website, and purchased our tickets! YAY! Then the fury of me getting a passport, working through an insane busy season, and learning about traveling with equipment set forth.

If you don’t follow me on on social media and are confused reading this post, let me fill you in!

Embark was created to be a workshop/retreat on a cruise where one of the port days consisted of a styled shoot at the Ritz-Carlton. Alex and I both agreed that it was the perfect time of the year to go, we could both use the vacation, and destination weddings is something we wanted to break in to – so it was an instant YES!

One thing that I loved about this experience was getting to hang out and talk not only business, but life with other wedding photographers from all over the US! We may or may not have already talked about a reunion…because this trip almost felt like summer camp and we were all SO sad to leave each other.

I’ve compiled all of my I-phone photos, some good camera shots, and a few photos from other girls who were on the trip to show here.

First: we had to fly to Houston! The ship left port in Galveston, so we drove through a snow storm and were prepped and ready for warmth in Texas (or so we thought!)

After a fantastic nights sleep (I slept so good guys, lol), we showered and packed again to get back to the airport to catch the shuttle to port!

We spotted our ship!!

We felt like we walked right into the 70’s. We were slightly horrified and went straight to the top deck to see land!

A really nice Carnival employee told us about a ton of places on the ship and took our photo! Look at how excited we were! 

Alex and I got hair and makeup done for head shots a few hours after we boarded the boat. We got to our room and sent some emails and then got pampered! I was obsessed! I had never gotten professional makeup done before this. We had to go dressed up to the Muster drill and everyone looked confused on why we were so glam! Thank you so much Kaci!

(ps, you can see the tiny bathrooms!)

Jess took my head shots and I had Alex take some on my camera so I could have them to edit with my style as well! My hair had fallen out a ton, it was super cold and windy, and look at that FOG!

We then had a hour or so before our styled engagement session started. This is where we met Mayra and Fernando! We instantly realized they were going to be the best models ever for this trip.

Some BTS of all of us shooting!

Love these people SO MUCH! This was night one with the best group!

Bre had to explain how dinner works on the ship and how you can order endless apps and entrees..and no one judges you! We ended up eating dinner as a group almost every night. We all agreed that would be something we missed because it was fun to hang out and talk amongst some delicious food!

Our first towel creature! We loved our steward, Sodri.

Day 1 at sea (we started sailing about 5 hours late because of fog), we went tanning, of course!

Jessica gifted us strawberries and wine! Thank you!!!

One of our first courses taught by Bre was styling. We were gifted these beautiful handmade invitation suites to take home and try on our own!

Class was in the Swing Time Jazz Lounge — and well it was interesting, can you tell?

We went out after dinner to catch Adam… we didn’t stay for any football.

Then we headed to the theater for a show and it was SO. CORNY. 

There were clever posters everywhere.

LOOK AT THAT BLUE WATER YA’LL. Port day 1: Cozumel, Mexico.

It was much hotter than I expected, but I was loving it. Here we were waiting for our driver to pick us up!

After some interesting experiences at the ruins…(IGUANA!) we were off to the beach for a good 15 minutes! Better some time than not at all! First up, portraits with the macaw because I just HAD TO, OK?! Thanks Bre! …then beach, thanks Steph for these!

Can you spot the photogs and the models?

We got back to the ship area way early, so we had lunch and drinks at a nice little restaurant right on the water.

Then back to the ship for some pool time!

Formal night 1!!!

Fun fact: our server brought us vats of mac and cheese almost every night. Since we traveled mostly together for dinner, our party size was pretty large. So, they sat us in the same spot almost every night. Thanks Yiem! We will forever be that group of women who needed mac EVERY NIGHT.

The next day was Grand Caymans! AKA, styled shoot day at the Ritz Carlton! We had to take a tender boat from the ship to shore since the ship couldn’t go closer. 

What dreams are made of. 

There were free range chickens everywhere. I was OBSESSED.

We had an amazing lunch at the Ritz which Showit sponsored. Thank you Showit!

That sunset – take me back!

Third port day: Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This was our full beach day and it was interesting to say the least! When we got off the ship, no one knew of our excursion and no one could help us! We were a little nervous, but were finally directed to the proper person and we were delivered safe and sound to a beautiful resort!

RIU was beautiful!

One request I had was “Alex you will take fiery photos of me on the beach.” As you can see, it wasn’t a request. She was forced, HAHA!

I realized at this point that I didn’t grab many photos of the amazing dinners we were served. So, here are a few!

Oh my gosh, cruise photographers were TERRIBLE. But, we loved the photos regardless.

Alex said we had to, so there we were. Also note how everyone else looked cute and the one day I decided not to dress up for dinner…we got photos taken!


I also broke out in heat rash or something all over my face. I think my body was in shock from seeing the sun! LOL

Last full cruising day! It was SO windy and gross out. But, Melissa did our hair and we braved it for some fun photos!

Thank you Bre for these! Alex took these. PS, I flashed everyone. All I heard was Shay screaming “BUTT-CHEEK BUTT-CHEEK!” Oh well, sorry! Some more mac! LOL

This was an indian vegetarian dish. I took one bite and went back to the mac.

We had our group picture taken by carnival on the last formal night! We passed by this photo of a mom holding her son’s face and husband’s face close (like we are) every day. Every day we cracked up and mocked it. So, it was only natural that we recreated it as a group. I also broke down and bought this photo. I have it framed in my room now!

PHEW. The last day/night the boat was moving SO BAD. Almost all of us were sick at one point or another. I was so incredibly ready to touch land! I snapped one last selfie as we headed out of our cabin and waited to disembark.

Alex’s aunt picked us up at port and took us around Galveston! We ate brunch at this stunning hotel right on the water in Galveston and then she drove us around. We were SO cold and I was SO tired. I slept the whole hour and a half (it may have been more) drive back to Alex’s aunt’s house.

We went out for some amazing Mexican food and shopping!

Yes, I did buy this BTW, HAHA. 

One last mirror selfie the morning we flew back home! I was so excited to go home to my own bed. I was also still experiencing some intense vertigo/disembarkation syndrome.

Bye Texas!!!

Some extra photos I grabbed from our shared Embark photo album!:


THAT IS A WRAP! If you stuck through this LOOOOONG post, thank you! I hope you enjoyed getting to see my trip!

A BIG thank you to Jessica for taking a risk and hosting this workshop! This was the first time something like this was done, and we were so excited and honored to be a part of it. Thank you to Bre for spending time filling us up with greatness! I was so excited for your classes!

Thank you to Mayra and Fernando for continuously being good sports and modeling all the time! Kaci – thank you for hair and makeup!!

Stay tuned for my session posts – two engagement sessions and a wedding at the Ritz in the Grand Caymans!

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