This past weekend I gave a TEDx talk in Austin. A twelve-minute talk that I spent months preparing for. When they invited me to speak in August I was excited, but almost instantly filled with anxiety. Some of my favorite words of inspiration over the past few years have come from TED talks I’ve seen: Brené Brown, Eve Ensler and Jill Bolte Taylor to name a few.
As the weeks passed and February 11th got closer and closer, my stress grew and grew. And then, when I arrived in Austin last Friday, I was greeted with such enthusiasm and excitement from the entire TEDx team. They are all warm and supportive.
On Saturday, just before lunch, I got up in front of a group of about 400 people, plus a worldwide online audience of many thousands more. I planted my feet firmly, took a deep breath, looked the crowd dead center and went for it.
For 12 minutes I gave the audience my stories of connection through food via my travels on photography assignments. I gave them my heart in the form of words through storytelling. I gave them my integrity through showing my photographs and I gave them my enthusiasm and love for capturing human moments.
I took the audience on a journey, telling them about what I have learned about life from behind the lens and by photographing human connection.
When I walked off that stage after a huge exhale, I realized something: My life, all this work, travel and photography have led me to something far greater than I could have ever imagined. It is far more enriching and fulfilling than just photographing stories and travelling. It’s been an incredible opportunity to encourage people and to remind them to believe to dream and to put one foot in front of the other and just try.
I consider this TED talk to be my greatest honor and I just wanted to acknowledge my family, friends and mentors. These are the people who, throughout my career, have kicked my butt, been brutally honest and just given me a minute to be heard, seen and considered.
Without you, I wouldn’t be here. Thank you.
My TED talk with be available on YouTube in the next 10 days. I’ll keep you all posted when it is live.