Last April I was given the incredible opportunity to speak at Mystic Seminars, a well-known annual wedding photography conference that has been happening since 2005. Upon walking into the downtown Portland Hilton this January and taking several escalators to the conference level, I slowly approached the stage and my heart dropped into my stomach. Not only was this room filled with over 300 incredibly talented creatives, photographers, and like-minded business gurus – the stage was massive: like mini-football stadium massive; ok, maybe not that big, but it sure seemed like it! With black drapes surrounding the raised 1000 foot stage, I swallowed hard and self doubt started to take it’s toll. How could I, a 5’2″ local photographer with no previous speaking experience stand up there in front of all these intelligent people and give my speech? What did I have to share? What if I failed miserably, what if I forgot my presentation and went blank, what if I threw up all over the place?
Needless to say, I spent the next few days practicing, rehearsing, and reminding myself that I’ve been doing this professionally and loving it for over 15 years. I also took the opportunity to learn from best of the best who spoke before me. My time slot was scheduled for the last day of the conference, which also added to the nerves! Some of my all time favorite photographers spoke on the same stage and it was humbling to share the platform with these rock stars of the industry who have been speaking for years, hosting workshops, publishing books, and inspiring thousands. I realized that if I was able to inspire one person, that would be enough to make it all worth it and that was the confidence booster I needed to kick butt and focus on delivering great info on business.
Even though I barely slept the night before my talk, I had practiced so much and felt so ready for it and I did a pretty good job up there! I spoke slowly and confidently, I truly believed in myself and the info I was delivering. I handed out some great freebies, including some of my favorite business books, a huge gift card from an awesome album company, Finao, and incredible software from my sponsor and friends at Fundy. It felt great to give back to the community that has given me so much for over a decade, plus I didn’t puke!
I have now caught the teaching bug and want to share more business insight to help other photographers live their dreams and have successful creative lives. I’m excited for this next chapter of giving back and am now starting to mentor photographers all over the country to help them succeed. Check out pics from the talk and a few slides from my presentation. Please reach out to me if you’re interested in mentorship or if you just want to say hello! hello@jessicahillphotography or follow me on Instagram at @jessicahillphoto – I look forward to connecting!