#teampixelsummit | Yeah Field Trip!

Sunset photograph of tepees at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas.

I just returned home from an amazing trip to Marfa, Texas as part of the first ever #teampixelsummit. I joined Google’s #teampixel in August and have been shooting photos with their Pixel 2XL and, most recently, their Pixel 3XL, ever since. Both phones have incredible cameras and we are super stoked to be affiliated with this team. To learn more about our thoughts on the phones, head on over here. In this post I’m going to share a little more about the #teampixelsummit experience as well as Yeah Field Trip!

Who attended the #teampixelsummit?

Myself and 49 other #teampixel members were selected to go on this adventure. It was a #giftfromgoogle and a total surprise. I found out in late January and the excitement leading up to my departure only grew as I found out who else would be going, what we would be doing, etc. Some of my favorite Instagrammers were there! It was really cool to meet people I’ve been following in real life. Be sure to give their accounts a peek (there’s a full list below) and follow them if you want a daily dose of inspiration. There’s all kinds of content represented. Everyone from Food Bloggers to Travel Photographers to Fashion and Beauty Influencers to Street Photographers to Stop-Motion Video Makers and so much more. I feel totally honored to even be included in the group.

#teampixelsummit Instagram handles

@erinlovesfun @sweetportfolio @jeremiahbonds @my.unicorn.life @romanshotthis
@vitorsaphoto @xtramoney @satanssj @azeez.bakare @audriestorme @tomwindeknecht @flopereira @loveofallofthethings @crissibeth @e.mcgrady (that’s me!) @stuffbeneats @cshimala @laurenmarek @haiiileen @misspiggieeats @cynLagos @cayleth @sarah.kohler @scrumphsus @tutes @sofiaecha @so.shauna @jesssorensen @amandagnwn @tiffwang_ @isaiahrw @readysetjetset @mattbweitz @elleselauner @marisajarae @inbetweenpics @gilbrtortiz @jtwiseguy @_badkarma @thefashionpoet @nickcrvwford @noemadnyc @sdamiani @thediningdolls @edgilardon @teamwoodnote @elijahbydesign @badluckbae @thenamestesa

In addition to the #teampixel members above, there were also many other creatives who were in attendance for Yeah Field Trip and whose work was just as inspiring. I was truly humbled by all of the amazing talent in one spot and really value the experience of being around so many creative people at one time.

What is Yeah Field Trip?

It’s kind of hard to describe Yeah Field Trip. (I realize that’s not helpful if you’re trying to decide whether to attend.) The best way I can think of to describe it is this: It’s similar to a typical photography conference where the people there obviously love photography and want to learn more. There’s gear checkouts so you can test drive some of the newest equipment (thanks Sony and Canon!), highly skilled teachers, different vendors with some free swag (stickers, notebooks, candy, free Topo Chico) and so forth … but in addition to the photo walks and the models on hand for photo shoots, there were classes that you wouldn’t see at most photography workshops. For example: breath work and yoga classes, a town hall about love and sex, an opportunity to take a block printing class, paint with watercolors, make a puppet, participate in a group meditation, learn how to beat box, dance all night at party called Lazers and Blazers … this year’s theme was Space Cow Human … I’m not joking. You will come away from this experience with more than you bargained for. I guarantee it.

block printing photograph of a wave
My first try at block printing. Photo taken with the Google Pixel 3XL #teampixelsummit

In addition to all of the activities, there were food trucks on site and since you have the option to sleep there, you can literally just hang out on the property for days without having to get in a car (unless you want to) or go anywhere. It’s part retreat, part professional development and 100% fun.

What are the people like at Yeah Field Trip?

This was one of my biggest questions. Who’s going? What kind of people do this? Would I fit in? I looked at the website several times before I actually arrived and I have to admit I was a little nervous. I can be a little shy! I think of myself as creative but was I creative enough? Some of the people I saw going had such impressive bios and resumes that I was worried and anxious I’d be in over my head. I was worried about being stuck with strangers for four days and wanting to go home as soon as I got there.

Buuuut almost as soon as I landed at the El Paso airport I started to feel more comfortable. The other people on #teampixel were so nice! And they were so down to earth. That feeling just kept expanding with each person I met. By the time I arrived at El Cosmico I realized that Yeah Field Trip has created the kind of experience where the space is safe for you to be yourself, in whatever way that means for you. The people teaching and organizing and attending Yeah Field Trip are there to share and grow and are interested in others doing the same. There were lots and lots of laughs over the couple of days we were there and there were many, many really deep, rich conversations which led to meaningful connections with others.

Caroline and I have always been big proponents of community over competition. We believe there’s enough work to go around for everyone and that you can grow not only yourself but your business by connecting with others, even if they’re in your same field. Not everyone embraces this mentality and that’s okay. But Yeah Field Trip and the #teampixelsummit are two examples where egos were put aside and people were willing to share what they knew.

That spirit of sharing and learning and mind expansion was my favorite part of the entire experience.

So the #teampixelsummit was held at Yeah Field Trip?

Sort of. Technically both the #teampixelsummit and Yeah Field Trip were held at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas. Yeah Field Trip is always switching up locations. The 2020 iteration of Yeah Field Trip is supposed to be held on Orcas Island, Washington.

The #teampixel summit was embedded in the Yeah Field Trip experience. Our schedule followed that of the Yeah Field Trip schedule but we also had several other #teampixel activities that we got to attend that included a dinner at the Hotel Saint George and a bus ride to the Prada Art Installation!

What’s Marfa, Texas like?

Marfa, Texas is located in the high plains desert of Texas. It’s a little on the small side. There are about 2,200 fun time residents. If you crave something that is unique, a little off the beaten path, artsy and still down to earth then you’re on the right track. Visiting Marfa means quiet mornings and an escape from traffic, deadlines and honking horns.  The architecture is really unique, there’s a bunch of great art galleries, several different works of art by Donald Judd, some tasty restaurants (Marfa Burrito anyone?), a stick and poke tattoo shop and, of course, El Cosmico.

What is El Cosmico like?

Vintage purple travel trailer at El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas #teampixelsummit
Morning light at El Cosmico! Taken with the Google Pixel 3XL.

El Cosmico is super cool. It’s on the outskirts of town and situated on a big, flat, open parcel of land with numerous brightly colored vintage travel trailers arranged in a neat arc. There are also safari tents, yurts and tepees on the property as well as plenty of open space for you to pitch your own tent. In addition to all of the various sleeping options, there are also a couple of communal style bathrooms (they’re clean!), an outdoor kitchen that has a communal fridge and sink, and even a hammock garden. It’s a pet friendly place and you can even rent bikes or an outdoor hot tub.

The morning and evening light at El Cosmico is special. If you get the chance to stay there be sure to set your alarm. Get up in the dark, make some coffee and be in place as the sun comes up. You won’t be disappointed.

Remember that you’re in the desert so bring close toed shoes for traipsing about and shower shoes for, well, the shower. You might also want to bring some sunscreen and a hat because though it got down into the 20’s and 30’s at night, the sun was out during the day and temperatures got up into the mid seventies.

Would you attend another Yeah Field Trip or #teampixelsummit?

HECK YEA! Without even thinking twice about it.

If you’re worried about being judged or not creative enough or are just starting out as a photographer, try to put those worries aside and take the plunge. This is the place where you will have the potential to make a huge creative leap in your work. There were all kinds of skills and abilities and personalities at this event.

The networking opportunities are abundant but the setting is super relaxed and you have access to some of the biggest names in photography. @jnsilva and @pauloctavious were both there. They each taught classes and in addition to that, they made themselves available during the weekend. It was kind of surreal to see them chatting at the food trucks or hanging out in line for coffee.

What did you get out of the #teampixelsummit and Yeah Field Trip experience

Was it real neon art installation in Marfa, Texas by Kendall Weir
Was it real by Kendall Weir, taken with Google Pixel Night Sight #teampixelsummit

After about 24 hours, I was able to relax into the experience and start to really get into things. I got up early each morning to catch the best light, charge my Pixel 3 and grab coffee and hang out with new friends. I’ve always been a morning person and it’s often my favorite part of the day because it’s when I feel most creative. It was awesome to be in a place that was so stimulating and visually appealing. I took tons of photos over the course of those few days, some of which are way outside of my norm as far as content and editing goes. I felt challenged to create things that looked and felt different from me.

I left feeling like I had a bunch of new friends that I could lean on for both professional advice as well as fun people to visit in across the country. 

I also felt rejuvenated. It was really nice to step away from my daily routine and take a break from my computer for a few days. It’s the first time in a few years that I’ve been able to divorce myself from my laptop. I thought it’d be harder than it was but I actually enjoyed it and when I first sat down in front of my laptop when I got home, I felt on fire in the best of ways.

#teampixelsummit and Yeah Field Trip Recap

TLDR? No worries. If you ever get the chance to experience either of these, do it. Make the time, clear your schedule, book the flight and go. I promise you won’t regret it. Being a part of the #teampixelsummit and Yeah Field Trip was a life changing experience for me and I am so thankful for this #giftfromgoogle.

Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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