Four photographers capture more than just snapshots.




As I pull through the gates of Smith Lake Farm, I’m greeted by the sounds of chickens clucking and disc golfers celebrating a successful putt somewhere far off on this expansive property in Merville.

I’m here to meet three other local photographers: Karen McKinnon, Jenn Dykstra, and Meredith Rose. At owner Clea Adair’s adorable tiny home, we fall into a relaxed, easy conversation over sushi, giddy at the prospect of spending the night at this beautiful farm. It’s a rare chance to recharge and reflect with like-minded peers.

After dinner, we grab our cameras and explore the property. The farm is just far enough from town to make you feel isolated from daily life—in the best way possible. We check out the glamping sites, nerd out over potential photo ops, and squabble amicably about who will stay where.

As the sun begins to set, the gorgeous light coming through a line of trees inspires an impromptu photoshoot. Before the moment disappears, Meredith and I sprint to her car, where she houses a selection of dresses for her clients. Within minutes, she and Jenn are frolicking in the meadow while Karen and I photograph them. We howl with laughter, taking nothing seriously—just four photo geeks doing what we love, without pressure or constraints. It’s wonderfully freeing.

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Although we’d planned a formal discussion around our businesses and goals, the conversation took a more natural flow instead, creating a closer connection and mutual understanding. When we’re all small business owners, it’s impossible to talk about business without talking about our personal lives; these two facets of our lives are delicately intertwined.

In my cozy glamping tent, I reflect on the evening. Did we spend our time collaborating to create portfolio-worthy imagery? Nope. Did we go over our business plans? Also, no. But did we form a stronger sense of community than we arrived with? Definitely. And did we walk away with sore abs from all the belly laughs? Yes! And that, by my standards, is a successful evening.

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