These past few months have been really moving for me. It started when I followed an amazing photographer on Snapchat. After following John Stanmeyer’s Instagram for a while, I started to follow him on Snapchat. I decided to introduce myself and talk to him about my story, Faceless, that I have been working on for a few years now. To my surprise, he video snapped me back and told me my work was nice and to email him a link to my website. He critiqued my work and gave me feedback. It was very insightful and it was amazing to have my work looked at by an award winning 14 year National Geographic photographer. He started following me on snapchat which I thought was pretty neat- and is just strange to say, because its snapchat. I know people who think that snapchat is just awful because they think it is only used by kids sending naughty photos. Quite the contrary.  Then one day, I snapped that I was sending some things out to some magazines. He wrote me and told me, “You need to call me”, and gave me his number. I was driving through a car wash at the moment, I told him I would call when I got out. Those 5 minutes seemed like forever and my heart was racing with excitement! I was supposed to get my car hand dried but when I pulled out, they were taking so long to get to me. I just couldn’t take it any longer- I drove off, there goes that $7 hand dry. I called him and we spoke for about 30 minutes. He was so down to earth and told me things that were invaluable as a photographer. I couldn’t believe it. For so many years, I have been working towards National Geographic and here I am talking to a master on the phone. He told me about some photo fests that I needed to go to. He emailed me the links while we were on the phone. One of them is called Visa pour l’lmage which is a huge international photojournalism fest in Perpignan, France. Over 240,000 people come from all over the world to this. There are round tables, exhibitions, portfolio reviews, and screenings of the past years work.

I have been researching what exhibitions and round tables I should go to while I am there. A few days before I left to head across seas,  I was getting so anxious thinking of being over in Paris amongst the world’s top journalist and here I am just lil ole me. Finally the day has come and as I go to get on the plane, they tell me my name is not in the system. I was calm for a while and then they told me I needed to call customer service and see what the problem was. So I go over to the side and call. I am on hold for 15 minutes before anyone picks up the line. The customer service guy was indian and I couldn’t understand any thing he was saying. And he couldn’t understand me. I literally spelled out my email – D as in David, L as in larry H as in Henry, and so on, 7 times. By the 7th time spelling my entire email out like this and he still go it wrong, I lost it. I was yelling and cursing and everyone was looking at me like, “Watch out, this bitch is crazy!” At this point we still didn’t know what the problem was as to why my ticket got canceled. Finally, we find out. When I bought the ticket, they double charged me. When I called for a refund on one of the tickets two weeks ago, the bastards had canceled both of them, not one of them. I never got any sort of cancellation email or notice on either the tickets, I just got money back for one ticket. Luckily they, had a flight out the next day. I wasted a train ticket and one night at my airbnb. I live three hours away from the airport but luckily I have a friend in Oakland that came to the rescue, thank you Sarah! Thankfully I made it only one day behind.

So I got into Paris yesterday and my old neighbor from Houston picked me up at the airport (doesn’t get much better!) and let me stay with her. I don’t think that I have seen her since I was about 16!  Maryse showed me some great spots that we walked to and made me an amazing meal for dinner. She is a lovely woman it was so great to see her again. She took me to the train this morning at 6am, also amazing, and here I am on the train to Perpignan. This is going to be a great learning experience for me. This will prepare me on how to do this next year and be able to actually submit work that I have worked on this next year. I hope to make this an annual event. Its funny that I am doing something else alone. Im always alone! That is one thing that I have learned about life, you can’t wait around for anyone. If you want to do something and no one else can go, you just have to go anyway. Don’t pass up opportunities because you might be scared or nervous. Just do it.

I can’t wait to see how this week pans out. I am very excited to see the exhibitions and journalist’s screenings of their work from this past year. I am predicting lots of tears in the near future. I know tears of happiness from just plain emotions of being there. I also predict tears of sadness, due to the content of the work that will be shown. A majority of work is over the migrants and things going on in the east. I am anxious to see what unfolds and share with you what I learn.

For those of you who made it to here, thank you for reading this really long journal entry. xoxo

Deleigh

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