Please forgive me… it’s been over two weeks since I last posted and this has probably been the longest I’ve gone in between posts since we went on our two week honeymoon over 5 years ago! I keep telling people that we’re still in survival mode, but Isabella is 6 weeks old. Surely I’ll be coming out of this fog soon… right? :-)
One of the things that helped me get through the first few weeks of her life and those multiple middle of the night feedings was the annual Shoot & Share photo contest. It was the same thing that helped me through Catherine’s newborn days and part of me was really sad when voting was over because what was I going to do now??
I won’t go into the full history of Showit and PASS and Shoot & Share, but let’s just say that I’ve been with all of them for a good bit of time now and I completely believe in all of them. The Shoot & Share contest started in 2014 and I’ve entered every year. And each year the photos just get better and better. It’s a free contest open to anyone from anywhere in the world and each person can enter up to 50 photos. This year there were 25 categories you could enter photos into so I submitted 50 images into 13 different categories.
Once the voting is open, anyone can vote. Kids, teens, adults, senior citizens, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve ever held a camera or not! If you can operate a computer, you can vote. The way it works is that four images from one category pop up at a time. You choose your favorite of the four and then four more pop up. This literally keeps going forever, which quickly and easily causes an addiction… the best part is that no names or logos or any photographer information is associated with the photos so you aren’t voting for the photographer (as many contests end up being popularity contests), you’re voting for JUST the image. So it’s 100% fair!
Each year, I learn lots of different things as I spend hours upon hours voting. And 2017 was no different. So, since I love some bullet points, here are the lessons I learned from this year’s contest:
- If succulents are in a ring shot, there’s a 99% chance I’m going to vote for it.
- Cotton fields must be a new thing because there were so many photos in cotton fields! So beautiful!
- Wanderlust was by far my favorite category… give me all the castles, water scenes and colorful European buildings!
- I really want to spend more time with the groom on a wedding day. There were some incredible shots of these guys and it’s as much their day as it is the bride’s. And I really don’t think my brides would mind some epic shots of their men :-)
- I want and need to change how I shoot first dances. I’ve become stagnant in where I stand and what I capture (none of which is bad!), but I’m realizing I want to be more creative than I have been in the past.
- It’s been on my To-Do list for ages but I REAAAALLLLY want to get a styled shoot together. But I need to figure out the WHY behind doing it so that it’s more than just a reason to get some pretty photos. I think once I figure that part out, then I’ll have an easier time making it happen.
- Naked babies are the cutest thing in the world. That is all.
- Photos with people genuinely laughing will always bring a smile to my face! Which is why I love capturing those for my own couples :-)
- Older couples who have been together for decades actually cause my heart to grow. It’s a fact.
- I’ve already started a list of photos to enter into the 2018 contest. It’s never too early to start preparing!
So, which of my photos did I enter? Well, I’m not going to post all 50, but I will share the ones that made it into at least the top 30% of their categories. I’m always so excited to see any of my images do well because it still reflects back to my couples who allow me to do what I love! So, it’s fun for me to see their memories rewarded too!
I SCREAMED when I saw this one won 4th place! Never in a million years did I expect any image to do so well!! This was from Brandon and Colleen’s Clemson wedding and I’m still so excited! There were 7,635 photos entered into the Details: Cake, Flowers & Decor category and this one won 4th! Ahh!
And this dreamy trike with its basket of flowers from Amy & Andrew’s Charleston wedding? It was in the Top 100 of the same category! What?!? So exciting!
Images that were named “Finalists” made it to the last round (Round 12) of the contest.
This year THREE of my photos were Finalists!
To give you an idea of how much this contest has grown, in 2015, the “Details: Ring Shot” category had 3,170 photos entered and one of my images made it to 22nd place. I was THRILLED!! In 2017, there were 8,304 photos submitted to the Ring Shot category (yes, it almost tripled!), so to have one of my photos make it to the final round in this category was amazing!!
I’m telling you, if no other of my photos had gotten past the first round besides the one that was 4th place, it wouldn’t have mattered. Even if none of my photos had placed at all, it wouldn’t have mattered because I do what I do for my couples, not to win contests.
But to have several be in the top 10%, 20% and 30% of their categories was so much fun! I’m telling you… my couples keep upping their game and I am so excited to keep documenting memories for them! If 2016 was this incredible, I can’t WAIT to see what 2017 holds!