When I come out of the busy season (which, for senior portrait photographers in the South is pretty much October through April), I find myself reflecting on my accomplishments, failures, and everything in between. Every moment I run this business, I learn, which in turn makes me a better business owner and photographer to serve the Baton Rouge community.
I was blessed this year to work with amazing VIP seniors (my models and muses!) and their families, and have a group of senior portrait clients that trusted me to capture a precious time in their lives.
This year I also began to submit work to small competitions, and one very big competition: Shoot & Share‘s annual photo contest. Entering photographic competitions can be intimidating, especially when there are so many other talented artists out there! I knew if I wanted to continue to grow in my art, I needed to challenge myself and open myself to constructive criticism from other professionals.
And while it was nerve wracking to put myself out there, the gains and rewards have been amazing. In my first year as a Shoot & Share entrant, I managed to snag four top 30 percent, five top 20 percent, seven top 10 percent, had another image as a finalist, and one top 20 image.
I realized that the images that performed the best were ones I created from a place deep within me, a real and true place. They were images that helped me work through my own emotions. Images that helped me work through troubling times in my city and state. They connected me to a greater experience.
As I prepare for a new group of seniors and clients, I look back at what was created and am very humbled at how well it was received. I pray that I can continue to push the limits of my art with the artful and soulful young people that have trusted me with their visage this year.
My 11th place win in the “Personal Work” category is one that is especially meaningful to me. In August 2016, Baton Rouge was hit with record-shattering rainfall and flooding. Dozens of people reached out to me to help them save their family photos. Some were salvageable, others were not. I couldn’t bear to discard the photos that were damaged beyond recognition, so I repurposed them into an art piece. My daughter stands before the wings here, a guardian angel for all the memories of things we lost in the flood.
This piece not only placed 11th out of 11,400 entries in the category, but it was also featured in October’s issue of 225 Magazine. When I first picked up the article and read it, tears sprang into my eyes. The realization of what I was doing was overwhelming. I continue, even in May 2017, to salvage, scan and retouch damaged photos… and repurpose the unsalvageable ones into things of beauty, like these pendants.
I am humbled and happy to be able to do what I do. No other path I have taken has fulfilled me quite like being an artist.