A Week Before

Photographing the Everyday
SPE West Presentation
Academy of Art, San Francisco

I could feel the knot in my stomach when I woke up this morning. The day had come for my first ever presentation to an audience. Earlier in the week, Erika emailed me a link to a picture of the room where the presentations were being held. "It holds up to 75 people." she wrote. Gulp.

T was more nervous for me. "You have to practice!!" she insisted. We purchased a small video camera so that I could record my presentation and review my performance. On my first go, T just gave me a blank stare. I knew I was rambling and I had trouble putting my thoughts together. So, she patiently watched the video and helped me give it the structure it needed.

Once she completed the slide show, she again insisted that I write everything down. "In case you forget something, you can always look at your notes." It took me a several days to finish it. I procrastinated especially last week when the election was at its peak. But, I had to curb my surfing and just focus on the task at hand. Once the writing was done, T put the thumbnails and words together and printed my notes.

So, I practiced every night since Monday. Luckily, I had Friday off so I had the opportunity to polish the parts where I kept stumbling. T left me alone. She held residence upstairs while I stayed downstairs, talking in front of the video camera. I insisted that she turn the TV on so she could not hear me.

My presentation was at 2:00 in the afternoon so I had to mull over on what to eat for lunch. Although I was hungry, I did not want anything heavy for fear of an unsettled stomach during the presentation. So I settled on a turkey burger on a baguette with salad on the side. I looked at the time on my cell phone and it was still early. To calm my nerves, I headed to Macy's basement and bought a cup of my favorite ice cream Chocolate Fudge Brownie from Ben and Jerry's. I sat in the shade on one of the benches at Union Square and people watched. The center was closed off from the public. A few workers were already installing the Christmas tree for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony next month. I couldn't believe the year was almost over.

People started streaming in and filling the room 15 minutes before the presentation. I was surprised I was not as nervous as I thought I would be. Erika gave a nice warm introduction. She reminded the audience that it was my first time to speak and advised me that we were all friends in the room. When I got up to the podium, I started to speak, carefully pacing myself to avoid rambling. By the middle of the presentation, I scanned the audience and I was glad to see that I was still holding their attention. I even injected a few laughs in the process. Three people asked me a question and of course, the proverbial "What lens did you use?" came up.

Afterwards, about six people approached me and said they loved the talk. Others thanked me for inspiring them and I thought that was the best compliment ever considering I've never done this before. Someone even suggested I post the presentation on the blog but I'm not sure what the most effective way to do it. I called T when I got out of the building and told her it went well and that I didn't have any major slip ups. Someone even came up after I hung up the phone to compliment me.

I am now in a cafe across the street sipping a cup of hot chocolate, feeling relieved that it was over. In a few weeks, I will have to do it all over again. I have to prepare for an artist talk in January in conjunction with the show in Manila.

In the meantime, I am smiling to myself just savoring this moment just a little while longer.