The Shoot & Share Photo Contest 2016

So let’s just be honest – it’s hard to put yourself out there. Whether it’s sharing an idea at work, asking for a first date, or entering a contest. It’s scary to know that you might not get the reaction you’re hoping for.

For me, it’s been even tougher when it comes to putting myself out there in the photography realm. Sure, I share a ton of the photos I take, and some may get more of a reaction/likes/etc. than others, but that’s not really putting myself out there in a serious way.

Entering a contest full of work from tons of super-talented photographers? That’s putting myself (and my work) out there. It’s scary because I love what I do, I love my clients, and I love their stories I’m able to tell, so I’m really invested in those photos.

I’m proud to say that for the past two years, I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and entered my work into the amazing Shoot & Share Photo Contest. This contest is completely anonymous (no names, no watermarks) and chock-full of talent. Once images are submitted and voting begins, 4 images in the same category pop up on the screen and you simply click the one you like the best to place your vote. It gets kind of addicting!

More than 225,000 photos were submitted from all 50 states and 120 different countries. It’s crazy to think that my work gets put up against photographers from around the world, including some of the photographers I look up to (and learn from), like Amy & Jordan, Justin & Mary, & Katelyn James. Completely intimidating? Um….. yes. Pretty cool? Also yes.

The results are in, and I am proud of how my work finished out! Did I win any of the categories? No. Were any of my images finalists? Unfortunately, no. But I did end up with images that scored in the top of their category. I had two images in the top 10%, four images in the top 20%, and 1 in the top 30%. Pretty darn good for my second year entering as a part-time photographer! And it’s an improvement from how my photos ranked last year, which is a win in itself.

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So being the nerd that I am, I of course had to go in and figure out exactly where in the top 10, top 20, top 30 my images ended up… The image above landed at 3.7% in the “Children: Preschool/Toddlers” category that had 18,329 photos submitted!

The ring shot below landed at 6.8% of the 6,514 images submitted to the “Wedding Details: Ring Shot” category.

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This next ring shot was in the top 14%.

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This image of these two adorable guys landed in the top 16%, and the shot of the rings below just squeaked in to the top 20%.

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This image went into the “That Just Happened” category (which was sooooo entertaining to vote on!), and ended up at 16% of the 2,103 images submitted.

Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field

And this sweet one of two of my very most favorite people went into the “Lifestyle” category & was right at the top 25% of the 5,244 images submitted.

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Overall, yes it’s exciting to have images finish in the top percentages of their category, and I’ll be honest and say that it’s somewhat validating to think of that on those days where I fall into the overly-self-critical trap creatives tend to fall into.

But really, the main thing for me in all of this is the pride I have in myself for putting aside the fear and self-doubt and submitting my work. The win for me is continuing to love & serve my amazing clients by capturing real-life moments and getting gorgeous shots of a symbol of love and commitment.

So please don’t read today’s post as a way to praise myself, but more as a reminder that we should always try to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, because the growth that comes from that push is the most important win of all.

Children Portraits – Hadyn & Cade

Pretty soon I won’t be able to title blog posts with these two “children portraits” anymore – they’re growing up so fast!!! I absolutely LOVE when I get to photograph these two, as I’ve been able to take their portraits for years now and it’s so much fun to get to document them as they grow up. Plus they just crack me up and have the best (and biggest) personalities!!

Nacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field area

They are some good lookin’ kids, aren’t they?!?!

Nacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field areaNacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field area

I love snapping the in-between moments when kids are just being themselves, and I love that their mom, Tiffany, always appreciates those more candid photos too! There’s so much to be said for documenting the reality as well as the “money shots” where everyone is looking straight at the camera and smiling.

I told you they’ve got big personalities!! Hahaha these shots of Cade just crack me up. He’s such an expressive kid.

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I just love these next few photos!

Nacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field areaNacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field area

Again – sometimes the in-between moments are my FAVORITES! Love this shot of Hadyn.

Nacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field areaNacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field area

This shot of Cade and that missing tooth? Be still my heart!

Nacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field area

This shoot was even more special because it was Max’s first time coming along as my second shooter. A few months ago he told me he wants to learn photography so that he can help me out at weddings and bring more value to my clients, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I am proud of what he was able to get on his first shoot! And I think he was pretty excited about it too…

Nacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field area

These next few shots are ones that Max took!

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Like I said, the in-between and the reality of kids’ personalities are so important to capture, and photo shoots should be fun – not something you have to just get through… and these two sure know how to have fun! Love that Max was able to see and catch those moments too – his shots are on top and one of mine is on the bottom.

Nacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field areaNacogdoches photographer children portrait session with boy and girl in field area

Hadyn & Cade thanks for always being so fun to photograph!!! Tiffany & Chris, thanks for being like family and letting me photograph you year after year – it means so much to me! And thanks for letting Max come along with us too! We love y’all!

1 Year Portraits – Lila

This family, y’all. This. Family.

I just can’t get enough of them! I am so so so thankful to have been able to take their maternity portraits, and family portraits as little Lila turned 6 months old. They have their hearts in the right place as they focus on God and on each other, and its just beautiful to witness. Plus they’re just darn fun to be around!

I also love that I’ve been able to photograph them in the same location each time, a location tied to their family. And each time I fall even more in love with the way they are with each other.

Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field

I always love seeing little girls in their daddy’s arms… maybe it’s because I see first hand how sweet that is when I see Max holding Peanut & Pumpkin, or maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a daddy’s girl too, I don’t know. But I do know that I love it.

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O my goodness y’all… this little one loves. her. mama. I thought my heart would just melt when Whitney asked Lila to “give her sugars,” and that sweet girl leaned over and planted a big one right on her lips! Nothing like those messy little kisses!

Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field

This moment just stole my heart that day, and it stole it again as I went through the session’s images on my computer. The way Lila is leaning into both her mama and daddy. The look on Whitney’s face as she breathes in her little girl, and breathes in the moment. The look on Chris’ face as he looks at his little one and holds his two girls. The way the light glows like it’s their love radiating out of their bodies. Love it.

Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field
And because y’all know I am big on showing the realistic side of parenthood along with the pretty side… I just had to share this one! Too funny!

Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field

A quick change and it was Lila’s turn to steal the show! Can’t believe she’s one already!!

Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field

That face! So darn cute!
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Can we just talk about that adorable little outfit? The Minnie Mouse shirt. The pink converse. The jean jacket hoodie. And the bow that miraculously stayed in for pretty much the whole shoot!

Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field Nacogdoches photographer fall family and 1 year portrait session in a sunlit field

Happy birthday, Lila! Thanks for sharing those adorable little grins with me! And Whitney & Chris – once again, THANK YOU for letting me be the one to photograph your family. It’s an honor.