Everyone has a hero. Some of us are lucky enough to know our heroes personally. The rest of us admire them from afar. At this stage of my life, I no longer sing “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia” into a hairbrush every day after school, but when presented with the opportunity to meet the woman who’s been my hero for the past two years I squealed like a middle school girl all over again. If you’ve been photographed by me or even merely spoken to me about my business since the beginning, I’ve undoubtedly talked about this woman, Sue Bryce.
Stumbling across an online photography class she was teaching two years ago completely changed my life. Because of that class, I decided to drop all other endeavors and pursue a career in photography. Since then I’ve amassed a library of her online courses and followed her teachings closely through Facebook and her web site. Sue is to me at 33 what Reba was at 13, and so much more. Her work is beautiful, but she is also the Oprah Winfrey of photography in many ways. Entirely self-made, Sue teaches the technical aspects of photographing women, the business side, AND the personal side. I could go on and on about how much I admire her personally and enjoy learning from her, but I will stop here tell you about my recent trip to New York, where I got to meet Sue.
I’d never been to the Big Apple, nor had I left my kiddos for a whole week, so this trip was full of firsts. I attended a photography conference at a large convention center in Manhattan, and studied directly under some HUGE names in the photography industry. I’m still completely stars struck by the whole experience.
Ok I learned a ton from the classes and met some other awesome photographers. The highlight of my trip was of course meeting Sue so let's cut to the chase. My children listen to Sue often as I play her classes constantly. So they made a card for her and I delivered it. If I hadn't just shown you all a picture of me in front of my Reba shrine in middle school, I'd be too embarrassed to tell you that I also made this sash full of memes I've created and posted in Sue's closed Facebook group (called In Bed With Sue). I'll just leave it at that. You've undoubtedly seen them if you follow me on Instagram. I'm silly. You all know this. So I got some clear buttons and printed these memes and assembled them before my flight, and then just before I got in line to meet Sue, I ran to the restroom, pinned this sash to my dress, and covered it up with a jacket. As I'm typing this I still can't believe I actually went through with it.
It's strange - "knowing" someone from online interaction and having a hunch your humor will be well-received is VERY different from standing in front of your hero wearing a sash full of memes. After sweating profusely and trembling in line for 30 minutes, it was finally my turn to meet her. I didn't know what to say, so I began by handing Sue the card from my kiddos. Of course she was very gracious and said she'd like to frame the card along with artwork she'd received from other children. In my desperate nervousness to segue somehow to the meme sash I was wearing under my jacket and just GET IT OVER WITH, my brain latched on to her comment about framing the card from my kids. I instantly pulled open my jacket (get ready for the face palm), revealing the meme sash, and said "Can you frame THIS?!" Yes. I did.
I think it took her a second to process what was before her, but once things clicked she laughed, and asked her assistant to take a picture of us. I unpinned the sash from my dress and gave it to her. She asked me to sign the card from my kids and my hands were shaking so fiercely I just couldn't write. We went back by her booth the next day and chatted with her. I was MUCH less nervous. Crazy I am, guys, but I admire this lady so very much. I had to show my gratitude somehow.
I bought Sue's new posing book while standing in line experiencing Sweatfest 2015, and after laughing at the meme gesture she shared some really sincere words with me. She also signed my copy of the posing book.
I'm so thankful for the opportunity to experience New York City, to enrich my career, and to really say "thank you" to someone who has inspired myself and thousands of others. It's great to be back home, and I'm all the more passionate about this journey. Stay tuned. Some HUGE news is coming on Friday! I can hardly keep a lid on it!