Almost three years ago, after I started my photography business, my mother asked me, “If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be?” I thought for a moment and said, “The President of the United States”. My mother always taught me to DREAM BIG and AIM HIGH, but I don’t think she was expecting my answer.
As with any idea I come up with for my business, my mother always sits with me, listens to me, strategizes with me and then we implement what she calls “a plan of action”. However, with this dream, my mom didn’t seem to have an immediate plan of action to get President Obama in my lens (photo compliments of my buddy, Mr. Bobby). This was very much unlike her. In her words, there was no easy way to make this happen.
As we started to share my dream with friends, one friend in particular, Mrs. Shayla Reaves, gave us the idea to create a hashtag and share it on every single thing we posted. We created the hashtag #HelpMadisonMeetPOTUS and every time I appeared on TV or shared something on social media, I talked about my dream and I shared the hashtag. I even asked friends, family and followers to share it too! This was such a great idea because this was exactly how I got to Washington D.C.
After tweeting, “Can a #nineyearoldphotographer attend as #media to capture this event?”. I received a private message that said, “Hi Madison! We saw your #HelpMadisonMeetPOTUS campaign!” It was so very encouraging to receive a private message from the United State of Women, inviting me to attend! It felt like all of our hard work with the hashtag campaign finally paid off!
Having a WTSP (CBS affiliate) official badge naming me a photo ambassador for the event, was so cool. Thanks to my friend Mrs. Dion Lim for making it happen; it allowed me to feel confident applying for White House media credentials. When we received the White House Press Pool Media Credentials, I screamed so loud! I was so excited! I couldn’t even believe that this dream I had for so long was about to come true. I kept pinching myself.
When I realized that I was going to Washington, DC to attend the United State of Women Summit, I did not realize that the President would be attending or even speaking. It wasn’t until I received the email and read the itinerary where I saw that President Barack Obama would be speaking! I started to scream again!
Traveling to Washington, DC with my parents was so much fun. We stayed with family, we tried new restaurants and we connected with friends. I even did a photo shoot for Gabrielle Jordan, 16 year old entrepreneur who has inspired me throughout my journey with entrepreneurship. At the end of our week there, I left DC with what I dreamed about for almost two years, a photograph of the President of the States. I even took photos of other famous people too. I was so very happy! I told my mom that I felt accomplished.
My dream coming true, was a pretty big deal. When we returned from DC, my mom said I should write a letter to President Obama and send him the photo I took of him. So, I typed a letter, included the photo, my business card, a magazine I was on the cover of and the Tampa Bay Times newspaper that covered my story. We gave it to a friend of a friend to hand-deliver since she personally met with him monthly for breakfast.
This past November, I was so happy to receive a letter from President Obama along with photos of him, First Lady Michelle Obama and the girls, Sasha and Malia. He even sent photos of their dogs, Sunny and Bo. My favorite part of his letter is when he said, “I inspire him”. I always hope to inspire people, even the President of the United States.
I cannot believe my dream came true a year ago today on June 14, 2016! I really have had an amazing year and I have so much to be thankful for.
Originally published at medium.com