It’s that time of year, again…already! Crazy how time flies. This was my third year of entering prints into the Tennessee State Fair photography competition. Each of the images that I entered have a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to share more about each one!

No way?! Patrick, my fiance, and I turned around the corner and I saw one of my prints hanging in the section that I knew they awarded honors to. I figured I had received something special for one of my entries. Little did I know I would be blown away to see that I had be awarded Photographer of the Year! It’s hard to put yourself out there to be judged. I still struggle with it; but, each time it pushes me in the best way. I learn something new about myself each time. It inspires me to not only be better, but to appreciate myself a little, when I tend to be very hard on myself. 

In a previous life, I danced. I still try to take classes here and there and explore movement in many different ways…one of those has quickly become my love of photographing dancers. Creating portraits that draw you in with lines, movement, expressions, and colors (even a classic black and white)! While I was choosing a B&W image to enter, this one kept drawing me back in. The simplicity that highlighted Jessica really made this portrait so powerful to me. She’s strong, yet feminine. Graceful and powerful. My session with Jessica really made me want to continue exploring dance portraits; and I look forward to those sessions to come!

I photographed Olivia during a photographer’s meet-up. You may have read my blog posts about that. I submitted this image because truthfully I was proud of capturing it in such a quick and semi hectic amount of time. With so many other photographers photographing models, our time together was very short…but I was so proud to be able to capture such a stunning portrait so quickly. It was a different style than I was used to but it meant a lot to me, and for that, I knew it would be one of my four!

This image was taken while I was on top of the Empire State Building in New York City. I was literally moved to tears while I was up there. So many emotions and feelings that I couldn’t hold in. Naturally, this image spoke to me. We are all so small in this big world, but we are all so important to it.

I hadn’t created a composite since…sigh…last year’s fair. Eek! I don’t know why…self doubt…stress…I don’t know what exactly stopped me. I wrote this when I shared the final version on my Instagram page, I will share it here as my thoughts still ring so true:
“It’s been a while (too long, actually) since I’ve done a composite. I’m entering a few of my images in the TN State Fair again this year. After last year’s contest, I had every intention on planning ahead, printing early, creating art for the competition…and, let’s be honest, life happened. So, here I am… pulling some pieces together LOL 3 of the 4 prints I’m entering are from sessions I’ve done this year. I still like this idea because I’m literally being judged on what I normally do, not what I’ve created to be judged, so I think that is a good thing. This conceptual concept is something I’ve wanted to do, but now this contest gave me the ‘deadline’ to get it done.
I created this yesterday, after the eclipse – can we talk about how that was the most amazing thing I’ve ever witnessed?! Anyone else?! It was late at night and I was tweaking some last minute curves and then *bam* I just started crying. It really came together quite perfectly on an amazing day. My thought behind this piece was the idea that sometimes we have to pull ourselves out of a funk, because no one else can. I lean on God for a lot, but sometimes I feel like God tells me to stand up, brush myself off, and keep moving forward…and there’s nothing anyone can do to get me out of feeling down, I have to do it. It’s really hard. I struggle with depression and it’s daily, sometimes, where I have to be the one to say “no” and to do something myself about it. I wasn’t sure if that would translate into a self portrait…but, for me, it turned out better than I imagined.
I hope you enjoy it, as well.”
I’m really proud to have created it and it reminded me to create…even if I don’t finish, even if I don’t like it, even if I don’t have a proper deadline. So, it’s time to take those sketches and start creating more!

Here are the images I took to create the final composite:

To say I’m still in awe is an understatement. As a creative, I know I will be pushed in many new ways, but I truly believe that if I stick to what I believe is right and what I believe is beautiful, then no matter what I will feel ok.
Thank you Tennessee State Fair…you made this girl’s year!

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