I’ve been photographing families in Chicago for six years and a member of The National Association of Professional Child Photographers for four years now. I first heard about them when I attended a conference they offered in 2013 located in Charleston, SC. At the time, I was dabbling in photography, taking classes in the evening and photographing clients on the weekend while I educated myself and maintained a “day job”. That conference gave me the confidence and courage I needed to go home and give up corporate life, to be my own boss and determine my own path in life. It’s been a wild ride since May 2013, and the best decision I have ever made for myself and my family. I feel very blessed to be able to work as much or as little as I want and need to support my family and be around to mother my children. I sacrifice sleep and work late to be able to take my kids to school – but I do it because I WANT to. It’s something I’ve chosen for myself instead of someone else choosing it for me. I couldn’t be the professional photographer I am and service my clients to my best ability if it wasn’t for my amazingly flexible and caring nanny. She has saved my butt on more than one occasion.
Image competitions seemed incredibly intimidating when I first started my career. I never thought I would enter one, nor did I think I would care to. As long as my clients were happy, why did I need to enter competitions with other artists that were WAY more talented than me? Well, let me tell you why… you only grow if you push yourself to do so – and one of the ways that artists grow is by being critiqued by other artists. It is easy to get wrapped up in your own little world, servicing clients and forgetting to feed your soul. Somewhere in 2015, I lost my passion because I forgot to feed my soul and what makes me love my profession. I took on too many client sessions and didn’t leave room to play. Now, I use competitions as a reason to pause and remember that the worst place to be is stuck in complacency. I pay to enter my work for others to critique and offer room for improvement, make suggestions, help me refine my voice and my direction. Over the past two years, between NAPCP and WPPI, I have learned a TON about my work, my voice and pushing myself to the next thing. Last year, I was floored to win 1st place in both the NAPCP and WPPI image competitions for the same gorgeous image. I was elated and felt like I had finally “made it”. I was on the map! Now, going into 2017, I felt even more pressure to prove that I wasn’t a “one hit wonder” so to say. I felt nervous and inadequate that I would never place again.
Then, last week, NAPCP released their much anticipated image results from the 2017 January competition. My jaw hit the floor when I learned that one of my images placed 1st in the family category Family Category Winners, and another placed third in the toddler category Toddler Category Winners. I am still in a bit of shock. I feel incredibly proud (and also very lucky) to have received such an incredible honor again. Check out my images below
I’ve learned that not only are competitions important within the industry and amongst other artists; they matter a lot to clients. If a family is going to hire me to invest in their family memories, it is important to them that they can be confident I will deliver a successful session. Like any profession, experience and accolades are justification that you’re worth it. I’m so very humbled by my achievements and excited for the future that this journey holds!