I have been an evangelist of this website and @vvanedwards' trainings on CreativeLive since I found her myself many years ago. They literally changed my life, and as a photographer, I get into these conversations with people about their self-image, and I often bring up little bits and pieces that I've learned from Master your People Skills or The Power of Body Language, plus all the other goodies here on the SOP website. I'm also a big follower of women's portrait photographer, Sue Bryce, and often relay some of her teachings on "existing in photographs" before it's too late, regardless of 20 extra pounds or a few extra wrinkles, and I love to watch TED talks on anything that has to do with beauty and self-esteem.
Anyway, I recently moved into a larger studio space, and have been wanting to host a little free meetup for women to get together, see the space, see my work, have a glass of wine, and mingle. But I didn't want to make it just a "here's me and how cool I am" (LOL), I wanted to deliver something of value as well, to encourage some introspection on what prevents people from being happy with their self-image (something that is ultimately what prevents people from being photographed voluntarily).
This is from repeated meetings and encounters with women I look up to and admire, I think "wow they are incredible!" and I get into a conversation about photos and photography, and they immediately go to self-hate. Wedding planners I know who can juggle the million details that go into someone's "big day" without breaking a sweat. A Harvard-grad health center director who met President Obama and is known in town as the "grant whisperer" able to coach non-profits on getting access to funds. A local reporter who has a "scruffy" tomboy style about her but has her finger on the pulse of any story large or small, and is a great advocate for LGBT rights. A powerful woman who runs one of the largest travel lodging organizations in our area and knows everyone (it seems) in a 100 mile radius. A master female lawyer who is known for taking cases related to human rights and domestic abuse, and does a lot of community legal work pro bono. But you get ANY of these women into a conversation about appearance, if I mention what I do, if the subject turns in any way that would next lead to them getting in front of a camera, it's like they give away all their power and shut down with this "Oh no, not me, I'm too this, I'm too that, I need to do X, I need to lose Y" and I just sit there looking at them like "Are you serious!? Don't you see how incredible you are!?"
And so, I thought the most valuable thing I could think of, that relate to my work, is doing a short talk that encourages people to set aside all the self-doubts and criticisms we tell ourselves about our physical appearance, and tapping instead into our inner beauty...what we DO that makes us beautiful.
If people can let THAT be the thing that shines through when we either (A) look in the mirror every morning or (B) get in front of a camera to promote ourselves in our social profiles, business websites, charity organizations, or whatever other work we do, I think that will start to shift people's perceptions of how they look in photos.
That said, while I'm an expert on composition, technical skills such as lighting and camera settings, lens choice, and recognizing expression that adds that bit of "glimmer" to a photo to let the person shine through, I am not, per se, an expert on "beauty".
So I open the question of, if you were wanting to do a talk on something that you are very passionate about, are a voracious student of, have mentors (virtual or otherwise) that you look up to who talk on the subject that you can glean information from, how do you go about narrowing that into a smaller presentation that is (1) easily digestible, (2) positions yourself as "the messenger" rather than the expert while still giving credibility to why you should be up there speaking, and (3) obviously gives credit to the original sources.
For example...there is a famous TED talk about power posing by Amy Cuddy where she asserts that the body can change the mind. Is it just as simple as saying "one way to increase your inner power is to use this technique developed by Amy Cuddy, where you do this this and this" and then provide a link to the TED talk at the end?
Basically my goal is to open up the conversation, explain why I think it's important, how doing some of the exercises can benefit people in business and their career, what having a positive self-image does for your health and personal life, and start the thought process of encouraging them to look more into the subject, while subconsciously leaving me and my studio top of mind for if and when they decide they want to invest in professional photos of themselves.
Thanks for any ideas or experiences!