“As creators, we always dream of that perfect shot; the one that’s been brewing in our heads while we sleep; the one that we start to give tangible direction to on our drive to that perfect location; the one that we start to taste as we ascend up 1,963 wet, slippery, uneven stairs on the side of a cliff; the one that makes us anxious once we make it to the top, catch our breath, take in that perfect view we worked so hard for, and take that shot.
This past week, I and 17 other creators from The Hub, took our vision of the perfect creative experience to Devil’s Lake. H got us to the the base of those stairs to turn our creative vision into a reality. Our trips creative experience does not start at those stairs, rather in a small country home in rural Wisconsin where 18 creatives from every corner of the Midwest gathered around a dining room table for the first time. H took us off Instagram and made our interactions real. We knew we had been given an extraordinary opportunity to create some incredible work with some very creative minds. And that is exactly what we did.
Shooting, shooting, shooting! Constantly creating in every room of the house, out by the barn, in the endless fields of corn, and even with the local cows. Those stairs drew ever closer and loomed in front of us as the days went on. Everyone was building off each other, getting ready for that climb. Coming up with more creative shots by the second. You could feel the excitement in the air when someone would take their perfect image and then push themselves, and everyone around them, to do even better! Everyone was creating like clockwork and we all could not be happier on how surreal and amazing this experience was.
The stairs now stood tall and proud in front of us; a stunning mountain before us. The conditions were perfect and moody. One of those days you rarely get. As we started our climb the creative energy was overwhelming. You could see it in everyone’s eyes. When we finished the final switch back and looked out over Devil’s Lake, we all knew that this is why we chose it as the location for the trip, despite the crisp fall air freezing our fingers, despite the snow drizzle on our cameras, despite the model’s’ toes nearly freezing off. Devil’s Lake is one of those hidden Midwest gems not many people know about or get the chance to visit. Its pretty from the valley’s floor but when you see it from the top it comes alive and the blankets of fall colors and misty clouds fill the horizon. The warm tones of all the red orange rock makes it feel like it’s straight from a fairytale.
Take H with you on all your adventures and you will be shocked at the endless open doors, friendships and memories you will make along that climb to the top.” – Michael Snell
“Leading up into the weekend, the excitement was building inside of me. Each day drew me closer to meeting new creatives, new friends, and embarking upon a new adventure. My Michigander compadres and I are always looking for new places to go and explore. New locations to create magic. This past weekend was one of the most unforgettable experiences. From chasing the cows, dancing in the kitchen at 1am, shooting at all hours of the day and night, to climbing the slippery rocks in the crisp fall air at Devil’s Lake. Everything about this weekend was what I, as a creative, stand for. Each person I encountered in Wisconsin brought new perspectives on art, and life in general. I don’t know about you, but there is nothing more magical than a farmhouse full of brilliant creatives whose minds are always thinking about the “next great shot”. I am so thankful that H believed in each person on this trip. I am thankful that they give opportunities to creatives like us to make the art that we so desperately love and reach for. H has brought so much color and vibrancy into my life, and I will be forever grateful.” – Dani Firestone
“In the days leading up to the weekend of November 4th, I was nervous. I was nervous meet this almost entirely new group of people, who not to mention are all some of the most talented photographers and models I had ever seen. What if I blew it? What if we ended up not dancing to the beat of the same drum? What if I get lost trying to find this AirBNB out in the middle of nowhere? What if I somehow forgot all of my gear? All of this was running through my mind as I was walking home from work that Friday.
After stewing on all of these insane questions and a few others on the INCREDIBLY exhausting 35 minute drive (I was lucky) to Poynette, I didn’t know how to feel. Then, I pulled into the driveway and all of my (crazy) worries were gone. I was immediately met by all of the people I had been group chatting with for the past 2 weeks. Introductions and hugs were passed around as I unloaded basically my entire vintage collection into this 100+ year old farm house. I wasn’t there for even 5 minutes and I knew that these were real lifelong connections being made.
You could feel the creative electricity in the air even after everyone’s long drive. The sun was down, the light in the house was dim, and everyone was dead tired, but there were still shutters clicking. This wasn’t just a bunch of kids on some adventure. This was a farmhouse filled with passionate and dedicated creatives who would stop at nothing to get their perfect shots.
I can’t even describe how thankful I am to H for bringing together this group of amazing people and for helping to build the Midwest creative community. It’s been only one week since everyone got together, and already there have been talks of a reunion, setting up photo meets, and more adventure plans. The connections and friendships forged over Gram’s kitchen table will never be forgotten. (Not to mention all of the killer photos taken.)” – Tom Borges
“For many reasons, I was ecstatic about going on this trip. The moment Michael mentioned planning a trip, my mind was already racing with creativity – shots I’ve always wanted to try, concepts that have been in my head for weeks. When I found out that the trip was on the weekend of my birthday, I was even more excited, as well as nervous.
My nerves had never been more wrong as it was the most amazing experience I’ve had in my photography career. Spending my birthday weekend with a group of strangers in theory sounds like the least ideal way of celebrating, but upon meeting all of these creative, talented people, I felt the furthest thing from “strangers”. The genuine passion all of these wonderful minds had for photography and for progressing themselves could not have been more powerful, providing a stepping stone for all of us to take our best shot.
H provided us with an amazing experience to spend a weekend with like minded individuals and I could never be more grateful. I made lifelong friends in an unforgettable place, friends that still talk to this day and are literally planning to move in together one day to continue creating together.
We all fell deeper in love there, with photography, with the location, with collaborating.” – Elizabeth Witt
“It amazes me each day that a passion, as universal as creating, can bring so many like minded, yet different, individuals together. It’s the fact that all of us are creators and understand the concept of self expression through our own art that allows us to relate. It’s the fact that we all see things differently and express ourselves through different ways for different reasons that allows us to inspire each other while also pushing us to grow.
Photography has done nothing but served as an avenue to some of the best experiences I’ve had in my lifetime. I’ve been able to connect with so many people and see some of the coolest places simply because I’ve chosen to direct the majority of my energy into my passion for photography and creating content through it.
This trip with H was huge for reinforcing my love for what I do and providing a backdrop to some of my favorite work created yet. It gave me a much better idea of what H is all about and it reminded me of the importance of creatives connecting with other creatives to produce work even more powerful and moving than what could have been produced with one vision alone. Collaborating is a very powerful tool every creative should take advantage of. I’m thankful H pushes this idea and encourages it one meetup at a time.” – Lauren Dahlhauser
View all of their tagged Instagram accounts and the hashtag #hubdevilslake to see more photos from their trip!
If H sponsored an event for you and your friends – where would you go? Comment below with your answer!