When It All Comes Together
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Monday, February 13, 2017
By PBJ Studio
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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.  

  •          1st Place in Illustrative
  •          Best in Show for the General Category
  •          A judge’s ribbon with a personal note written on the back loaded with encouragement in future endeavors.

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

Leave a comment:
Jon Schallert - Janene! SO COOL!! And so proud of you!
Debbie Carden - Wow Janene!
The more I see of your work the more blown away I am! I am so grateful and excited to work with you and for you!
Chris B - You're awesome and congratulations!!!!!!!