I had the joy and honor to work alongside General Micheal Hayden last night at the 2018 SWLA Chamber Banquet. This guy was pretty kicka$$. His long list of impressive credentials go on for days; but it was more than that which caught my attention: The kind demeanor and almost gratuitous conversation and etiquette he gave through his conversation alongside the care he took with every handshake, and picture request was what was so inspiring...
I arrived an hour early to the Golden Nugget's event area to set up in the two locations I'd be spending the next four hours in between (on stage & in a secondary exclusive book signing and meet-up room for their cocktail hour with the guest speaker). On the table within the room were stacks of beautiful hard back books. In my past experience, it is communicated by the hosting party or the speaker's reps brought in for such commercial events that everything must be done involving images as quickly as possible. Nothing new for myself and my long list of experiences with such events, so I kept under the assumption tonight would be no different.
As General Hayden came in, with an already full room of guests awaiting his arrival, I jumped right in organizing everyone and keeping them lined up and "ready to roll", allotting about 10 seconds per image. As I introduced myself and guided him to his mark in front of the background, I'd already picked up on his casual, calm manner within an excitedly busy room of well dressed guests and fans. He didn't rush forward. Or even brush off the pulled aside conversations that had already begun as he came in. But rather stopped and shook the hands, and contently introduced himself in response to every guest (even as we all well knew his name)!
I moved everyone through, assuring we had enough time so no guest was left out within this secondary room, still leaving enough time for book signings. He took care to ask if there was any specific names or spellings, even when the book receiver was trying respectively to settle for only his name hand written within the cover. General Hayden calmly stayed ready for anyone that might pop into the room delayed and looked to CEO George Swift and myself to let him know when he should head into the main ballroom for the banquet chapter of the night to begin.
This may sound "normal." "Why would a paid speaker do anything different?" you may ask...
Evolution is imminent. Whether it's with our geography, quality of our national news interest, or in this case, our expectations of how someone should hold themselves, no matter how SMALL or BIG they are viewed within their invisible, social, and/or intellectual capital. So with the vast experiences I've had photographing countless notable people within these types of social events, I always go in assuming a few key theories:
- They don't have a lot of time.
- The event doesn't have a lot of time.
- The guests happily have all the time in the world.
- The photographs become the pride and joy of the event but the notable guest doesn't have the time to create them.
I already could tell, with still three hours left, that this man was holding himself differently.
The event began, the awards were awarded, and then we had General Hayden's speaking time. President Swift closed out the banquet and, being a non-weekend Tuesday night, I assumed the 1200 attendants would scurry out, eager to get home. I'd also assumed, based on virtually EVERY OTHER EVENT, that General Hayden would obligately stay until George left too - the final informal closing of the night. But I waited. I held back on breaking down my equipment now that my time was typically done. I'd seen the difference in him earlier and was curious how he was about to handle the long line that immediately formed up to his dinner chair on stage. George and he even struggled a bit to squeeze in a cordial handshake before departing, as the kind but VERY excited attendants were already surrounding the General with their books and phone cameras in hand.
ME: How long, General Hayden, would you like to stay for these extra pictures, if at all? I can help with your departure by providing a cutoff.
GenH: Thank you! But no need. As long as you're willing to stay, too to get a professional picture with me, I'll be right here until I've met with everyone who wants to come up.
ME: Well okay then!
**Insert happily blown away face here.**
And so we did.
Thirty minutes later, I had a full card of images, snapped countless guest phone pics too, and we shook hands and both agreed it was now time for a well deserved beer to close out the night. We were some of the last to leave the ballroom that had just been filled to the brim minutes before.
The man took pride in his evening. He was contently ready to go above what was formally asked of him. You could FEEL it and SEE it. It was beautifully apparent. Inspirational and thought provoking.
His DEMEANOR was what out-shined his long list of uber-impressive credentials. And his intellectual capital.
The fact that he was so different within last night's time spent at the Banquet left me driving home wondering:
Is it really such an EPIC thing to see such a vast difference in last night's event?
Is it the EVOLUTION of our expectations, through what we've been trained to experience/accept, that have been so altered that we are no longer disappointed when others abide by the modern listed rules of engagement when with their audience? When we show admiration and excitement to those we look up to, wouldn't it be GRAND to receive a form of the same in return??
If General Hayden's intent was to create an even larger fan base of his thoughts, ideas, book buyers, and CNN watchers by speaking.... he has absolutely succeeded in gaining at least one new REALLY BIG FAN.
I''ve been told I need to blog... and I feel somehow it's true. If it weren't for the source of this advice, I most probably wouldn't listen. However, it's myself. My own mind and intuition has been telling me that perhaps a blog is where the you NOW fits into the web world.
Almost a decade ago, only a few years into my career as a professional photographer, before facebook and instagram and snapchat and twitter, I started a blog. It was when myspace was THE thing to do - the only thing outside of a website - a place where one could connect words and their very own thoughts with their work. A marriage of sorts: between my website filled with work and only a handful of words written for our target audience and the 100% personal side of myspace (which didn't last for long- it felt sort of empty and weird spending time there). I enjoyed blogging then, at first. But I'd allowed it to evolve into another business obligation. Filled with keywords and tags as the world of blogging turned into a secondary business obligation website of sorts. After a few years, and with the birth of facebook and the new need to create a business facebook page took priority, in addition to adding kids to my personal life, my blog was left to fall away into internet oblivion.
Over the last several years, like every other person within our world, I have changed and evolved, as has my wants and needs in both my career, role as a parent, as well as my involvement within the social media world.
My spiritual journey throughout 2016 & 2017 has been by far my greatest and most wonderful ACCIDENTAL personal achievement! As more time passes in our life, we realize all of those cliche words of wisdom have become cliche for a reason! "You have to fall ALL the way down to realize all you are and all you have. There lies determination, ambition, the TRUE addictive feeling of compassion and what your strengths and loves in life really are." (Or something like that.)
I've found mine. I've found a bountiful amount of it all! Gratitude has become my BACKBONE of daily living... and I'm so thankful for it!!! ;)
I say all this to communicate my interesting observation: As I "dropped off the social media earth" which was a natural act as I'd retreated into myself during the second part of 2016, I found even more of myself. "The power was within you all along... you just have to FIND it." Yep. That's the damned truth too! The guidance & advice we seek, the push to become "unstuck" in certain chapters of our lives, our true wants and goals in every subject of our daily and yearly lives.... all of those answers are ALWAYS with us! It's a matter of allowing enough stillness, enough self-interest and opening our ears wide ENOUGH to listen to our own hearts... to hear the answers we spend countless hours and dollars looking everywhere else in the world for.
So... the question is: Have I gone deep enough, practiced that daily long enough to be able to now come "out" enough to be able to blog?
Can I take what I THOUGHT was the definition of blogging and truly redefine it enough to make it my own? Can I allow a blog to be only what I'd love for it to be? Can a commercial photographer, business owner, mother of two, shape this space within the web world to be what I love enough to dedicatedly allow words to flow and connect it back to my images I continue to create in a way where I'm no longer "dropped off the social media world map"? But staying within myself and my own thoughts as to keep the sacred love and beauty of thoughts and connections not fully connected to a facebook-esque look-at-what-I-think side of expression?
The inner me says yes.
The artist within me constantly battles with not ever hitting "publish" on something until it's perfect. Just right. No weird rambles. No misspellings or areas where the reader/viewer may become bored. "Maybe I should proofread it one more time" I'd think - while awake in the middle of the night - before posting... "Or perhaps I'll just scratch the whole thing and start over and I'll share THEN."
But who says this blog has to be that too?! It's a struggle within myself AGAINST MYSELF. And maybe the blog is just enough in the middle- between my website and my talkative happily scatterbrained personality I am in person- to ALLOW the mistakes, the rambles, and the thoughts to just..... FLOW.
And... I still read and re-read... but I posted! ;) #Babysteps
Check this out!
Great recent examples of marketing images created for local as well as international industrial businesses. Click to view larger. Visit more of my commercial work by visiting our main site, www.ljpcommercial.com
We are in the final steps of completing a recent project with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and Pomarico Design Studio. (You can view more of their work here.)
I enjoy photographing the modern yet mid-century boldness of the clean lines and simple yet comfortable textures that seem to be coming back more lately in building design, even here in Southwest Louisiana.
Click on the images to view larger. Also, to see a complete list of our commercial services, visit our full website at www.LJPcommercial.com!