For the past three years I have submitted images for the Shoot & Share contest. Every year, I have to go to a special place of vulnerability having others look at my work. Having my images shown along with other incredibly talented photographers can have me in a self doubt game in no time. What I love most about this contest is that it is truly fair and square. You have to submit your work without watermarks. Images are displayed four random images at a time and when you vote on images, you are voting simply for which image you like best out of the four in that particular category. So there’s no popularity contest and no turning to social media to drum up support if you have a large following.

It is also the quickest way to get caught up in voting for hours. I tell myself I’m giving myself 10 minutes to vote and then an hour later, I’ve realized that I’ve fallen victim to how addictive it is. I can’t help but be inspired by the work of others and in awe of their work. Each year the contest gets harder and harder. I’m still is disbelief that one of my images received 13th place last year when 225,000 images were submitted. This year, over 330,000 images were entered, over 104,3784 people voted from 141 different countries, and over 49 MILLION votes were cast…talk about intimidating.

There are several different categories such as newborn, senior, families, children, etc. I submitted over 50 images and I’m thrilled that 31 of them were in the Top 30% or higher. As scary as it is to put your work out there, it is also the best encouragement to keep going. To discover others see beauty in your work that you pour your heart into, is the biggest compliment you can give a photographer.

This image performed the best, placing 68th. I think a huge part of it performing so well was the gorgeous subject and her amazing talent.

Landry (my daughter) does it again. Last year she won 13th place and this year it was 72nd. Still one of my very favorite images of her.

These four images were finalists, meaning that they made the top 3.5% of all entries in each category.

The following all placed in the Top 10th, 20th, and 30th percent!

I’m so thankful to have the honor of capturing these images and for all of you who voted for the Shoot & Share contest. Thank you for taking the time to encourage a photographer. That is exactly what we need to keep going.

This beautiful senior is one that I’ve know since she was in 3rd grade so it was hard for me to handle that she’s all grown up and about to graduate! I taught with her sweet mama many years ago and her mom was my mentor teacher. Thank goodness for her getting me through my first year of teaching! Hard to imagine that this is the same little girl who would come and hang out in our classrooms after school. I was looking forward to Nina’s downtown Fort Worth senior session so much! I was fortunate enough to capture her older sister’s photos a couple of years ago too.

Nina is a senior at Paschal High School and what she loves most about high school is hanging out with her friends and meeting new people everyday. Her friends would describe her as humorous, musical,  and unique. She is involved in Key Club, Sister Cities, Choir and she works at a music studio. Nina is most looking forward to graduating and going off to Texas State University this fall. She would love to study International Relations.

Nina’s dream job would involve lots of traveling as she loves to meet people who are different than her. It has been such a delight to see how Nina has grown into the beautiful, successful and kind hearted girl, but with the parents she has, it was only natural for her to be nothing short of amazing.

I can’t wait to see what wonderful things are in store for Nina!

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I was in my photographer happy place at Grace’s Fort Worth Botanical Gardens senior session. I mean, just look at her beauty!? From her smile, to her fabulous hair and clothes it just seemed unfair how easy my job was. Grace and her sweet mom came along for the session. My part was seriously effortless.

At one point, as we’re in the middle of Grace’s senior session, and she’s rocking the Beyonce wind in her hair like a supermodel. We were near a road at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens and I hear someone stop their car, roll down their window and shout to Grace, “YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!” She literally stopped traffic! I think we all need more of those compliments in the world.

Grace is originally from the Congo, lived in France and has lived here in the states for many years and is now a senior. She wanted to incorporate her culture and had a beautiful custom skirt made which I find so fabulous. Anytime we can incorporate something that is meaningful and shows part of a senior’s heritage, I’m all about it.

I absolutely love the images of Grace and her mom. The photos of her mom closing her eyes, oh my goodness, that was all her mom’s genuine expression being in the embrace of her sweet Grace. What a precious image for Grace and her mom to treasure for many years.


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Grace

It’s no secret that I’m slightly obsessed with sunsets. In fact, my kids will stop playing outside, come running inside and scream, “Mom, you’ve got the see the sunset right now in the backyard!” Bahahaha! It’s like they know my love language is sunsets! So silhouette mini sessions were a no brainer for me. I love sunrises too but let’s be real, I love my sleep so I don’t see those as much. 😉

You could even say sunset is my favorite color. There are few things that help me feel the presence of God more than a gorgeous sunrise or sunset.

Some days when I don’t have my big camera and there’s an amazing sunset, I even get bummed. My husband is teaching me to enjoy it without capturing it, but for a photographer you want to capture it forever! #photographerproblems

For the first time ever, I offered sunset mini sessions in the fall. If you haven’t noticed, 5 minutes can make a world of difference when it comes to the sky changing. In that short amount of time, it can go from blue to pink and orange. I only do three session at the very max on silhouette session mini day. I start sessions only 20 minutes before sunset and they are QUICK! They are some of my very favorite sessions because there’s no need for makeup or even stressing about coordinating clothes because no one can even see any of that! Since there’s no outfit fussing and are super quick, dads and kids are huge fans of these sessions.

One of my favorite parts of the silhouette mini sessions is capturing what is meangingful for that particular family. It’s so personal for each family whether it be Disney, baseball, playing, a birthday milestone or even just holding hands. I love how each one tells a family story and each one is unique.

I even found a way to incorporate the moon for a silhouette photo for Halloween this year with my kids Trick-or-treating. It’s one of my very favorites of my own kiddos.

A good sunset will never get boring to me.

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silhouette mini sessions

Elizabeth’s senior session was a really fun one. Her mom came along and it honestly felt more like just hanging out than working. She had just returned from mission trip around the time of our session and to hear about her passion of helping others just absolutely won me over. Elizabeth is a senior at Aledo High School and her senior year is flying by!

One of Elizabeth’s favorite parts of high school is that she just loves the people. She loves the endless amounts of laughter and the endless opportunities to show others the love of Christ. She loves walking down the hallways and getting a hive five from a friend and sitting in class learning something new. Elizabeth says she’s the odd ball when she says that she loves school.

“I honestly enjoy studying and learning and receiving new knowledge. I’m grateful that I have that kind of luxury. I love the people and relationships that high school gave me. I can’t even begin to explain the joy that my teachers and my friends have given me the past four years. I love the atmosphere of high school. I believe there is so much more to life than these few short years, but I believe it can be some of the best years too,” Elizabeth shared.

Elizabeth is an athletic trainer, on National Honor Society and is very involved church youth group.

She is really passionate about loving people. “I want to be a genuine friend and I want to show others the love that Christ has shown me. I want to see people laugh and I want to make people happy. I am passionate about making others feel valued and full of purpose.” I mean how can you not be crazy about a girl with such a big heart?

Her dream job is to work as a nurse with children in a hospital. Some say that is really depressing to work with sick kids, but she just has such a heart for helping other people. She adore kids and wants like 20 of them (she’s totally exaggerating), but she wants a job that allows her to be silly and allows her to love and care for other people.

Elizabeth is going to attend Baylor University this fall. She wants to study nursing and wants to spend the rest of my life caring for others. “I believe God has called me to a field of study that allows me to merge my love for Him and my love for helping others.”

So it makes complete and perfect sense that she was voted “Most likely to Brighten your Day” by her fellow classmates. We need more Elizabeths in the world.