The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Dan and Alex are small town Iowans that love cooking, camping, animated movies and making their baby giggle. They also happen to be known across the globe for their photography. Headquartered in the small city of Ames, the McClanahan’s operate a thriving portrait and commercial studio that is notorious for producing work that is both trendsetting and timeless. Their worked has graced numerous publications ((Professional Photographer Magazine, Rangefinder, F-Stoppers, etc) and they were recently awarded first place senior portrait AND wedding album in the world (PPA’s international photographic competition). Dan is also one of the youngest photographers in history to earn all three photography degrees bestowed by PPA. Yadda, yada, ya… you get it.

At their studio, Dan serves as photographer and retoucher while Alex serves as business-mastermind. They are both extremely passionate about their craft. Since their inception, they’ve experienced and troubleshot the entire gamut of business models and client types and have developed strong convictions about the best technical, business and relational practices. They’ve consistently taught sold out classes at conventions around the country and have fielded workshop requests for years. Well, it’s finally happening - their first solo retreat! Get ready for late nights, complete candidness, real shooting, real relationships, no fluff. Dan and Alex want you to leave rejuvenated and empowered to better your photography and your life!

The workshop will focus primarily on portrait photography with plenty of lighting, retouching, and individualized attention. The full itinerary will be catered to the group that comes.

What is included in the price?

Lodging at the Windward Retreat Center.

The center is located in Kaʻaʻawa, Hawaiʻi, a small beach community nestled between spectacular mountains and beautiful white sand beaches.

3 delicious meals daily.

Meals will feature local recipes inspired by in-season fruits and vegetables. (dietary needs accommodated)

Daily photography and business activities.

Activities are provided to help spark your creativity, drive your focus and extend your skills all while experiencing the beauty that is Hawaii. Each retreat will outline their focus and literary.

On-island travel to and from retreat activities.

Travel will be provided for designated retreat activities only. Transportation to and from the airport (HNL) and the retreat center is provided during the scheduled times on the retreat's arrival and departure days.

  • Departs the airport (HNL) around 3pm on the arrival day for the retreat center.
  • Departs the retreat center around 11am for the airport (HNL) on the departure day.

Explore the area in your free time.

There are three acres of tropical rainforest bordering the facility for you to explore including hiking and beach access.

What is not included?


The cost of your travel to and from Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) is not included in the retreat fees.

Please contact us prior booking your travel to ensure you'll arrive during our designated window to be included in the on island travel to and from the retreat center.

If you're arriving before or staying after the retreat, you're responsible for travel to and from our designated pick-up and drop-off location (HNL).


Participants will have the option to activities outside of retreat specific photography and business exercises. Additional costs may incur should you choose to participate. (ex: Lu'au, Pearl Harbor, Polynesian Cultural Center, Surfing or SUP Lessons, etc.)

Transportation for sightseeing and travel to activities outside of the designated retreat schedule will be at your expense. Transportation to and from the retreat center should you not arrive or depart during our set times. 

Additional food, snacks, alcohol or items of a personal nature and souvenirs purchased while out and about. (ex: shave ice, shrimp truck, malasadas, gifts, etc.)

Travel insurance and gratuities at your discretion. It is highly recommended you purchase insurance to cover your camera and gear while on retreat. We will not be held responsible for any damages.

Retreat Pricing

Available till February 8, 2017

Shared Room

  • $1795 (save $200) available through February 1, 2017
  • $450 non-refundable deposit paid by February 1, 2017 + payment in full by May 15, 2017

Single Room

  • $2395 (save $200) available through February 1, 2017
  • $450 non-refundable deposit paid by February 1, 2017 + payment in full by May 15, 2017

Available till May. 15, 2017

Shared Room

  • $1995 available through May 15, 2017
  • $450 non-refundable deposit paid by April 3, 2017 + 50% balance by April 24, 2017 + payment in full by May 15, 2017.
  • Single one-time payment ($1995) due in full by May 15, 2017. 

Get More Info

Secure Your Spot

Retreat Coordinator

Kaui Nichols:
(808) 779-7996 (TXT MSG)

For more information or to reserve your spot email:

$450 non-refundable deposit can be made to:

Mahalo To Our Sponsors

Retreat Schedule

Tuesday, June 6

  • Arrive at airport no later than 2 pm
  • Shuttle leaves for retreat center at 2:30 pm
  • 5pm Dinner
  • Evening lecture + Studio Lighting Demo

Wednesday, June 7

  • 7 am light breakfast
  • 7:15-8 am Yoga (optional)
  • 9:30-11:30 Lighting Bootcamp (photograph each other with 1 light)
  • 12 noon Lunch/12:30 leave for North Shore
  • 1:30 - 4 One on One Time + free time to sight see and enjoy the north shore area.
  • 4 pm Light Demo (light + scrim)
  • 4:30-6:30 Evening Shoot w/models (in groups)
  • 6:30-7 Group Photo Shoot w/sunset
  • Return to retreat center for Dinner + Hangout + Bed

Thursday, June 8

  • 7 am light breakfast
  • 7:15-8 am Yoga (optional)
  • 9:30-11:30 Post-Production
  • 11:30-2 Lunch + Free Time + One on One Time
  • 2:30 leave for Waikiki Pirate Ship Shoot
  • 3:30-6:30 Pirate Ship Commercial Shoot
  • Head back to retreat center for Dinner + Hanging Out + Bed

Friday, June 9

  • 8 am Breakfast & Pack
  • 9-10 am Post Production
  • 11 am leave retreat center for the airport

Retreats are for everybody.

Retreats are for ordinary people at any time in their lives, giving them the chance to step aside from life for a while, to rest and become refreshed in a nurturing and peaceful environment.
Socrates says the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

DO IT NOW. Sometimes LATER becomes NEVER.

I attended my first retreat over 8 years ago, on a whim as my life changed suddenly I found myself free from obligations and with an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had a passport so I booked my ticket to Costa Rica at midnight two weeks prior to the retreat start date knowing only the retreat host and barely at that. I didn’t even know where Costa Rica was on a map.

I landed in Costa Rica a day early. I was alone and I didn’t speak a word of Spanish! It was scary at first, but also empowering as I navigated a place to stay, food and the time difference my iPhone didn’t register.

By the time we arrived at our Retreat Center…an eco-lodge… I had survived the night, gotten myself to the group’s meeting location and taken a sketchy 45-minute flight on a 12 passenger hopper where you had to be weighed carrying your luggage to make sure the plane wasn’t too heavy. The plane took off and landed three times at these secluded, small “towns” before finally arriving at our location. I gathered my backpack from the side of the “landing strip” and jumped into the back of a truck with a bench seat for a 45-minute, bumpy car ride on an unpaved road through the jungle of Costa Rica’s rain forest.

let the fun begin!

My home for the next 10 days was a hut made out of bamboo with no walls or a real door for that matter. The bathroom was in a separate building off to the side and you couldn’t flush the toilet paper! There was a bug net to sleep under or risk being eaten alive and don’t even think about leaving food out or eating in your hut unless you like ants and other critters in your bed. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing here, but here I was and here I would be for the next 10 days!

There was no electricity in our rooms, but solar panels lit up the kitchen/dining room/main hang out area. We used candles and headlamps to get between there and our rooms. All meals were served family style at a specific time and we ate together on a long wooden table with bench seats. The sun rose at 6 am and set at 6 pm. The yoga deck was outside with no cover or protection from the elements but a beautiful view of the beach.

Let’s Connect

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June 6-9 2017: McClanahan’s Hawaii Retreat