Tara Donne Travels to Adult Dream Camp
Tara Donne is no stranger to travel. The seasoned photographer and motion director is known for photographing the finer things that make up a lifestyle: food, travel, family, and fun. In her latest project with Travel & Leisure, Tara takes her talents to the Adirondack Mountains to capture all it has to offer, from the rustic cabin scene to the luxurious lakeside resorts.
The Adirondacks has a special place in Tara’s heart. Having spent her early years near the mountain range at school in Syracuse, Tara was already keen on all the natural beauty the area has to offer. “I feel like people don’t know about the Adirondacks. There’s a bunch of different things I love about it. It’s just totally my vibe up there, big trees, big mountains. I’ve been there at a bunch of different times of year – in the winter with friends, renting houses and just enjoying the nature and snow around Lake Placid. I always really love it. There’s great hiking and a lot of outdoorsy activities. But I’d always look and look and I could never find really cool places to stay. In a way, it was sort of lovely and refreshing because there was nothing trendy - there’s not a million pre-curated instagrammable things. It’s just really beautiful, natural and raw. As an aesthetic person that feeling was always both underwhelming but in the same way a little bit refreshing.” It feels fated that Tara, who at a time craved more intentional beauty from the unchartered Adirondacks, was selected as the photographer for a multi-night adventure in different luxury accommodations, dubbed Adult Dream Camp.
Tara and the editorial team of Travel + Leisure stayed in a plethora of hotels throughout the Adirondacks for the Adult Dream Camp journey that each had their own unique feel. From affordable cabins deep in the mountains to properties along Lake George, to finally one of Rockefeller’s properties turned luxury resort, the photographer had no shortage of picture-perfect moments throughout her stay on the four-day shoot. Tara’s favorite stay, “hands down”, was The Point, which she refers to as the highlight of her trip. “It’s a really nice and beautiful property, but everything feels like authentically from when it was built - in the early 1930s. It has that Adirondack cabin feel but with a luxe twist. But it’s not like they did this cheesy over the top renovation that feels inauthentic to what the Rockefeller property originally was. It feels like you kind of get to go back in time,” explains Tara. “Before I arrived, they asked if I had dietary restrictions. I said yes, I can’t eat gluten, so when I arrived there was a plate of fresh baked gluten-free cookies. They make you feel taken care of. It’s also not so posh because you’re still in nature. You can take the boats out and go swimming and hiking. You can totally unplug. There were even top-shelf bars that you could just help yourself, set up in five different places.” Tara took those cues and made herself at home, going as far as to make a fire in the fireplace that was pre-stationed in her room to photograph and capture the full luxury of the moment.
Although The Point made Tara feel more than comfortable, the other areas of the Adirondacks evoked more familiar feelings of nostalgia, fulfillment, and family that Tara showcased in her images. “I think the range of accommodations that were part of this story was perfect for what I thought were the most exciting, interesting, beautiful, authentic to the place kind of summery moments and things that happened at each spot. The Sagamore is a beautiful island that’s in Lake George and it has all this coastline that’s so beautiful to enjoy and it has all these tubes and kids in the lake. It feels like a family place,” Tara notes, referencing the outtakes of images of children and families wading in the lake and walking along the lake with their tubes. “I think a lot of the inspiration was wanting to tell a story. When you’re shooting a travel story, it has so much to offer and there’s so much about it that makes it a wonderful experience. I just felt like I wanted to spend more time there, not just because I wanted too, but because I wanted more time to photograph everything that happened there. It was such a good place to just shoot an inclusive story from food to things there growing the garden to the people who work there. I wanted to capture that.”