It was a wonderful and wild weekend at the Kansas Professional Photographers Association’s (KPPA) annual winter conference this weekend. I unexpectedly came home with some heavy glass and a bit of ribbon that said I did awesome with my Illustrative piece called Scattered Showers with a Chance of Flowers.
Here are the separate pieces for this image which I photographed and Photoshopped and brought together.
Here is my Steampunk model/son-in-law TJ yawning because my daughter blessed him with new daughter, Quinn, in August and we were at the studio taking newborn portraits.
Creating something weird and wonderful is a step out of my usual forte. I’m the kid in the class who does the project exactly as the teacher specified so I can get the A+. It wasn’t until I was in a college graphics design course that I realized that I was the loser with this attitude. Next to me was the kid who didn’t care what the project was because he had a better idea. He was the real winner in the creative world with his C-. (Learning Secret #205: the teacher doesn’t know everything. You can learn a lot about art from the oddly-dressed student next to you.)
Last September, I thought I’d try and see what Steampunk in a sunflower field would look like. With a $50 investment in props and a willing model, I thought I’d try. The field was mud from a day of rain so we were wet, filthy and exhausted by nightfall. I dragged my muddied equipment home and dropped it just inside the studio door where it was promptly removed in the night by a thief who thought to try and see if there was anything worth snagging in an unlocked business. Just enough value to be under the insurance deductible. Go figure.
I wanted to curl up and cry and shake my fist at the world, but there was no time. So I took my hard-earned profits from sunflower field family sessions and replaced it and jumped into fall senior sessions and fairies.
Competition was coming, but it always seemed far enough ahead that I’d have time to chew over things and settle into feeling confident about my submissions. Suddenly, our digital files were due by midnight and I wasn’t ready.
KPPA is an amazing organization with very talented professional photographers who are committed to helping their fellow Kansans reach higher in their creativity and succeed in business more than they ever could have imagined (KPPA: click here for more info). I was emailing, texting, Facebook messaging and calling fellow members and mentors on Super Bowl Sunday to ask critical questions like… Sunflower Seeds or No Sunflower Seeds?
So when we sat in the darkened room last Friday for judging and this image was projected on the wall, there were quite a few who knew I was the creator. Then the judging panel from states as far as Florida pointed out this and that and said things like Weird, Wonderful and Monty Python-esque. They scored and a tally was given.
Now friends, this is score is very important. It speaks volumes. If you know me well, then you know that I don’t like numbers. But this number was special. It gives voice for this art work. It shouts out.
“I need to go to Nationals!”“I need to be made into prints because people will want to buy me!”“I came from a confident creative who knew what they were doing!”
But it was just little old me sitting in the dark not breathing. There was a collective gasp from all the ones who were in the know because they’d taken time from their families and the Super Bowl game to give me advice, pounded my back and hugged me. We were a team and with their encouragement I was being lifted up on the shoulders of those whose work I admired. The next day the lights were on at the annual banquet and I was given glass and ribbons, while cheers and a camera flashed as I attempted to appear cool, calm and professional (which I failed miserably in to everyone’s delight).
Thank you everyone for your overwhelming response in Facebook. I love you all.
Here’s a little happy video to enjoy that sings of rain and seeds and God’s goodness.
Johnny Appleseed Song
You deserve it!
The ladies at Zumba crowded around to give their support.
A voice on the fringe of the group who wondered at the commotion, squealed, “You’re pregnant!?!”
Ummmm, NO. Hold the Presses! I need to clarify.
Last weekend, I won two photography awards.
When I planned to attend the Kansas Professional Photographers Association (KPPA) Shutter Expo in Manhattan, KS, I knew that they encouraged submissions of your best photography. I was to enter 4 works, give them titles and have them placed on display to be discussed and rated before the best of the best veteran photographers. The categories were Men, Women, Children, Pets, Wedding, etc.
So I decided to be brave and took the heart-pounding plunge.
In the darkened room, our images were projected onto a wall. The title was announced. Judges entered in the scores electronically. The tally average was announced. If one of the judges wanted to question the score, there was an open discussion between them about the merits of the work and the problem areas they identified. Anything that garnered a 79 was brought again before the judges and an opportunity was made for further discussion and a rescore.
When my image, Melancholy MayShell, projected I felt like a spot light was on me. But no. Nobody knew the artist so I was there in the dark listening to the best teachers in photography talk about what they liked and disliked about it. In those few moments, I grew by leaps and bounds as an artist. What was wrong could be corrected and what was good, could be made great.
Originally, I hadn’t planned to attend the awards banquet. But after that first day of judging, I realized the benefits of making connections with people who would continue to influence me in improving my art and teach me how to grow a successful business in a small town. My focus was to memorize name tags. I had no idea that the night would result in trophies. I received the highest combined score for a Newcomer and 2nd place in women's portraiture! Artists whose works take my breath away, came and pounded me with congratulations and encouragement.
I find that something monumental has shifted deep inside my heart. For so many years, I have worked in solitary and used sales figures alone to gauge my value in the marketplace. I always wanted to have a successful studio, but now I truly want to be a great artist. I want to learn how to tell a photographic story that will timelessly hang in the heart and minds of my community, as well as on their walls.
So yes, I am birthing -- not a child, but a great passion. It is a passion that will direct my life and bring endless creative challenges. When I start to waver, I will look at these stone-cold awards and know without a doubt that with a bit of bravery, I really can do it.