Develop Wedding Conference 2020 - My experience

Something really cool happened in March so I thought I’d tell you about it.

Back in October I received a text from Kevin Murphy, photographer and organiser of the annual Develop conference for wedding photographers.
He was asking if I would be interested in speaking at the 2020 Develop in Limerick City.

This moment for me was a mixture of excitement, fear and pride, all rolled into one. The very thoughts of standing in front of a bunch of really talented photographers was scary enough, but then delivering a presentation for an hour, nearly sent me over the edge! What if I passed out on stage or forgot what I was going to say. That list of ‘what ifs’ was huge.

Develop is an annual conference for wedding photographers, where 6 speakers talk for an hour each, about something wedding photography related.
I had never attended this before. I had been to BURN in Belfast in 2016 though.
A similar workshop, where Kevin and I met for the first time.
We got chatting about our careers. I was feeling a bit burned out at the time and dying for an injection of creativity and Burn was just what I needed.

This is the beauty of wedding workshops. Full of crazy-talented people, infectiously enthusiastic and eager to learn new things. Add in great speakers, full of knowledge and stories to share.

So I had six months to put something interesting together. Those six months flew by. The first task was to try and practice the speaking part so that I wouldn’t dread the arrival of this workshop. I wanted to be excited about it all instead.
Toastmasters was the first obvious place where I could actually stand up in front of a room and speak. For those of you who have never heard of Toastmasters, it’s an international not for profit educational organisation that teaches people public speaking through a network of clubs. I have a local club and they meet every two weeks. I immediately put myself on the roster for speaking and threw myself into it, scary as it was.

The speeches that you do in these clubs generally last about 5-7 minutes and although they are completely nerve racking, you do get a tiny bit used to feeling the nerves each time you do it. And each time you do it, it gets a tiny bit easier. By the time March rolled around I had a small bit of experience standing up in front of a crowd so when the time came, I felt that I was able to do it.

February went by in a blink and before I knew it March had arrived.
I had prepared a presentation which I felt proud of.

I arrived early on 3rd March and the always-smiling Kevin was there to welcome me. The venue was 101 O Connell Street in Limerick, a really cool, dark space. Picture exposed brick walls, red velvet chairs and over-hanging flowers.
I was first up which was a relief of sorts! At least I could enjoy all the rest of the speakers after mine was over!

My presentation was mainly about my 20 years in business so far.
I wanted to share how I started in 2000 when the world of weddings was very different to how it is now.
I faced some challenges back then with the move from film to digital in 2006 and the recession in 2008.
I spoke about my love for portraiture and how it has helped me keep my work well balanced, avoiding burnout with weddings.

I was very nervous but everyone was so warm and encouraging that I felt like it was a safe space and after a while I relaxed into it.
Kevin presented me with a gorgeous chocolate cake at the end with my NW logo on it, to celebrate my 20 years in business. Such a nice thought!! It was delicious too!!

The feeling afterwards was amazing, what a high!
I was able to really enjoy the other speakers, who gave fantastic, honest and creative presentations throughout the day.

My fellow speakers were –
Kevin Murphy
Aoife O Sullivan
Paul Mongan
Gareth Conlon
Rob Dight

All amazingly talented, warm and generous people.
It was an honour to share the stage with these guys. ♡

Thank you to Darren Kirwan for the brilliant photos!


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