My Dose of Awesome for 2018

So - I entered this photo contest.  Before I tell you how I did - I wanted to tell you about the contest itself.  Most of you think - oh, well photo contests are all about popularity.  Right?  Not this one.  I honestly can't stand those contest where people send you the link to their specific images so you can vote on them so they could win.  That's not a true contest - it's a "who has the most friends that can vote for them" contest.  When I heard about the World's totally free and fair photo contest hosted by Shoot&Share, I immediately wanted to enter. In no way would I be able to ask anyone to vote on my images.  There is a small chance that even I would see my own images in the contest when voting.  I love it. The reason I love this The Photo Contest is because it's a great way to bring the photographic community together and share what we love, our photos!! Photographers from all over the world enter their work into the contest and let me tell you, I was in utter awe by how incredible the photos were that I saw throughout the contest.  There were images that literally put tears in my eyes, while others caused my jaw to drop.  The contest was so inspirational and in the end, has given me motivation to work even harder this year to create some even MORE incredible work!

How the process works:

You log-in to vote.  4 random images (in the same category) pop up on the screen.  You simply click your favorite of those 4 images, and then automatically the next 4 images pop up.  (No names are shown so every photograph is judged solely on it's own merit!)  You do the same - pretty much forever.  It's a great way to use up hours of your life without realizing it!  Every contestant can enter up to 50 images into the contest (there are 25 categories total to enter into.)  I entered all 50 images.  Each round ends when EVERY image in the contest had been viewed and voted on 48 times.  (It's a totally fair method and algorithm).  The top voted images in each round make it to the next round.  There are 12 rounds in the contest.

The Contest Stats for this year:

Total entries: 412,379 photos

Total number people voting: Approx. 125K from 130 Countries

Over 78 MILLION votes were cast

My Personal Photos and Stats

The first time I entered my photographs into the international Shoot & Share contest, was last year.  Although 4 of my images had made it into the top 10% and top 30% of the contest, none of them ever actually made it to the finalist round, let alone made it into the top 20, or at least the top 100 (best of the best).

When it came time to enter into the contest again this year, I felt that my work had grown in the past 12 months and hoped that I'd see improved results - and I was so pleasantly surprised!  Last year I had 4 images in the top 10-30%, this year... I had 20 - yes TWENTY images make it to either top 10, 20, 30%, AND even the finalist round, top 100 AND I had one place 4th PLACE!!  I was utterly shocked.  When the news hit my phone, I startled my husband awake from a deep sleep to tell him of my accomplishment!

Are you finally ready to see my results??  I'll work my way up from Top 30% percent to my 4th place winner!

This senior portrait of my beautiful client, Emily, made it to the TOP 30% in the TEENS & SENIORS category.  If you want to see specifics, it placed 7,835 out of 29,260 entries.  This shot was taken on the boardwalk leading to the beach at Harkness State Park in Waterford, CT.  It was a crazy windy day, but Emily pulled off this gorgeous look, blowing locks and candid smile like none other!

My 2nd Top 30% winner was this stunning photo of Giuliana from the summer of 2016.  This was one of the final shots from our gorgeous boho-styled boudoir session in Woodbury, CT.  There is nothing like the warm August sun toasting up your skin and the perfect amount of breeze so that it's not too hot!  This image placed 3,787 out of 14,733 entries in the PEOPLE PORTRAITS category.

My 3rd image to place in the top 30% of the contest was this creative beauty portrait of a mama celebrating her 40th birthday by treating herself to a shoot.  She brought a LARGE cream colored tulle skirt with her, and combined with my silk flowers, corset, flower crown, and of course, studio swing - we pulled off this dreamy look that placed 2,325 place out of 11,101 entries in the STYLED PORTRAIT/FASHION category.

My last image that placed in the top 30% of the contest was this smile-inducing photo of Leon at the beach (Harkness State Park in Waterford, CT).  We were finishing up his family portrait session but I knew we just had to get a few shots of just him because every mama LOVES to have photos like this of their baby!  This happy image placed 7,696 place out of 35,570 entries in the KIDS category.

Does this gorgeous teen look familiar?  You're right!  One of her images also was above in the top 30%!  This beautiful senior portrait of Emily (also on the beach at Harkness State Park), made it to 5,394 place out of 29,460 entries in the TEENS & SENIORS category.

The 2nd image of mine that made it into the top 20% of the contest was this beautiful black and white silhouette shot of Kelly, the perfectly pregnant, absolutely gorgeous military spouse who couldn't make pregnancy look any more incredible.  This image placed 2,972 out of 18,185 entries in the Maternity category.

This image was the first of my 4 top 10% placing imags.  It was also one of my first beauty portraits I photographed after moving back to Connecticut from Illinois.  My hair and make-up artist, Chelsea (Beauty by Chelsea Dae) did a stunning job creating a super quick up-do for this portrait, and the dress- well that was a lucky find on a garage sale page!  This image placed 1,054 out of 11,101 entries in the STYLED PORTRAIT/FASHION category.

Kelly's maternity photographs, you will notice, seam to be very popular amongst the voters.  When I look at them, they make me want to be pregnant again!  This photograph, also in the top 10% of the contest, placed 956 out of 18,135 entries in the MATERNITY category.

What do you know! Another one of Kelly's maternity images placed.  This image shares an understanding of knowing what is to come, the miracle that is upon her.  This one placed 822 out of 18,135 in the MATERNITY category.

The last image that placed in the top 10% of the contest was one of my personal favorites.  This stunning portrait of Victoria was my first ever milk bath session.  I used powdered milk to create the white milky base in the tub, I grabbed floral bouquets from the grocery store (literally the sale section) and used scissors to cut off the petals into the tub.  It was so dreamy looking!  The lace bralette was a less than $10 purchase from Amazon and the studded crown was provided by my makeup artist, Nicole with Beauty by Mineko!   This image placed 994 out of 11,101 entries in the STYLED PORTRAIT/FASHION category!

Ok - let's talk about the finalist round images!  This means that these images made it all the way to the 12th round of the contest!  This first one is one that melts my heart every time.  It was one of the first shots I got of my sweet baby girl smiling in the NICU, and most likely because she knew that after nearly 100 days she would finally be discharged the following morning!  This shot placed 212 out of 1,998 entries in the PASSION PORTRAITS category.

This maternity image, taken at my studio is one of my favorites from her session.  The light gives me that early morning feeling - you know, when you are pregnant, you woke up this sexy, but you can't go back to sleep sort of feeling haha. ;)  This image placed 112th out of 18,185 in the MATERNITY category!  That's so close to the top 100!

OK... THIS image.  THIS is one of my favorites of all time.  When my daughter was born (3.5 months early), my husband had a really hard time.  He isn't one to share this, but he didn't visit her often.  He said it hurt him too much to see her that way.  It broke my heart, but I understood that every person copes with events like this differently.  I was so thankful to have my camera with me on this day when he came to visit.   This image makes me feel so much.  I can see the pain in his face as he hesitantly and gently embraces our daughter of just under 2lbs, in his large worn hands.  No matter what this image placed, it will always be number 1 in my book.  But if you must know, it placed 193 out of 1,998 entries in the PASSION PORTRAITS category.

The next image that made it into the Finalist round is this sweet photo of Kelly and her adoring hold of her future baby girl. This photograph placed 467 out of 18,185 entries in the MATERNITY category.

While this portrait is surprisingly not one of my favorites (from a technical standpoint), I still get a pang in my heart every time I see it.  This is the VERY FIRST moment I got to hold my daughter skin-to-skin 10 days after she was born.  She was so small and my heart just filled with joy and emotion when I finally got to feel her skin on mine.  My husband helped me grab this shot so although I had the settings set for him, I have to give him some credit too <3  This image was taken in the NICU at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford.  It placed 422 out of 1998 entries in the PASSION PORTRAITS category.

THIS portrait is a favorite amongst so many of my current and potential clients.  It wasn't planned - but my client brought with her a Lularoe wardrobe item called the "Sarah".  It is a long kimono, and hers was so bright and colorful I just had to photograph it.  I don't normally think of Lularoe as a boudoir/beauty portrait wardrobe brand, but I was so excited when we were able to pull this look together, along with that incredible statement necklace (also the client's).  I wanted to showcase both wardrobe items so I chose my fireplace set-up which is bare and minimalistic.  This image placed 342 out of 11,101 entries in the STYLED PORTRAIT/FASHION category.

This is the last finalist image.  I was honestly surprised it didn't make it further, but it was competing against so many other inspirational portraits that told compelling stories.  Before my daughter was born, the doctors promised us she'd be ok.  They said "She's a girl.  She'll be a fighter.  Don't worry mom."  When she was born at 26 weeks on the dot, weighing in at just 1lb 14 oz, she came out SCREAMING.  The nurses told me that is so rare, especially with a preemie so young.  Our daughter busted out of her womb fighting for her life, and I feel like this portrait (taken when she was 3 days old) really shows the fight she has in her sweet little body.  This image of Chase placed 423 out of 1998 in the PASSION PORTRAITS category.

This was the 1st of 2 images that made it to the top 100 (BEST OF THE BEST) in the contest.  This was my husbands FIRST time holding our daughter skin-to-skin and honestly this is another 1st place picture in my mind.  The way she grasped his finger melts my heart. This image placed 83 out of 1998 in the PASSION PORTRAITS category.

This is the 2nd image of Chase that made it to the top 100.  I took this photograph with the intention to share how little Chase really was in comparison to her daddy's hands.  It placed 51 out of 1998 images in the PASSION PORTRAITS category.

Last but not least, my proudest (photography) accomplishment (my children are my proudest life accomplishments), is this portrait of Kelly, my most beautiful maternity client who wanted to commemorate her pregnancy for both herself and her husband since he was serving our country overseas.  She wanted to give him a gift so that he could share in their newest journey from afar.  This image placed 4th out of 18,135 images in the MATERNITY category.

I am going to work hard this year, step up my game, release my creative juices and really try to build some masterpieces to enter in 2019.  This was so much fun and I've been so inspired by the incredible work I've seen over these past few months of voting.  Thank you to all of my friends, family, clients (and haters) who have helped me to get where I am today! <3 I love you ALL.