The Letter - TEDxWilmington Conference 2018 Part 1

In the words of Kelly Clarkson, “A moment like this, some people wait a lifetime for that…” Ok, well not a kiss per se but a kiss of determination to make something that seemed far away become possible.  

My journey to TEDxWilmington was riddled with self-doubt, nervousness, creative roadblocks, and just thinking, "Am I truly ready for this big stage?"  

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TEDxWilmington

preparing for TEDxWilmington

About 4 years ago I heard of this thing called TED, and I wanted to know what it was all about. What was truly amazing was when I clicked on my first video, I saw it was ordinary people, sharing their ideas with the world. To coin the phrase what Steve Jobs said, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it.” It made me wonder, how I can influence the world at the prime age of 31 years old. Do I have 3 decades of experience that anyone would want to listen too? All these moments were running in my head.  

People would constantly tell me I should apply for a TEDx Talk in Wilmington; my response was always, "Ok I will look into it." But unfortunately, those where just words spoken that I never put into action. But then two years ago, I was selected to give a version of a TED Talk at the Microsoft Retail Store Managers Conference in Arizona. Working at Microsoft has been a great career growth experience for me, empowering customers and helping them learn everything involved in their inquiries about technology. So, as I flew to Arizona the nots of nervousness kicked in, I wondered would I do well, will the readers get what I am saying, and probably the biggest fear of them all… DO NOT FALL ON STAGE.  

 On stage in Arizona at the Microsoft annual store managers conference. 

On stage in Arizona at the Microsoft annual store managers conference. 

As the doors opened I peeked into the room and I saw a sea of 400 eager faces waiting to see me and 4 other retail associates WOW them. Side note: There is nothing top secret that I will be discussing hereremember a secret is always kept. Now that we got that out of the way, it was amazing walking on the stage and presenting about the 4 O’s to organizing your digital world. Having the support of the audience really helped break the nerves. I got a lot of positive feedback from my peers.  

At that point, I felt good about presenting in front of a large audience. Then about two years after that event in Arizona, my friend Kristen told me that I should apply.  I engulfed myself into downloading the TED app and watched YouTube clips of various TED and TEDx talks. I was amazed seeing other people talk about life experiences, careers, just eye opening and thought-provoking ideas. With the help of my family, friends and two amazing TEDx speakers that I personally know Taria and Jacqueline I felt it was THE time. I got assistance from Taria on the website to visit and apply on. 

The race was on!  I was on the cusp of missing my chance since it was the day of the deadline and the timing on the clock was counting down fast.  I finished filling out the form, uploaded the video and then hit send. Now it was me and my prayers lifted up, in hopes that I would be able to be on the stage. I kept hope, that I would be picked trying to speak this reality into existence, telling people I applied for it, and watching TEDx videos along the way.  

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This was when I talked to my good friend Tynetta. We always joked, but joking in a serious manner, that we should one day do a TEDx talk. We always planned to share our ideas on the big stage. I told her that I applied, and she said, "Please let me know when you get it." The days leading up to the reveal of the speakers had me on an emotional rollercoaster, and then it happened! Inbox 100+. As I heard the chime, I skimmed through my emails until I found it. There it was…. “Dear Errol: TEDxWilmington is honored to extend a formal invitation to you to give a TEDx talk.”  

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Official letter

Here is the acceptance letter I received into TEDxWilmington.

In the words of Booker T: “Shucky Ducky Quack Quack.” I was elated to receive that email, and, in that moment, I felt that I had made it. I praised God, then went on social media to share the good news. My friend Tynetta was extremely excited for the news and I asked her if she applied. She responded by saying,"Not at the moment," but in me applying it lit a fire in her to now share her story. We met up and figured out my plan to discuss the cloud and figured out her plan for her future TEDx talk, for I know she will do amazing.  

Through this journey of receiving that letter, I've been on an emotional rollercoaster. The stage is set and now it's my time to break free of self-doubt and go on my journey to make my voice heard and knowledge spread. I can't wait to see the lead up to this moment, all the greatness that this moment brings, and all the new people I will meet.  So, as the adage says: To be continued.... 

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To visit or know about the conference go to: www.TEDxWilmington.com

 

 

Journey Through A Magic Garden in Philadelphia

 Entrance to Philadelphia's Magic Garden.

Entrance to Philadelphia's Magic Garden.

Would you believe me if I told you I experienced a magical place in Philadelphia? Well on May 30, 2018 I was able to be captivate in the fullness of all this magic in the Magic Gardens, located on South Street in Philly. How did I find this gem? It wasn’t by luck or happenstance or stumbling upon Disney’s Secret Garden VHS tape... I know VHS. This magical place takes me back to watching Harriet the Spy movie. The one scene where Harriet visits the Windchime Garden and found a lot of cool artifacts and art, I always wanted to visit a place like that. Now that I have I can say this is a place I would go for any artistic inspiration.

Ok, so now that I got done strolling down memory lane, let’s get on with the topic at hand. My good friend Qiana told me about the Magic Gardens last week. We sat and looked at some artistic videos on YouTube that talked about visiting the city of brotherly love.
 

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One piece that caught my eye was the Magic Gardens created by the mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. I was enthralled with this 3,000 square foot artistic wonderland. So, Unveiled Filmzs/Every Day Woman and I decided to pay a visit to Philly’s Magic Gardens.
 

Despite the bumpy roads of Philly, getting to this destination was worth the wait. As you approach the garden as you lay your eyes on the outside, you just want to see what’s inside. Walking in, I felt amazed how Mr. Zagar was able to build this captivating creation. I wanted to find out more so before I walked outside, I wanted a quick history lesson. I read about Mr. Zagar and his wife Julia and how they moved to South Street in 1968, when the area was going to be slated for demolition by the city because the area was deemed desolated and dangerous. 

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Mr. Zagar and his wife Julia were the first people to turn this area into an artistic treasure. From opening their Eyes Gallery on 402 South Street, the first property that Mr. Zagar would create his mosaic to this day, they still showcase and sell the art of Latin-American artists. 
 

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Magic Gardens

Philadelphia's Hidden Gem

But in 1994, the magic happened. Isaiah would go and create several mosaic spaces and public murals. But there was one building he brought the magic out of in South Philly, and that was the Magic Garden, located at 1020 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147. Piece by piece for the past fourteen years, he would create what we see today.  With the purchase of two vacant lots, he would create mosaic masterpieces, as well as give other artists a place to showcase their work indoors. But in 2002, the landowner of the two vacant lots wanted to sell the land, due to rise in property cost. But what Philly is known for is that brotherly love, so the community banded together, and Mr. Zagar purchased the other two lots. With this purchase, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens was born, and it inspires old and new generations to come together and bring the creative inspiration in everyone. 
 

How 5 Young women Dared to Be!!!

 The young ladies of Dare 2B U.

The young ladies of Dare 2B U.

Photography is my true passion and career that I strive to  in life, but tech has grown on me for the past 5 years and made a lasting impression. Through tech, I was able to meet 5 amazing young women who dared to be entrepreneurs.

It all started around the summer of 2017 when I met Brianna, Jabreya, Kelly, Sierra and Victoria while working for Microsoft. These high school students met through Ryan,  who is part of Junior Achievement (JA) in Delaware, came into the store as participants in the Junior Achievement company program. When we met, they had the opportunity to learn a lot about what it takes to run a business, and decided to make their own small business with the help of JA.

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Dare to Share

Swinging together and creating those moments

These young women explored many different ideas of what they wanted their business to be and what to name it. They finally came up with the name D2BU. So I asked, “what is D2BU?” They responded by saying “ D2BU stands for Dare 2B U. It’s a company that promotes positive awareness in not just youth and teens but everyone.” It was inspiring how I was able to see them start with an idea, spend just a couple of months creating a business plan, and immediately start running and operating a business within a few short weeks. Each young woman  had a significant role in the company from being the president, to planning out marketing, to organizing sales, and to tracking financials, they all had a part in making the project a success.

They started making progress by selling shirts, something I just had to support, I purchased a cool, black D2BU, which I still wear to this day. They also created a plan for promoting their concept through social media. They asked people one question… “What do you dare 2 be?” Those words truly speak volumes to people who may be bullied, feel unworthy, the list goes on and on. This one question can change the minds of many people, and I am no exception. So I dared to be was a photographer and be a person that exudes creativity. I was truly inspired because it made me think about who I want to be.

Then they needed to have pictures to promote  their brand. I offered to help these young entrepreneurs because I believed in their mission.  So we set out to two locations, one on Main Street in Newark, DE and the other in Old New Castle, Delaware at Battery Park.

 Dare 2B Powerful

Dare 2B Powerful

Seeing them just bonding together was a truly remarkable, just getting together to create something positive. They also brought their friends to help with there D2BU campaign.  

As the company program for these women ended, I saw a progression in all of them. Not only did they bond on a company they built from scratch, they learned a lot of life skills before hitting college. From running a business, to money management, to failures and success, they took a business that was just a dream and made it into a reality. So while some of these young women graduate high school and go off to college, one thing is true, D2BU is still running as a brand and maybe, just maybe, you might be asked what do you Dare 2 Be?

 Dare 2 Love what you do. 

Dare 2 Love what you do. 

A beautiful wedding in Wilmington

On a gorgeous winter day in Wilmington, DE, Dwight and Kennisha were married at Ebenezer Baptist Church and had a beautiful reception at The Waterfall Catering and Special Events.

The newlyweds were surrounded by stunning views of the waterfall reception, family, and friends. Their love, much like their beautiful wedding cake, was displayed for all to see and admire.

 When a beautiful couple says I do. 

When a beautiful couple says I do. 

Kennisha and Dwight, my heart overflows with love for you both. You are the type of people who make the world better, inspire others, and believe staggering odds are simply an opportunity to shine.

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Your love makes others want to support you in deep and profound ways, and I’m honored to have documented your first day as husband and wife.

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I am thankful to have been invited into your lives, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you both! Much Love and Appreciation...ERROL E.

Can you capture beautiful imagery on an iPhone? YES!

Every Moment Deserves A Better Picture and Every Great Picture Tells A Better Story
— Errol Ebanks

Being a photographer for 15 plus years is an achievement in itself. Whether it is photographing a client, event, or personal inspiration I always try to take a photo every day. Now would I love to have my big camera and lenses and lighting with me 24/7? Of course! But… keeping track of that and the weight is no easy feat. So I tend to go to the camera that’s always on me 24/7, and that’s my trusty iPhone.

I know camera sensors on the iPhone can’t match a big DSLR. But it's not the equipment that makes the photographer, it’s the eye. So one thing is to keep taking photos.

If we thought that having big equipment would mean having great photos, then there would be no Ansel Adams, Dan Chung, and Alex Majoli just to name a few.

 Using just window light and a little bit of patience's can make a big difference getting a dramatic shot like this. 

Using just window light and a little bit of patience's can make a big difference getting a dramatic shot like this. 

Taking the best shots means compositions, like rules of thirds, lighting, and a slight touch of digital darkroom processing… NO kids I don’t mean Instagram filters.

The best way is to capture those moments around you. Because every moment deserves a better picture and every great picture tells a better story.

An urban oasis known as Graffiti Alley in Baltimore.

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One of the most interesting parts of Baltimore is Graffiti Alley. Myself I have never heard of this grunge artistic urban haven called Graffiti Alley. Seeing Graffiti Alley brought back memories of seeing urban artist in NYC creating  art masterpieces.

But I wouldn’t have known about this hidden gem if it wasn’t for Brina of Unveil Filmzs. Not only does she know the great sites around the Baltimore area but she is a great film editor as well. We discussed one day of going to this place to just see what it is like and take some shots around, but little did I know I would fall in love with this alley.

We wasn’t there alone as other artist and people alike would be photographing, filming, shooting a music video or just taking it in. It's one breathtaking place to see. If you ever travel to this beautiful destination , take it in and maybe just maybe find a can of inspiration.

Miss Delaware Teen USA and Miss Delaware USA final competition.

It all started on November 26th, 2017 at the Double Tree hotel in Wilmington, Delaware. Being a photographer covering events, you never know what to expect. But boy did I know I will see some amazing dresses, beautiful faces, great friends and many more.

    Miss Universe Banner

Miss Universe Banner

I was able to meet up with the then current Miss Delaware USA 2017 winner Mia Jones. I knew it would be a great honor to capture her handing over the title to the new Miss Delaware USA 2018 winner, but I knew I was watching someone that I knew for the past 7 years blossom into a beautiful, young, and empowering lady.

Miss Delaware USA 2017 Mia Jones poses and greets a cute little fan before the show starts.

As I sat down I began to think of all the photoshoots I’ve done with not just Mia, but other contestants like Tierra, Kai, Maria, and many more. I was just grateful getting this opportunity thanks to Mia to showcase what I can do. So as the lights dim down I began to have a chat with Mrs. Jones and other family members and friends of theirs.

As I cued up my camera and flash, I got a tap on the shoulder no flash photography. Ah yes those dreaded words in a darkroom. You only hope and pray there would be enough light. And oh boy yes there was, beautiful light that shined a spotlight on each contestant.

The first round of contestants for the Miss Delaware Teen USA and Miss Delaware USA 2018 competition.

The contestants wore dresses from near and far, some from other countries and some from local boutiques like Cecile Boutique. The crowd was in awe of not just the dresses but the way each lady addressed different topics of discussions that goes on in the world and society.
 

Mia takes the lead to usher in the new contestants.

KYW3 Philly Jim Donovan MC’s the Competition.

Each contestant shined through and through with there stunning dresses but also there personalities. They all had a winning quality about them. Showcasing that no matter who you are, you can be anything and do anything. Being able to be on that stage in front of a packed house is no easy feat.

Miss Delaware & Miss Teen Delaware USA 2018 contestants walk the stage and gets greeted by Miss Delaware USA 2017 Mia Jones and Miss Delaware Teen USA 2017 Grace Lange.

As Miss Delaware USA 2017 Mia Jones and Miss Delaware Teen USA 2017 Grace Lange grace the stage you can only think of what emotions are going through there mind. Maybe its thinking about the journey that got them their. Those hours of helping in the community, those late nights practicing what to say for the final speech, helping others achieve their dreams and many more.

Mia and Grace final walk and Miss Delaware USA and Miss Delaware Teen USA.

The contestants discussed many social issues that is the topic of discussion in our society. They took the time answering hard and sometimes uneasy questions, but they did it with class.

   Miss Delaware USA 2018 Contestant Alyssa.

Miss Delaware USA 2018 Contestant Alyssa.

Mia and Grace poses and does a secret handshake.

Now the moment we been waiting for the final contestants to the Miss Delaware and Delaware Teen USA competition. As I was photographing, I could only imagine what that would have been like. Those final moments of will i win, will i lose, don’t fall. That would have been running through my head. But all the ladies who competed win, loose, or draw took it in stride and made a winning story. That girls can compete in this world, for its not about wins and losses, its about the journey that gets you to the stage.

Kai and Brynn gives each other support and congratulations.

  Winner of the 2018 Miss Delaware Teen USA Brynn Close given the crown by Grace Lange.

Winner of the 2018 Miss Delaware Teen USA Brynn Close given the crown by Grace Lange.

As they announce the winner of Miss Delaware Teen USA 2018, their was just one more announcement and that’s the Miss Delaware USA 2018. The crowd held their breath on who will be crowned Miss Delaware USA 2018.

Sierra and Alyssa gives encouraging and supporting words as one is crowned Miss Delaware USA 2018.

As they gave the dramatic drumroll, I took notice of everyone on stage from contestants, runner ups, and soon to be winners. They all felt like they are part of a sisterhood. Empowering and strong women who gave their all, showcased no matter what background, social, race, or economic class you come from, all things are possible. That crown I feel is not just a sparkle of jewelry, but each diamond represents a star that made it to the stage and to be held upright by all the women. For each diamond I feel represents someone who took the chance to compete.

2018 Miss Delaware USA Sierra Wright and Miss Delaware Teen USA Brynn Close.