HOF Retreat | Playa Del Carmen, Mexico | Personal

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Prepare for a long blog post today! πŸ˜‰

If you follow me of social media, you may saw that David and I went on a trip in early December to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Today, I am finally sharing all about it! πŸ™‚

Earlier in the year, a few fellow photographers mentioned they were going on vacation to Mexico with other photographers for a really good price and mentioned that I should go. Once I found out more about it, I instantly put a deposit down and told David that if he wishes to go, he can! So, he decided to go and we both saved and made sure we had our end of the year vacation.

The trip was hosted by Maureen, the owner of House of Flynn. Although I do not have any of her camera bags (I have always wished I did… But I do have some of her clothing… hehe!), I have always loved her energy, heart, and thoughtfulness. She has built a community so strong and supportive, I love it! Her brand is NOT just camera bags, but so much more!

While we were there, we did SO MUCH! I thought I would break it down to the days and show some photos I took with our phones or GoPro. Speaking of GoPro, David and I purchased a GoPro to not only help with our vlogs (which we haven’t been able to really do much updating on that lately), we got it for our travels like going to Mexico!

While we were there we did have one of my DSLRs, our GoPro, and our phones, but we were in such vacation mode that we really didn’t want to be stuck behind any device. We spent more time being present and enjoying our vacation instead. There were moments during the trip or even after that I wish I had video taped more or photographed more, but in reality, David and I both really needed the relaxation, the bonding (with each other and with the fellow member of the retreat), and the exploration.

With that being said, we may not have tons of photos or a long video to share, but we did have the BEST time while we were there. πŸ™‚

David and I ended up taking a red-eye flight Sunday night, so we can have a full day on Monday at the beach! πŸ™‚ We were so excited that we weren’t sure if we would get any sleep! Luckily we got about 2-3 hours!

Once we landed early morning on the Monday, we had breakfast at the hotel, took a power nap, and headed to the beach to spend some alone time before we would spend the week with everyone else. πŸ™‚

After everyone flew in, we had a big meeting (all 118+ of us) with Maureen on how the week was going to go. Some of us girls (thankful our group had David with us!) ended up going down 5th avenue (which is really popular in Playa Del Carmen, especially at night) that evening because the hotel was right by the street and we just wanted to explore. We quickly learned that every shop is going to try to suck us in to shop/purchase stuff for the rest of the week. We also learned that even if people talk to you or show you things on the street, they want a tip. It was an interesting first night down that street! hahah. After exploring the street, we came back to the hotel to join some others to hang by the pool and bond into the late hours of the night.

The next day was an early rise (especially after a late night), but it was an EXCITING one!! All of us headed in a charter bus over to Xel Ha. Xel Ha was absolutely breath-taking and had so much to offer! We spent hours there, but we still did not get to do everything!

We hung out on hammocks, cliff jumped off of two different heights (it was a bit scary but so fun!), zip-lining, swam through caves with fish, went tubing, snorkeled, walked on a bridge that moved with the waves, and had all you can eat and drink through out the whole day! Amazing, right? It was! πŸ˜‰

On to the third day. That Wednesday, some of the members went on more explorations, while some of us took time to invest in our business with free classes!
We got to learn more about connection and posing from Julie Paisley and more about being REAL with our business + personal life with Ashton Kelley. Sitting in the heat for a few hours with them was so worth it. There were laughed shared and even some tears!

After lunch, a few of us ended up with these cute, “Mermaid on Duty” shirts (which actuallyΒ  made me wish I still had my long hair for that day! hehe!) I didn’t bring my camera with me to the beach, but David and I still got some shots together at the beach (which you will see some as you scroll down). While we were there at the beach it sprinkled…. then POURED!! We were sitting on the sand when it started to sprinkle and we figured it was just going to be light and only for 2 minutes, like it did the two days before… Nope! We were definitely WRONG! hahahah!
As it started to pour you see everyone (including us) just grabbing things and getting under shelter! hahah! It continued for about another 10 minutes. It wasn’t cold, so we decided to just dance in it (as little kids were rolling in the floor in it). We were full of laughter!

That night we ended up staying in and continued to bond. Missing these girls like crazy!

On our last full day, was considered a free day. There was no plans from Maureen, so some of us headed to the Mayan Ruins. This day was SO humid. Especially in a long dress! We went to explore a little bit, but mainly to take pictures to build a portfolio and to simply capture the beauty of the location.
(You will see more professional as you scroll down)
After having Mexican food all week, some of decide to have italian food for our last night there! We weren’t sure why we waited until the last day to have Ambasciata, but it was so good we wished we went there more!

Our last day didn’t have pictures, but David and I got to relax and have another meal before we headed to the airport in the late afternoon.

As we headed home, I was right back to work with answering emails and editing on my laptop.

Just thinking back on our week there, I can’t help but smile. It was a fun experience and I hope to go on another vacation with some of the House of Flynn girls again soon. πŸ™‚
(Side note: We have had comments that David was one lucky guy to be surrounded by so many girls on this vacation. In a way, yes! haha! But he was not the only guy. There were more there too! πŸ™‚ hehe!)

As I mentioned above, you would see some professional photos!
First, I wanted to share the few that I DID take when I was in Mexico! Which was of Cari, a fellow photographer, at the Mayan Ruins. I didn’t get the chance to really photograph anyone else, as Cari was the only one “modeling” besides David and I!

Isn’t she just GORGEOUS!? πŸ˜€

Now onto the photos of David and I from the amazing + talented fellow photographers! πŸ™‚

Photos above by: Jade Nikkole Photography

Photos by: Basically Emily

Photo by: Cari Hughes Photography

Cari also took these of us at the Mayan Ruins:

Another photographer who shared the photos with us, Ambar of Ambar Dilallo Photography:

Last but not least, we also got these from Sarah of Shuttergram Portraits:

Here is our little highlight video we put together on our YouTube channel:

We first planned to vlog (talk about everyday and how we were feeling while we were there) but we didn’t do much talking, as we didn’t do much filming! heheh! But I hope you enjoyed it!

Now, our next mission: Continue the hustle and plan + prepare for our two weeks in Paris this April!! πŸ™‚

Thank you for viewing today’s blog post! I know it was long + full of photos!

Shelby Danielle
{Follow me of Instagram for daily updates:Β @ShelbyDaniellePhotography}

About Me

I am a wedding & portrait photographer based in Southern California and beyond!

I started at the young age of 16 in my hometown of Orange in Orange
County, California. As my photography business grew and I got married,
life took me to the Chino Hills area, making me more centered to all
major Southern California counties.

Here on the blog, you will
see a variety of posts regarding tips, sessions & weddings, and my
personal life of being a wife, mother, and business owner. To learn more
about me or to see more daily adventures, follow me on Instagram and/or

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