There are moments in your life that are so defining, you remember every little detail about them. Good or bad, these life nuggets come at you like a ton of bricks — overwhelming and emotional. It was just two months ago, I got that call. A call from Nikon Ambassador and team leader, Mike Corrado, who proceeded to explain to me that Nikon, Inc had been vetting me for some time, reviewing my work and studying what I do. The realization that THE top camera and optics company in the world was even looking at me, made my heart stop and literally leap into my throat. Me? They are looking at ME? Mike then proceeded to ask me if I might step in and take over a vacated speaking spot at WPPI, the worlds largest professional conference for photographers. My “yes” answer probably came out of my mouth before he’d even finished, but there we were. Two weeks later I was a on a plane to Las Vegas, and then shaking in my boots as I prepared to speak in front of thousands of other pros in the trade show and and millions of others as the event was streamed live, and online at Nikon.com. On the way home, I must have critiqued my performance a thousand times, criticizing and berating myself for things I could have said better, or not being clear enough or funny enough. Funny how we all have the inner critic who looooves to tell us what we did wrong, but fails to give even a second glance at what went right. And much to my inner critic’s despair, something must have gone right that day because not one week later, I got that second phone call from Mike. This time it’s different. He’s calm. He’s cool. He rambles. He rambles on about representing Nikon, and a relationship with my company and the famed Ambassador program. It felt like an eternity, but he finally got to the point.“Julia, the Nikon legal department has approved you, and you’ve been chosen as our only Newborn and Maternity Ambassador in the U.S. Would you consider accepting an invitation to the Nikon Ambassador team?”
Time stops for a moment on these ‘Diamond’ days. The days that change your life. The days that shape who you are and define EVERYTHING you have been working for. I spoke out and voiced my ambition to be a Nikon Ambassador 5 years ago. I said it only to family and friends, a few colleagues, but most importantly myself. It’s one of those things you dream of, but don’t really expect to happen. Kind of like how Jim Carey carried around a $10 million check in his wallet with the hopes of making that paycheck one day. And he did. (Hey, maybe I should write myself a check?) Yet, here I was 5 years later, about to answer the invitation of all invitations.
Driving while experiencing emotionally charged ‘diamond moments’ are not something you should do while operating heavy machinery, just FYI. (Can they put that on the label?) I screeched to a halt and tried to keep my professional cool,“Well, what does it involve? What would be my end? My commitment?” Meanwhile my whole body was shaking and I swear, I was screaming, “YES! YES!!” while I maintained my well-trained, journalistic composure. And while Mike proceeded to explain to me all that it would entail, I heard it, but only half heard. The excitement was just too unbearable to shut in. The light of that moment too bright to hide from. The unbelieveablity of this request and the “why me?” questions that ran through my head exploding to get out, had me in fits of unbridled overwhelm along with humbling responsibility. Wow, I was going to be a Nikon Ambassador. And the only maternity and newborn representative to boot! I cannot tell you the honor I feel, the pride of hard work and humility of taking on such a task. Nikon states that,“Nikon Ambassadors are some of the most versatile, ambitious and influential photographers and filmmakers today. They represent a vast array of backgrounds and shooting disciplines, but what binds them all is a commitment to move the imaging industry forward through knowledge sharing, guidance for the imaging community and a mastery of technology and trends.” That I have been chosen to represent Nikon is like a pro athlete getting that Nike, Under Armor or Adidas endorsement. It is career defining and the distinction of a lifetime. And to pay it forward with solid education, a decade-long career of knowledge and entrepreneurial street-smarts is something I take as a serious and esteemed responsibility.
Oh and by the way… I said “Yes.”
Thank you to Bambi Cantrell, colleague, mentor and now a friend. You are what truly embodies kindness, generosity and grace. And finally to Arlene Evans and Amanda Caines from Creative Live–I don’t know where I’d be without you. To say thank you would NEVER be enough. Arlene, you have become like a second mom and I adore you from here to the ends of the earth. And finally, thank you, Nikon. You are a company with the highest standards and even better people. A 30 year veteran user, and loyal pro, I couldn’t be more excited to spread your mission and tickled to be part of such a warm and welcoming “family” that respects what I do, honors me as a professional and forwards my passion to empower creative women.