Embracing the Unique
Why can't we embrace everything that makes us unique and stand out? Why do you we feel like we must go with the grain versus against the grain? So, I'll just be vulnerable with you, in front of you about me to encourage you to do the same. Not live, you don't have to do this live but, (audience laughs) just in your own business. So, I had this picture made not too long ago. Right in between miscarriages. nd this is Luis Garvan, he has photographed me before. I highly suggest if you ever get the chance to be photographed by him, he's from Mexico but he's brilliant. And the photos he made the first time around of me were, like really beautiful and there was a lot of life to me and when I saw these photos, there was a sense of loss in the photos but I like it because it reminds me of what I was going through at that time. And this is where I was at at that time. This photo resonates with me as being me even though I'm usually a very upbeat, happy person this was a harder time in my life. ...
So we have to look at me as a baby. I did look like a Troll Doll and I'm pretty sure my kid is going to come out looking like a monkey just like I did. But my Mom said that I was the easiest baby ever. Thank God. And that I never cried. Please let this pass on. And I was such a good sleeper that she'd have to wake me up to feed me because I just wanted to sleep all the time. That is still, to this day... I can take a nap, I could take a nap right here in front of all of you and I would not care at all. As a kid, I was very venturous with my eating, so Mom never worried about what she put in front of me so I was eating matzo ball soup. Very Jewy thing to eat (laughs). My family's Jewish so they make matzo balls and most kids would turn their nose up at it but I... Mom never had a problem. She could do anything with my hair that she wanted to I was just kind of, go with the flow. I wasn't like normal kids where, we'll talk about this more. Like girls don't like their hair brushed or pulled, they say it hurts really bad, and I was never like that. So from the time I was little, obviously I had a lot of hair also, since you could put curlers in it. My best friend growing up was Heidi, my Grandma's dog. And to this day like, I think I love animals more than people. My husband complains about it often, that I love the dog more than him. It's not true. I love them equally. (audience laughs) I was always the kid that dressed like nobody else dressed. I had an attitude and a persona and I was most beautiful, my most attractive error in my life was when I was about 13 years old. (audience laughs) Anybody that grew up in the 80's, we all were very capable of the double roll, hair sprayed, curling iron effect. Where you did one roll on top, one roll on the top and then with hairspray in hand you would brush and spray at the same time. But my love for animals never went away. When I got to high school, I had a really hard time. I didn't have a lot of friends. I remember my first day of high school, I walked in and the girls laughed as I walked to my seat because of what I was wearing, or whatever. And my Mom, she's watching, she would always just make excuses, cuz she she didn't know better. She'd just be like, "Oh, she's a dancer," or, "She's an artist, you know how it was." But to me it was, making excuses for me rather than saying, we love that that she, like is experimental with what she wears and she doesn't want to wear what everybody else wears. That wasn't her fault. But it did make an impression and an affect on me as a kid that I always had to be excused for. I couldn't be embraced, like Jackson. So, I wasn't raised like Jackson where all of that stuff was really embraced and encouraged. Mom didn't know any better, she just made excuses for it. However, I was lucky enough to go to a magnet school, so I found art and theater and I found other people that were just like me, like-minded and that really helped me settle in. And so I joined theater and I did theater all through high school as well as the art program. And it gave me this wonderful opportunity to be really... express myself and experiment with being other... pretending to be other people. Theater kind of is just like childhood make-believe. Only you get to do it on stage and sometimes you can swear and make people laugh, right? It's fun. And as an adult, I've been so sad that I haven't been able to do theater because of the schedule that it usually requires but that's why, I've embraced speaking and teaching a lot because it's kind of like that. I get a chance to speak in front of people and make them laugh, and entertain them. I also was, early on a humanitarian. So this was a trip that I took when I was 16. Habitat for Humanity. We built a bunch of houses there. In high school, senior year in high school, I (laughs) our group of friends didn't decide to just do the norm and go to prom. No, we had to dress up in different time periods. (audience laughs) I'm right there. My date is the flaming gay guy with top hat and the cape in the back. And when he walked in to pick me up, at my house, in front of my family, he like walked in the door and he goes... "I'm here!" And my Mom was like, "I think we need to try and get you dating some straight boys." (audience laughs) It's like, Mom he's not straight and I'm not dating him. I just couldn't find anybody else to go to prom with, so I went with Leo. And he was a good friend of mine, so. That's carried onto me as an adult so I was a dancer also. So this is at Foundation. We'd decided to bring our group country line dancing, which I had to lead. I do a lot of work with animal stills. This is my Mom and I in Africa. Working with the giraffes there. We were just recently in New Zealand, my poor husband, and Jeanette, and Tristan were driving along the coastline and I just screamed, stop the car! And I saw all these sea lions, like on the shore. And I don't even think the car was actually stopped. I just jumped out and plummeted down this hill, rocks flying everywhere, I didn't grab my camera. And then I just sat. They're like, "What are you doing?" Like, "I don't even think you're supposed to be close to wildlife like that that!" And I just sat amongst a bunch of seals, sea lions for literally like an hour, I didn't leave. I was originally a marine biology major. This is me with my nephew. Early on I loved kids too. This is when I lived in Mexico and I was working in an orphanage there shooting and working and volunteering. And I haven't changed much, like I'm still... This is from my wedding. And I'm still like, the same person I was as a kid all growing up. My Mom made my wedding dress. I didn't have any details when the wedding coordinator asked me what my colors were. I was like, my eyes? I don't know what you're asking me. I don't have colors. I've always gone against the grain and just... As I've gotten older, especially like close to 40, I just have embraced who I am. And it is who I am. I have mouth like a truck driver, which is a very big concern for CreativeLive, and I'm (laughs) I try very hard to like, rein that in like when I taught kindergarten first grade. I say things that are inappropriate most of the time. I have no fashion sense whatsoever. And I'm, just okay with it. And I'm just genuinely a happy person and I'm okay with all of those things. And sometimes I'm silly and sometimes people will tell me to quiet down. And it just is what it is. So I've embraced that with my business too. Rather than fighting against or trying to blend in or be somebody that I'm not, I've just realized I should just be me because once I started being me out in public, with speaking and photography, that's when I started to get noticed. Not when I was a wedding photographer and I was trying to make photos like everybody else. It was when I finally was like, eh screw it. I'm just gonna be me and see how that works out. If you haven't seen it, you can search it and I think there's a link for it on my website. My very first outing publicly was WPPI when I did Photographers Ignite, it's five minute talk. And my friend signed me up for it and I was like, I don't, what? I don't wanna do this. And she goes, "You can talk about anything, it just has to have something to do with photography." And this was in front of, like 2000 people that I'm... I don't know anyone, I don't go to WPPI. Like, I'd only gone one other time. And so I was single and online dating at the time. So, I decided to talk about how awful people's profile photos were online dating. And that is what launched my career publicly because I think I was the first one to drop the f-bomb ever on WPPI stage and everyone was like, Whoa. And I didn't talk about pretty portraits or getting wedding clients. I talked about how I was internet dating and that guys with rifles and black eyes were trying to get me to go out with them. But because I just trusted my gut, and went with who I was, it actually worked in my favor.