*Breaking the Silence: From Behind the Lens to Center Stage*
As a professional maternity photographer based in Northern Virginia, my world has revolved around capturing and preserving the most intimate moments in the lives of expecting parents for more than 7 years. However, there comes a time when the camera takes a backseat, and it’s your voice that steps into the limelight. This is the story of my exhilarating journey from behind the lens to the center stage – my first experience speaking at a conference.
Public speaking was a realm I had only admired from afar. The idea of sharing my insights, experiences, and passions with a live audience was both thrilling and nerve-wracking. As someone who can talk about business for hours, the prospect of standing in front of a diverse crowd, including fellow photographers and entrepreneurs, brought a unique set of challenges and excitement.
Enter The Photo Cookout speaker application! It’s 2022 and I was speaking with a peer about the desire to finally take the step to share my voice. What would I even speak about? My peers had been so supportive, encouraging me to trust my intuition! Fast forward to April 2023, the speaker list came out and my heart burst when I learned that I would be speaking alongside some of the most respected and sought after speakers in my industry! Honored was an understatement.
My presentation was called Avoiding Burnout: Boundaries and Best Practices for a Better Business! I embraced the vulnerability, recognizing that the authenticity of my experience would resonate with the audience. Like capturing an unposed moment, genuine connection with the audience required stepping out of my comfort zone. As newbies and veteran photographers nodded in support and agreement during my presentation, my nerves settled.
As a mother of four, I drew upon the parallels of juggling family life with a thriving photography business. Encouraging my peers and aspiring photographers alike to set their business up to support their dream lifestyle was the ultimate moment of a dream realized.
Just as in photography, the unscripted moments often turn out to be the most memorable. Questions from the audience opened doors to unexpected discussions, creating a dynamic dialogue that enriched the entire experience. These unscripted interactions became the candid shots of my speaking journey – raw, authentic, and unfiltered. Sharing the good, bad and ugly of running a business, solo was refreshing and enlightening for the audience! My heart was full!
As the applause echoed throughout the room, I realized that my first experience as a speaker marked not just the end of a presentation but the beginning of a new chapter. The stage had transformed from an intimidating space to a platform for sharing, learning, and connecting.
In conclusion, my foray into public speaking was not just a professional milestone but a personal triumph. From the lens to the podium, the journey was a testament to the transformative power of embracing the unknown, stepping into vulnerability, and connecting authentically with others. As I return to the familiar embrace of my camera, I carry with me the lessons learned and the memories created on that stage – a reminder that sometimes, the most profound moments are found outside the frame.