Stage Fright

Chairs and camera on the set of No Boundaries at MNN, in NYC. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Stage Fright: Life at the other end of the lens

Many of us, I assume, have some degree of stage fright, some more than others. Those of us, working behind the scenes, are more reluctant to switch roles and appear in front of (rather than behind) the lens or mic.

Ron B - No Boundaries Up Close and Personal
BTS from on the set photography at MNN, before the taping of No Boundaries show. Photo by Alina Oswald.

As photographers, we feel comfortable behind the lens, not so much in front of it. And yet, there are times when we do find ourselves on stage, with cameras pointing at us. While we’d like to duck and disappear, we are painfully aware that that is not a possibility. So, what then?

Recently I had the chance to be a panelist on Ron B show, No Boundaries – Up Close and Personal, together with DJ Mimi. We talked about women empowerment, women in the arts, music, photography, and much more. Here’s the link: https://vimeo.com/231927736

 

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I had lots of fun, and that’s thanks to the fantastic host, Ron B, producer, Gloria Messer and fellow panelist, DJ Mimi. And yet, with all the fantastic people around me, I still the experience of being on stage quite an uneasy experience.

Gloria Messer producer of MNN show No Boundaries, watches the host, Ron B, from behind the lens. Bts photo by Alina Oswald.

When on the panel, in front of the camera, you become painfully aware of several things:
It gets cold, very cold. While you’re aware of how low the temps can drop in the studio, still, being in front of the lens somehow doesn’t help the situation. The cold feels enhanced, amplified to a degree that you actually have to hold your jaw with your hands to keep it from shaking.

Although you don’t usually pay much attention to your appearance, finding yourself in the spotlight makes you painfully aware of how you look, stand, sound, and so on. All of a sudden you’re on shaky grounds, exploring a completely new territory. (remember the scene in Miss Congeniality when Gracie (played by Sandra Bullock) left to her own devices, was frantically looking through the makeup bag? That pretty much describes yours truly to a t)

These and other similar thoughts wander freely through your mind as you try to say something that would at least be consider smart enough or funny or interesting enough, and all that while you edit yourself as you go, trying to find the best possible words.

While all this is going on, you catch a glimpse of yourself on a monitor and you’re horrified, completely freeze, this time not because of the temps, but because of anxiety, fear, and worry.

But you look around and realize that you are surrounded by friendly faces, by people who give you the chance to speak your mind and who are there for you. And you are grateful. And you keep going.

Ron B - No Boundaries Up Close and Personal
No Boundaries producer Gloria Messer at work behind the scenes in the Control Room, where the magic happens. A sneak peek. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Learning how to be yourself while finding yourself at the other end of the lens is a fantastic exercise. It puts things into perspective. It might bring into focus unwanted vulnerabilities, but it also shows that you are human after all. Most importantly it gives you the opportunity to raise your voice and share your views, goals and dreams, and your work with the world. It shows the person behind the lens, who created that work. It helps you spread the word, send the message, and tell your the story.

Can we eliminate stage fright? I believe that some of us will always have a certain degree of insecurity when on stage.

What can we do to minimize stage fright? Turning the lens on yourself does help. I do believe that self portraits do work.

Photographing Ron B’s show No Boundaries: Up Close and Personal, taped at MNN, the Manhattan Neighborhood Network.

A few things to keep in mind while on stage:
Breathe. Get as comfortable in the chair as possible.
Focus on the host and other guests, but mostly on the host. Trust your host. (don’t agree to be part of the show if you don’t trust the host)
Try not to think of all the monitors around you or the control room behind you.
Be yourself. (As they say, everyone else is taken)

After the show:
Do thank your host and others on the panel. Do thank those working behind the scenes to put the show together. Learn from each experience.

 

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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