Every spring, CBU’s graphic design and photography department spends a great deal of time planning its annual photo shoot trip. The professors form a sort of team, gather up students and steal them away for a weekend to give them a taste of the effort involved in real-life photography projects. While “effort” unfortunately rings an unwelcomed bell in the ears of many college students, to us, it’s the most fun kind of effort around!  And thanks to God and good timing, I was one of the lucky students who had the opportunity to share in that experience this year.

This year, the professors decided to take us up to the mountains for our shoot. Along with us design students, they also asked a couple of students interested in a modeling career to join our journey and act as the subjects of our work. All design and photography students received an invitation in their Lancermail, which ended with, “And, we will feed you.” How could we say no to that?

This is how CBU rolls.

And so, one beautiful Friday morning, all 40 of us artists loaded up into six large SUVs and took off for an unforgettable overnight adventure!

It took us about an hour and a half to reach CBU’s Tahquitz Pines Conference Center in Idyllwild, where we would be staying. Once we arrived there, we were given a few minutes to find our cabins and unpack, and then it was off to location scouting!

The girls and I outside our homey cabins!

Now, if I’m being honest, I was expecting that the professors had already planned out where exactly we would be caravanning for our shoots… but no, it was just as much a mystery to them as it was to us. So naturally, the first day of our trip involved a whole lot of driving around in circles and getting lost before finding our “perfect” spot to shoot. But again, if I’m being honest, I actually think that was one of the more enjoyable parts of the trip! After all, what fun is a strict schedule to an artist?

After we spent a few hours shooting and observing the techniques of the professors, we headed back to camp for a wonderfully hot meal. But, it wasn’t until after dinner that the real fun began.

With the sun left the warmth, so we all huddled around a glowing bonfire. One of the students pulled out a guitar, and before long, we were all worshipping together, under the stars, as a family. Marveling in the beauty of this, I’d almost forgotten why we were there – and then we were called out into the trees.

One of our professors decided to go out and buy fog machines and colored flashlights to surprise us with. He also brought a hefty outside projector. So as darkness fell over the mountains, we photographers picked up our lights, flipped on the fog and ran the projector – setting the stage for one of the most fantastic shoots I have ever seen.

“Lightwriting” in the trees!

Our professors then proceeded to teach us the art of what’s called “lightwriting,” which is basically capturing moving lights with one shot. If you’re skilled, you can even “paint” pictures or write words with light, capturing the whole piece with your camera. This might have been the most fascinating thing I’ve learned all semester!

With the following afternoon came time to say goodbye to the camp and head back up to our home away from home. As all the SUVs pulled back into CBU, we said our goodbyes, ready to rest for a while. I’d hardly realized how exhausted I was with all the distraction of ongoing activities!

I’m so blessed to have been able to ride along for this adventure and sure hope I’m able to again in the coming years!