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Friday, May 13, 2011

{ The Ultimate Women's EXPO -- Phoenix, AZ } -- AZ Photographer

{ The ULTIMATE Women's EXPO }

Were you there this year? It was awesome!

On Saturday, the lines wrapped outside and down the sides of the building.

Thousands of women showed up to experience this year's event. Just like last year, you could feel the excitement in the air.

They rolled out the red carpet and wanted everyone who passed through to feel like a star.

They also passed out these amazingly cute damask bags. I have developed a serious love for purses and bags and just HAD to get one for myself!

I was shooting photos for the EXPO this year and got to enjoy taking in all of the details and the excitement surrounding me. Something I noticed this year was that the women who attended were there with others. Some got in the car and had a great Girl's Day Out with each other. Others brought their husbands or their kids. Whoever they came with, they were having some serious FUN!

There was an abundance of free facials, hairstyling, manicures, massages.......

....and every woman's favorite....lots of SHOPPING!!!

As lunch neared on Saturday and Sunday, an energetic buzz began to fill the air and the auditorium began to fill up with women who were excited to see this year's Keynote Speakers. First up was:

{ Patricia Heaton }

She talked about transitions and about how God had changed her life. How the beauty of Hollywood and all the nips and tucks and the this and that didn't matter anymore. She said that she started praying for open or closed doors (the same prayer that I prayed before all these crazy doors started opening for me to do photography--watch out, it's a "dangerous" prayer!) and she said that she was ready to give up acting if God didn't want her to do it anymore. Then all these doors for acting started opening up and she's been an even busier actress than she has been in the past. Lots of opportunities for her.

Patricia also did a Q + A session at the end of her speech to answer any questions that people had for her, which was really nice of her to do. Some vendors gave her a purse with "P" on it for "Patricia" and they were thrilled to see her tote it during the entire Q+A.

I am SO glad that I got to meet Patricia, especially hearing about her faith and how God answered her prayer about open and closed doors. That really hit close to home for me.

Next up on the day's roster was:
{ Susan Lucci }

I'll admit, I honestly didn't know who Susan Lucci was before taking her picture last weekend. I am usually pretty busy and my TV feast consists of a few minutes of the morning news as I'm getting ready for my part time morning job and portions of American Idol whenever I'm not busy (Ha! Is there such a thing for me?!?!?!). So, when I saw all these women clamoring to meet Susan, I wondered, "Who on earth is this woman?"

A friend of our family is an actor and has acted in a re-occuring role on Days of Our Lives and that was the only connection I could think of when people said that she was on All My Children. When I took my picture with her, I figured she *must* know him and I asked her if she knew him and she said, "The name sounds familiar." Turns out I was way off and soap operas are not one of the same thing. Days of Our Lives is not the same as All My Children. It's like saying that bananas are like apples because they're both fruit. Two totally different things.


Open mouth, insert shoe store.

The thing that struck me most about Susan Lucci is how gracious and polite she is. I heard her security tell each other, "She didn't say she was going to do this" when she started bending down to touch the hands of her adoring fans who were reaching to get one touch from their favorite soap actress. When she was complimented by someone, she would put her hand to her heart and give a deep-felt and honest, "Thank you. Thank you so very much." It kind of felt like watching one of the princesses at Disneyland. So full of grace and manners. So gracious and thankful.

Oh, how the women loved her! The looks on their faces said it all....

{ Pure adoration. }

If Susan's stage appearance gathered large crowds, then you can bet that the crowds gathering at her Border's book signing was even more crazy.

One woman I was standing next to was shaking a LOT. Quivering, she said, "I'm shaking so bad. I don't know what to say to her. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh." The women LOVED her and stood there like giddy little schoolgirls. Totally makes me smile to see the joy on their faces.

Susan is "their" actress. "Their" role model. "Their" favorite. You could see it in each of them--they stood their with looks that said, "I feel like I know you, yet I can't believe that I'm getting to meet you!"
America's Actress. : )

And of course, there was....


< Enter chants of "Ricki! Ricki! Ricki!" >

I held my breath and got a little star struck when I met Ricki, because I grew up watching her talk show when I was a kid. I have such fond memories of my Grandma and I watching her show together when my Grandma was still alive. It was either Ricki Lake, Oprah or Sally Jessie Rafael.

Ricki was very nice to everyone before taking the stage. Another star that's truly genuine and down-to-earth. None of these ladies had chips on their shoulders that said, "I feel like I'm better than you." Meeting Ricki and the other stars felt more like meeting an old friend that you'd known for years. They are all very real and very sweet.

Ricki has that girl-next-door personality and she is very down to earth. She came dressed in a tee shirt, skirt and flip flops. She is very "real" and relatable and I love that about her. She also okay with it when I reached out to fluff her hair and fix her hat before a group photo right before the start of the show. Instead of getting all celebrity on me, she stood there like, "All right, go ahead and make me pretty." I wasn't sure if I'd broken some unspoken rule about celebrity etiquette, but she was totally unabashed by it. She is unpretentious and very laid back. She's not someone that lords it over others saying, "I'm a star....treat me like one!" Instead, she's reachable and real.

I'm so glad that I got the chance to meet her!

Some other ladies sharing the Keynote stage are the fashionistas that were part of the weekend's fashion show. These girls walked with confidence and purpose and every swagger down the runway said, "Look at me. I am gorgeous!"

And this lady brought down the house--there was such a loud uproar of hooting and hollering. She brought a lot of sass with her class. Classy and sassy all in one. Total diva! I loved her and everyone else did too! ; )

Throughout the entire weekend, I loved seeing this one thing:

{ Happiness + Togetherness}

Ladies, if you've been considering coming to one of the Ultimate Women's EXPOs, then come to the next event! You'll be so glad you did! Where else can you so freely be pampered like a Princess, learn the confidence of a Diva and how to dress as fashionably as a Fashionista? Don't you deserve it?

Grab a group of your favorite gal pals and I'll see you at the next event!

For more information, visit the Ultimate Women's EXPO website:

Q + A:
Will I be seeing you at the next Ultimate Women's EXPO?

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