It’s hard for me to believe that it was almost a month ago that I had the AMAZING honor of speaking at Kevin Kubota’s Photographers Ignite in New York City. Part of me feels like it was only yesterday and the other feels like it was light years away. And no matter how much time has elapsed, I still can’t believe it was real! I was sitting there in my home office in my living room watching Kevin Kubota’s workshop on CreativeLIVE, and when it went to break, for some reason instead of going and walking my dog like I normally do, I stuck around and watched the promo ads. First they played a video announcing that CreativeLIVE would be having a workshop in New York City. I was THRILLED, I thought to myself, YAY! EAST COAST CLASS! I can make it! Gotta be in that audience!!! So I was already pretty amped up. Then the next promo was from Kevin asking for submissions for Photographers Ignite that would also be taking place in New York City. I’m not exactly sure what Kevin said in that video that made me say, yes, I want to make a crazy video submission. Perhaps it was the idea that it’d give me a platform to help make a real difference in our industry. I figured what do I have to lose? A few minutes of my time, that’s it. I made my video, submitted it, and then didn’t give it too much more thought.
To my total surprise, a few weeks later I got an email saying I’d been selected as a speaker. I couldn’t believe my eyes looking at that email before me. I started to do a HUGE happy dance. I was going to be a speaker along with some of the most famous photographers in the world. And then it hit me, WHOA! Now I actually have to come up with a presentation!!!! They wanted our slides ASAP. I came to realize that 5 minutes is a VERY short period of time to give a talk with any substance. I had to really hone down my message unless I was going to have to talk like an auctioneer on speed. I took my husband’s advice and wrote down on note cards each of the points I wanted to make. Then I could shuffle them around until the order made sense and pull them out as necessary for time. This was super helpful and I will definitely use this method for any other talks I ever give in the future. I pared it down to what I felt were the key points and then created slides to go with them. Knowing that Photographers Ignite is a somewhat lighthearted event, I tried to make sure that I added some humor to my images.
After my slides were submitted I felt a great weight lifted off my chest. My content was set. I wanted to be able to do my whole presentation without note cards, so I practiced over and over. I swear I was even practicing in my sleep. Before I knew it, it was time to make my way to New York City for CLNYC and Photographers Ignite. I love going to New York because that means I get a chance to see my sister Martha and stay at her place in Gramercy Park. She gave me some super helpful feedback for my talk and taught me to be able to go through my talk even if distractions present themselves (which sure came in handy when a helicopter decided to buzz by the building at about 3:10 into my presentation).
In addition to being a speaker at Photographers Ignite, I also had the privilege to be in the audience for CreativeLIVE’s special New York City workshop. Being there in person for the class was fantastic and very educational, but getting to know the audience members was the best part. I made tons of new friends and they even were willing to be a super supportive trial audience for me. Julia Ferry gave me the best advice that I used during my talk. She told me any time I get nervous mid talk to just look at a familiar face, like my husband or one of my new friends from the CLNYC audience. This really did the trick! To also make me a little less nervous, I got my hair and make-up done professionally by Taly Waisberg. From watching Sue Bryce’s workshops I’d seen what an AMAZING difference professional hair and make-up can make in a person’s appearance and self-confidence. Taly was FABU and stayed with me right up until we started filming to do last minute touch-ups. As the hours were ticking down, I started to feel myself getting more excited and more nervous. Luckily, right about then my husband Matt showed up. Matt just has a way of making everything better. He had a super yummy McDonald’s yogurt parfait for me so I wouldn’t be both hungry and nervous at the same time. He got a seat in the audience right behind me, even though that meant he’d likely be on camera (and he’s a little camera shy), so I’d know he was there for me. As the other speakers went up before me, every so often he’d give my hand a little squeeze. Funny thing happened though. Right before I went on, I felt something on the small of my back. I assumed it was Matt and turned to give him a little kiss on the cheek. To my surprise, it was not Matt, but rather the audio guy hooking up my mic pack, who was probably also more than a little surprised when I almost gave him a kiss.
In addition to having Matt and the girls from the CLNYC audience behind me, I had Kenna sitting right next to me. She is the type of person you’d want next to you before you ever have to do anything scary. Leading up to my talk she gave me little hugs, and words of encouragement. It was totally surreal! Kenna who is normally on my computer in my living room was now hugging me! Then before I knew it, it was time for me to go on. Hearing Kevin Kubota introduce me was wild, and I loved his commentary of “over 100,000 pins on Pinterest, ouch that has got to hurt!” Matt, not the audio guy, gave me a little squeeze again, and then I was up. It was real. It was time to go. The welcome the crowd gave me was phenomenal. The cheers and screams made me have a little insight into what it must feel like to be a rock star. With the energy they gave me, every worry I had went right out the door. As previous ignite speakers had told me, the time up there just flew by. You can’t believe you are already on the next slide. But you just keep going. For a brief moment I got a little tongue tied when I looked out and saw how many people were in the audience, but then I remembered Julia’s advice, and just brought my gaze back to the CLNYC girls. Voila, problem solved. Thank you soooo much ladies! The slide advanced again, and bam, I was done! Totally impromptu, I did a happy dance, moonwalked off stage right, and then was joined by Kevin Kubota for some hip bumps. To say it was an AWESOME experience REALLY doesn’t capture it.
After I gave my talk I was able really enjoy the remaining ignite talks. I loved hearing Kenna and Susan’s journey that lead them to CreativeLIVE. Lindsey Adler threw down some crazy amounts of knowledge in a mere 5 minutes on lighting. And Sue Bryce was the perfect grand finale with her trademark sense of humor. If she ever gets tired of photography she could easily have a one-woman show that would sell out every night.
Once the broadcast ended, they had a lovely cocktail hour at the studio and an after party for the speakers and their guests. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with the Photographers Ignite audience members and speakers and was beyond thrilled that they had enjoyed my talk and some had even found it very helpful. It was a total dream come true! But what was even more exciting was what happened after Ignite. It turned out Ignite trended #1 on Twitter! I now had people tweeting out quotes from my talk and following me on twitter. People were writing me about how my talk had inspired them and completely changed the way they were going to do their business. Being able to help people all over the world was by far and away the greatest reward of doing Photographers Ignite. Kevin Kubota, thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me to speak, and giving me this outstanding opportunity.
If you enjoyed my talk and want to hear more, please suggest me as a CreativeLIVE instructor. I’d love to give a workshop on how to start your photography business from scratch. I’d cover incorporation, online proofing and sales, business models for photography, types of photography jobs, how to get on the job experience, creating your brand, basic wordpress website design, acquisition of new gear, insurance, accounting, sales tax, portfolio creation, portfolio curation, utilizing social media, finding clients, and advertising.