Skype Call with Jill Conley
I have one last shout out that I want to talk to somebody, I feel like this week I have accurately communicated, hopefully, technique and posing. And I've accurately communicated what attracts me so much to the brand that I shoot in terms of I get to connect with women and more people, and I get to have a conversation that I love to have, a conversation that is about being a better person, and it's a conversation about loving yourself and all that. I get that, I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry. So I really love having that conversation. That conversation is important to me, and I know that somehow I must have struck a chord because after my first Creative Live I got so many stories, just stories, long, beautiful stories. You know, just people telling me, that just, I can't believe what these people are writing me. I'm a complete stranger. I read every single one. I got over 12,000 emails sent from the last five and a half months and I read every single one. I am unable physica...
lly now to respond to them. And yet there is not a day that goes by that I don't read an email in my inbox. So if you send me one, and it always starts with I hope you don't think I'm a stalker, or you'll probably never read this, or I know you're getting assaulted by thousands of emails, but I want you to start the next email with, I know you're gonna read this, and I might not get a reply, but I still know that this is going to fall on your ears. Because I read every single one, and they just move the hell out of me. So last night, I was working with Simona and we were talking about the program today and what we can give and how we're Photoshopping and how we can give that as a gift. I got an email from Nikki Clausser, and Nikki actually lives in Tiero, and you might know that name because Nikki auditioned for the Chet House so she would have been live on the Chet House day. Is that correct?
She was and she was also in our Joe Businck workshop. She was one of the models, she was one of the, I think a a bridesmaid.
Okay, so Nikki Clausser is a Seattle photographer. She's a startup business, isn't she? New to boudoir and glamour at least. Nikki sent me an email. Nikki's best friend is going through something right now and she asked me two things. She said, she told me this story and she said that she would do anything to get me to photograph her friend. And I can't do it because I'm fully booked and I've promised other people. So I read the email, and what struck me about the email was not the story because I've read stories, lots of beautiful stories, but what struck me so beautifully about this email is that her friend Jill is currently going through something as a young woman that she shouldn't have to go through, and the thing that really hit it home for me was that she said not only would she do anything for me to photograph her, but Nikki had just photographed Jill, and she said if you can't photograph her I want you to critique the images that I've taken of her. Because what's important is that Jill wants her story to be told, so this is not about anything other than Jill. So I've got Jill on Skype because I want to talk to her.
Let me just make sure that we are ready. Are we ready?
I'm so sorry Jill, I know you're probably watching live and I'm making a mess of this already.
We might be a little bit early on the time that we told her but I think they're going to.
That's okay I'm going to keep talking about Jill.
I really want Jill to talk about where she's at right now. But basically, Nikki took a photograph of Jill, like a boudoir shoot, and she wanted to take a shot that was honest and yet could maybe be used for a publication because Jill would like her story to be told to the world. When I saw it, my first thought was unfortunately I am unable to photograph or fly to Kentucky and photograph Jill right now for where she's at. So, I just wanted to bring Jill on so that she could talk to you guys. Hopefully we can send a message out there that Jill wants to be told.
We are ready for the Skype call if you are.
I think my greatest gratitude today is that all week I keep feeling like I'm in a Oprah session and yet, the truth is, my life is a bit of an Oprah session so I'm kind of okay with it. I feel like everybody really got the fact that I really like to connect with people in this way, and that I feel incredibly blessed that I get the opportunity to do that. I'd just like to say from the bottom of my heart thank you so much for allowing me to share that part of who I am and what I do. Because it might not be what you introduce into your portrait business but it's been a really big part of my journey as a woman, and a person, and a human being, and a photographer, that I get to give this gift of beauty to people.
So I think they're probably, oh here we go, here we go.
Hi, how are you?
I'm good thank you, you can see me on the Skype cam?
Yes I can, can you see me?
Yes I can. It's so lovely to meet you.
Where are you calling from, Jill?
I'm in Louisville, Kentucky.
Cool, do you know that your friend Nikki emailed me last night?
Oh yes. I couldn't sleep last night ever since she called me.
So I wanted to bring you on the show so that I could do two things. One of them was talk to you about where you're at and why you want to come on the show, because I would like to do something for you today.
Well, actually I wanted to come on the show. And first of all, this is a huge honor that I'm on the show and to meet you and I've met the producer of the show and they were awesome. Anyways, I just wanted to get my story out because when I was 32 I was diagnosed with Stage Four breast cancer so I had to go through the most intense, grueling chemo and unfortunately I lost my hair, my eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails, toenails. Then I had to do radiation and then I had to do a double mastectomy, and then, unfortunately, the radiation caused such a huge hole in my left side so they had to take my left implant out so right now I only have my fake implant on my right side. About six months ago, I felt like I broke a rib so I went to my oncologist and they told me, unfortunately, that my breast cancer metastasized into my breast again but this time it was in my sternum and it was Stage Four bone cancer and it was incurable this time. Right now I'm on chemo that I take daily, and they have given me a shot called Lupron and it's put me into menopause. I just want to get my story out because I just feel, with women my age, when you look at magazines and all that, they don't embrace, you know, I just feel like people think you can't feel beautiful and sexy having breast cancer or having breasts that don't look like what you look like in magazines and stuff. So, I just wanted to get the story out to young women, older women, anybody that's going through this just to let them know that you can still be beautiful and sexy and still have breast cancer. So that was my whole thing that I wanted to get out. I feel like God gave this to me for a purpose and I feel like this is my purpose. To just get my story out and help women all around the world.
Oh, Jill. (both laughing) The question I wanted to ask you was, can I show the photos that Nikki took of you because I think they're beautiful.
One hundred percent.
The boys have loaded them because they let you send them to them, so I would like to, the screen is gonna flip for a minute and I want to show the image that was sent to me that Nikki wanted me to critique. Isn't she beautiful? Nikki is new to boudoir photography, but she has done a beautiful job of shooting you. Of course, I wanted to do two things, one of them was, you can go back to Jill please, Mike. I wanted to do two things, Jill. One of them was, you said you wanted this story to be told so I've done a shout out with CreativeLive and we've got a little plan for you to try and get your message out there. So I want to call any videographers any body who wants to, or writers--
Are you okay?
Sorry, oh yeah, I'm fine. (laughing) Or anybody that wants to help share this story. Magazines, or anything like that. Because you do have such a brave beautiful story and it's one that I'd love to tell. I would love to photograph you more than anything in the world. I would feel the greatest honor. (laughs) Help me out here, people. Jill, in two weeks time I have a 10 day holiday booked for the first time in four years and I looked at my schedule and I saw that holiday and I thought, right, I've got a holiday and I've got 10 days. This is the most amount of gratitude a human being can have. I won a trip to Paris because I'm the Australian portrait photographer of the year, which is the greatest honor for me.
One of the prizes for me was to go to Paris for 10 days. How lucky am I to win a trip to Paris? I would like to take you to Paris with me, and I'd like to photograph you in Paris.
Are you kidding me?
No. And I asked Nikki if she'd like to come too because she is your best friend and she can assist us. (crying) I'm going to bring back your shoot and I'm going to hopefully find somebody that can write your story really really beautifully so that you can share it with everyone. But would you like to come to Paris with me?
Let me think about that, um, yeah! Are you kidding me? I would be honored. Like honored. I feel like God. Pinch me am I dreaming?
I was just saying to my friends the other day I can't believe I'm going to Paris on my own. So now I'm not going on my own.
Now I'm going with two fabulous women, and I am gonna do everything that I can for you to shout that out because I watched... I watched a dear friend go through this. You're just such a beautiful and inspiring woman, and I think you're really brave. I hope that everyone hears that message that you've just got to love everything you've got no matter what.
Sue, I feel like you are an angel that God sent to me. I'm speechless I feel like I might have even peed myself. (laughing)
I started to talk to the girls this afternoon. I talked to Kenna. Kenna was telling me something at the break before we started talking, that breast cancer is a big part of your family.
Yes, on both sides of my family. My father's sister Renee, we lost three years ago. Actually, just about now. Three years ago. She had beat breast cancer at one time and then had a single mastectomy and then it came back. And we lost her the second time around. And on my mom's side, my Aunt Kathy when she was my age she had breast cancer the first time and had a single mastectomy. And then 20 years later had got it again and had another mastectomy but she is a survivor. She's retired and her entire life is doing all kinds of breast cancer walks and just so much about spreading the word and celebrating women who are survivors, but also spreading the word and raising money and funding for cancer research. I would have to bet that probably every single person in this room is touched somehow, someway, by breast cancer.
So Jill, I couldn't think of anything better than taking you to Paris with me.
Oh my god.
I just think I was the luckiest person to win a trip and I couldn't think of anyone that I would rather take with me. It would be my honor to do a beautiful photo shoot. I've always dreamed of doing a photo shoot in Paris, and I get to do it with you.
I wanna give you the world's biggest hug and kiss.
Thank you so much too. I'm gonna do everything in my power for you to get what you want out there because it's really really important. It sends so many messages in so many different directions about what we are and what we have and you do it really graciously. Thank you for picking me to be your photographer.
Sue, thank you so much. You made all of my dreams come true and you're going to touch so many women's lives. You have no idea. You are going to touch so many people's lives. I'm speechless. I love you. Thank you.
I'll see you in Paris?
Oui oui! (laughing)
I don't get the opportunity to help everybody. It's just something you, it came up, and it was right there, and I just thought about it and I thought I can't photograph this girl. I don't have the time to do it. And now I get to take her to Paris and I would like to be able to bring that back and share that story with the CreativeLivers so that the people watching now can see that and see her beautiful shoot and celebrate that. I couldn't think of anything I would rather do in Paris. (clapping)
Sue, we continue to just be blown away by you. It's give, give, give, give. I said this to you earlier. Sue Bryce practices what she preaches. It's just an inspiration. There are so many people in the chat rooms who are responding and crying, and in addition to people who are saying that they know people, or maybe even they themselves would love to help tell Jill's story. I just checked with some folks, and if you are one of those people the people who have mentioned that already you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will collect those and forward them along and see where to go with that. Please go ahead and reach out to email@example.com.
32 is too young, 32 is too young. Three months after she was married. To find out that you have to fight that sort of fight.
Awareness, education, love.
My second cousin, actually, who lives in Louisville, is the same age and was just diagnosed with Stage Four as well, and bone cancer, and--
It's too young.
So my week has been very intense. Sometimes it takes me a week to prepare a two-hour keynote when I stand up on stage like at WPPI because I don't want to stand up on stage and talk about myself. I want to try and teach as much as I can in a very short amount of time. I'm not a natural presenter because, up until three years ago, I thought that this would be inconceivable to me, inconceivable. And yet I always used to have this weird fantasy that I was sitting in front of people with a microphone. Just because I thought it was inconceivable that I'd ever be standing in front of people talking doesn't mean that I didn't dream secretly of doing it in some way. Because I've never been short of something to say. My family will tell you that. My dad said that I could say the alphabet at eighteen months old and I never shut up ever since then. And I would just like to say that coming here and educating online has been one of the most incredible experiences because I don't wanna teach workshops. It's not my thing to teach workshops. I know that it would be really great if I announced workshops all around the world and everybody could come, too. I love doing presentations. I take these times to try and give you as much information as I can. Over a concentrated period of time. I just love this company that has supported me. CreativeLive. I find it really easy to come here and do this. I would love to bring Hailey Bartholomew back so that I can teach you viral marketing video show reels. How to edit, and how to do that from the basic level ground up because it can really change and invite more work into your business and make that work. Really, what it comes down to, I said it the first time, it's more true for me now than it was even six months ago, everything, every success you have comes from gratitude. Stop being why me and start being grateful for what you have. Once you start doing that, everything just turns around. Teaching photography, or teaching portrait photographers how to be better business people, and better photographers, is such an easy, cool thing to do. It's been really, really enjoyable. Photographing women is an easy, cool thing to do. I think that I am about the luckiest girl on the planet right now. Sorry if I made you cry.
Could I ask you one more question?
From the internet, from Alan Burke. Sue, so many people see themselves reflected in you and share in your creative and personal journey which transcends the photographic medium. As you move forward to new challenges, where do see it all leading for you? What is the ultimate connection you are chasing?
The ultimate connection that I am chasing, Alan, is joy. I decided that nothing in this world that you can create is ever, ever as great as a feeling of joy that goes through your soul. And whatever that joy is, whatever that feeling is that makes you feel joy, embrace it and hold onto it as often as you can whether it's your family, or your children, or your friends. You can source joy from just about anywhere. But from this day forth, in my life when I meet people like Jill, when I meet people like all of you guys, everybody has a story. I will seek in every part of my life to try and find joy in what I do. And if there is no joy in what you are doing, do something else. Just stop doing what you don't want to do anymore. Nothing will happen to you, I guarantee it. Because the best thing you can ever do is to remove yourself from not liking something. If there's somebody in your life, whatever it is, actively seek anything that brings you joy. Whatever that is on any level. Work from a place of joy. Give as much as you can, but it all starts with gratitude. End of story.
I love it. I'm really excited to watch you on your journey.
Thank you. It's not a new journey so much as it's the same journey. It just seems that now I am on a stage so everybody sort of can hear me talk. I find it so odd, it's quite bizarre.
I have one question.
What is your favorite flavor ice cream? Just wondering.
I don't eat ice cream.
I thought you would say that, I really did.
Yeah, I thought you might. What flavor drink then can I buy you afterwards? (laughing) I think you're the only other woman besides my wife that I'm in bed with, and she's alright with that.
He'll tell you she's the only woman where you can doodle her name and it's okay.
And it's okay, over and over?
Exactly. Gabe I love.
He has done that one.
I drink Veuve Clicquot.
French champagne would be nice.
Okay we can do that.
I've wrapped up early because I sat here a bawling mess. Wow, five days, five days. Five days is just gone like that. Five days. I don't think there's any more in terms of what I do, other than you just practicing it. You know what I mean? Just practice practice and please just go for it. Stay in touch, stay connected via social media. I'll still try and keep giving more. If more comes up I'll give a little bit more and see how we go. And good luck. I throw that challenge out for you to be better than me. Better and better and better and better on ever level. I throw that out to everybody. I just wish you all the best and thank you so much for listening to me for five days. I put a couple of camera men to sleep. (laughs) That's alright, lullaby. Thanks for listening to this Kiwi accent from all around the world if you're not Kiwis. Thank you so much for your support and thank you so much to Creative Live. (clapping)