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Getting Up Close and Personal with Your Fears

Throughout my life, I have always found myself to be the quiet one– never to really speak out and be the center of attention. Growing up, I would always move myself out of the way as to not bother other people. Coming to college has made me realize that I can’t always be in the shadows, sometimes I have to get in people’s faces and let my voice be heard. The BrandJRNY community branding project is no different, and it has been difficult for me to learn how to gently approach strangers to get the best image or video possible. 


Like most of my life, I have preferred to hang back and film from a distance. Even at the Community Kick-Off event– my first real experience taking video in general, let alone of strangers– I was afraid of getting in the way. After interacting with the community of Point Pleasant, I realized that there was nothing to be afraid about. Sure, everyone was a stranger to me, but the atmosphere of the room was of friends.


This photo was taken at the Battle Days festival. Source | Andres Warren.

That first event did help me begin to get over my fear of being in the spotlight, simply because the people of Point Pleasant are so accepting of the BrandJRNY Project and excited to have their voices heard. After filming for three different events in the city, I haven’t had a bad experience with someone because of the camera. 


This project has given me a newfound confidence in approaching strangers, but has also helped me conquer some of the anxieties I get when all eyes are on me. I have learned that a smile goes a very long way when it comes to getting an inside look into the lives’ of others. Making conversation with a smile can ease some of the concerns that many people get about having their lives recorded. In the case of the Battle Day’s event we attended, some people were uneasy about being filmed while they participated in the events. All it took was a smile and a kind explanation of our project for their worries to disappear.The FStoppers say that planning plays a huge role in combating anxiety, and I do believe this to be true. Before even getting to Point Pleasant, the BrandJRNY team learned what to say about the project, and we planned for additional questions. Having that practice definitely helped when it came down to talking about it with strangers. 


The anxieties that come with talking to strangers can affect everyone, but there are simple ways to combat these struggles to produce a great product. This article from The Digital Photography School touch on some common fears while shooting, and what to do about them. This article was so beneficial to me, as many of the fears they address were things I was feeling when this project started. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to learn how to do the things I can now do, and I feared that I wouldn’t be able to get over my anxieties of talking to strangers. 


Thanks to the BrandJRNY class, I have not only learned the practical skills I need to succeed in the class, but it has taught me so much more. I’ve learned to be more confident, whether I am behind a camera or not. 


My name is Kenzie Pigott, I am one of the visual storytellers for BrandJRNY’s Point Pleasant branding campaign. One of my favorite things to do in my free time is travel West Virginia and explore the mountain state. Follow me through our journey– @Kenziee_kaaya.

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Housed at the WVU Media Innovation Center, BrandJRNY is a community branding initiative that is a grant-funded collaboration between the American Electric Power Foundation and WVU Reed College of Media.

The Initiative was previously funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for our three pilot projects.

Original website designed by Mariah Elliott, under the direction of PI and Director Dr. Rita Colistra.

Photos and content may not be used without written permission by contacting brandjrny@gmail.com.

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