I mentioned in my last post that every section of this trip was completely different from the others, and if you can’t tell by the image above, this group was a little different than the last one. And it was great! In all honesty I wasn’t even going to take this picture nevertheless include it in any kind of online social media or blogging. But, after I sat down behind my typewriter for a little bit and reflected, I felt like this picture was the perfect introduction. Where the last group had a determination about them and an extreme competitive drive and nature, the Hall Pass group was the exact opposite while they were in Marfa. They were there to relax a little bit, cut loose, and enjoy the short window of freedom and vacation from the stifling real world that they had been given. It was a time to get to know each other and know themselves a little bit better, have the occasional adult beverage, and just let loose one more time before it’s back to the grind of life. Was it what I was expecting after the first trip? Absolutely not. In fact, I was almost struggling with what to document and by the point the photo above was taken I was just about done with the group until I decided to just let go of my preconceptions of what was going to happen on this trip and enjoy these wonderful people for who they were.
Besides the obvious above, there was another big change from the first session to the second and third sessions with the Lululemon Residency project. Eric Walley. I know I’ve mentioned him on the blog in other places before, but this was the first time that Eric and I really got to hang out outside of our weekly church small group discussions. Eric is an extremely talented photographer and if you want to see his images from the trip (which I strongly urge you to do), go check out his website and give him a follow on Instagram while you’re at it. Anyway, shameless plug aside, obviously Eric and I didn’t know a whole lot of what to expect from each other outside of that group. We were going from weekly group discussions of a few hours to locked in a car together for a 10 hour drive from Houston, a 7 day excursion together, and a 10 hour drive home that could be easy and awesome or an absolute nightmare depending on how we got along during the first two phases of the trip. Needless to say, it was awesome. Through and through I believe I enjoyed these trips (and I know it was not just me because both the Hall Pass and Namaste groups LOVED him) more because of him. So, thank you Eric for saying yes and coming out to Marfa, TX with me.
On top of just having Eric along for the trip though, it was awesome to have him there because it took just a little bit of the stress and pressure off of just my shoulders. I didn’t have to focus on capturing EVERYTHING, I just had to focus on telling a chunk of the story and knowing that Eric would help me fill in the rest. Just like Sam and I used to do back in the day when we were shooting weddings. So, along with the Hall Pass group, I got to relax a little more myself this time and create something that felt a little more developed than it may have otherwise.
Enough of my rambling though, you’re probably still wondering what the hell Hall Pass is, who these people are, and why Lululemon felt it was necessary to bring them out to Marfa. Simple enough question…
The Hall Pass group was the most different of the three groups because it wasn’t a group of non-Lulu employees being brought out to Marfa. It was exactly what the title states: a Hall Pass for a select group of the Educators employed by Lululemon in the Southern Texas areas. A few days on Lulu to just go out, enjoy Marfa, relax, and get to know their fellow employees a bit better. I’d definitely say that was a success because by the time they got off the bus in Marfa just a few minutes after Eric and I arrived, they were already well acquainted and acting like best friends for years. The party had already started and, once again, Eric and I were playing catch up to enjoy the fun. I won’t say it was as easy with this group (for myself at least) just because of the age difference and where our mindsets were in the beginning. As I stated, I expected another group very similar to the first and that could not have been more wrong. The Hall Pass group were mostly young adults in their early twenties who were looking to figure out who they are still and what their drive was in the world. Not necessarily business owners and men with young families trying to mold and hone their crafts to a finer edge. There is a big mindset gap there and it was awesome to see how the conversations shifted between the two. I would say the biggest difference was energy. Hall Pass was definitely defined by a chaotic energy that spurred a lot of creativity, excitement, fun, and some very interesting memories.
Enough about that all of that though, what did we do… Well, we really just enjoyed Marfa. We explored on bikes again (I brought my own this time in order to avoid having to jog across Marfa with a bike on my back again), we enjoyed the amazing Corte Del Norte we were staying at in Marfa (I highly recommend if you’re ever going to visit which I recommend as well), we practiced some Yoga, and just explored who we are as people. Kelley and Jess-with-a-K (if you’re reading this Jess, I will always refer to you that way and never just Jeska :) ) lead some group discussions very similar to what we did with the guys on the mountain top and it was interesting to see the differences there as well. There was a very different tone to the answers they gave for their purpose. Where the guys were very directed towards their goals as personal trainers, athletes, or businessmen and family-men, this group was very general in terms of just knowing that they wanted to do something for the greater good of society and the humanity around them. Something that seemed to inspire or ignite something in all of them was the urge to listen to others, make them feel loved and welcomed, and to bring happiness into those around them in their own way. It was truly beautiful to watch each of them shape and form that statement for themselves and amazing to hear in a time where the world can seem like such a fatalistic and narcissistic place. I loved to just sit back and help them construct their sayings and watch it change inside each of them.
The one day that was a bit different was the 2nd and last full day in Marfa. Over the course of the first day and the first two evenings I had continued to plan my shoot in West Texas and wanted to create something a little more my style like I was taking about in Part I of this series. It wasn’t until I met Shannon, Luna, and Adyn that I really found my muses and knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to shoot them just doing very serene yoga poses at dawn in the Ft. Davis mountains. I won’t go into too much detail here, but you can check out the blog post on that from early last week. It was an awesome (extremely early) morning that I think will stick with all 5 of us for years to come. We even made it back before morning yoga with the group! Now, I had to drive like a bat out of hell down a mountainside to get there in time, but we’re all alive and that’s really here nor there. Just another shameless plug for the Audi Q5 I guess.
Anyway, after we arrived back at camp and after the yoga session, the group rallied up for their purpose discussion and then it was off to Balmorhea State Park for another day at the Spring doing some swimming and goofing off. Kelley had me absolutely doubled over in laughter a few times and – this is not an exaggeration – actually got a round of applause and a standing ovation from the rest of the pool with her goofball antics and an epic backflip with her pink goggles and float around her waist. It was an absolute blast and I almost forgot how tired I was from the morning hike up and sprint down the mountain. The drive back to Marfa was hell though and I had a little help from Red Bull to get the job done safely.
That was really the culmination of that group though. A first day that was a little entropic in its design that ended up with a trip out of Prada Marfa and 6 naked (extremely tan-lined) asses staring though the window, and a second day that started as peaceful and serene as you could have planned for, transitioned into a heartfelt discussion on purpose, and ended with a group of friends living it up at the pool for one last afternoon together before heading back home. By the time we had gotten back to Corte Del Norte, the final group had arrived and while the quick friendships that had developed seemed to group together, you could tell that the overall dynamic had changed a bit and it was no longer a Hall Pass, it was time for the last group of the trip to begin their own journey in Marfa and create their own experiences and friendships. Where Eric and I were probably a little over Hall Pass after day one, we were nothing but disappointed to see them leave by the end of day two and I know we were missing the hell out of them for the rest of the trip because during all of that chaos we had truly formed bonds with many of the people that were in that group. Honestly, I think some of my closest bonds came out of that group and a lot of the memories that we still joke about came from them. It was an experience that started hesitantly, was marked by moments of joy and friendship, and ended with a longing to see these people again. Maria Magic. That’s the only way you can some it up.