It’s such a great experience as a photographer when you get to see someone doing exactly what they were put on this earth to do. It’s someone you watch and you know they are completely in their element; in the zone.
This is what it was like to capture my good friend Darryl Bellamy, of Bellamy Inspires, at one of his most memorable speaking events in Indianapolis.
I traveled there with Darryl, who is easily one of the top young speakers in the country. His main focus during the speeches is fearlessness. He mostly speaks on college campuses to talk to students while they embark on a journey to find their place at the school, their career in life, and find themselves, most importantly.
For this event, AFLV, or the Association of Fraternal Leadership Values, invited Darryl to speak on a huge stage for a huge number of people. This stage has been graced by some of the greats including Joe Biden and this was the biggest Greek leadership conference in the country with over 3,000 people, so no pressure, right?
I felt so lucky to be able to capture, not only his speaking at the conference, but everything leading up to it and beyond. I got to see a real artist prepare for their performance.
We started shooting early morning on the day of the speech. We woke up at around six and photographed him getting ready and the entire preparation process the day of the event. I got to watch him practice, run through some final details, put on his lucky vest, and get mentally and physically prepared to give it all on that stage to those students. And that’s exactly what he did.
We shot in the conference room and then I captured him doing his thing on stage during the speech.
In my opinion, this was no ordinary speech. Darryl doesn’t do anything that we might call ordinary. He’s a visionary and wants to bring home this idea of fighting and letting go of fears that you have. One of the most memorable parts of his speech was the firepits.
He speaks, shares his story, encourages and then he asks the audience to share something about themselves. He asks that they write down their fears on a small piece of paper- write down the things they feel are holding them back. Then together, they each throw their fears into the fires that are burning throughout the room.
It’s such a powerful moment.
After the speech, the energy didn’t let down. It was amazing to see as a photographer what these students’ reactions were. Post-speech, the students can come to talk with Darryl and meet him and each student gets a Fearless band. The bands look seemingly insignificant. There’s nothing on the outside of the band, but on the inside, where it touches the skin, it says “I’m Fearless”.
You have students from all over the country looking for guidance and their expressions when they see and talk to Darryl after such a monumental speech are incredible. These young people were fired up! You can really see in the photos how the students react during the speech, during the firepit moment, and you can see how Darryl’s message has affected them positively. Their faces say it all.
After the speech, and the meet-and-greet were all completed, we went back to the hotel where we started the day. It all went by in the blink of an eye but at the same time felt like so much longer than just one day. We got a few more shots in and around the hotel, debriefed and caught our breath. Even while we were finishing the shots throughout the hotel, there were still people stopping Darryl, coming up and thanking him even hours after the speech was finished. It’s like he was a celebrity to them.
In a word, the whole event was magical. Watching a creative person doing what they are so good at, serving people who are thirsty for the encouragement, and watching people grow and react with positivity is something I’m lucky to have been a part of. Not to mention the random snow we got to photograph in, it all felt a bit surreal.
From one creative professional to another, it was an honor to capture Darryl in his element and share the journey he goes on to prepare and create these amazing moments for thousands of people. Plus, he also worked with an extremely talented videographer, Loyd Visuals, who captured the event as well. You can watch that here.