~ Pardon me while I do some tooting ~

Writing this post is about as awkward as filling out the about me section on a website.   Nobody likes to talk about themselves, or toot their own horn, for the fear of looking pompous or arrogant.  However, some really cool things have happened to me the past few weeks and not talking about them would be a total disservice to those who have recognized me.  

So pardon me, while a little horn tooting goes on...here we go, toot toot.

About 2 weeks ago I received an e-mail from The Knot (Website and Magazine) recognizing me on their list of the "Best of Photographers" for the St. Louis and Southern Illinois region.  It's a huge honor to be on the short list of those who were picked.  The formal announcement and awards will be handed out next month.  I also won the award in 2010 and I smile every time I see it sitting on my desk. 

The Knot is a great resource and tool for brides throughout their wedding planning process.  I even used them when I planned my own wedding 8 years ago.  

Then, last weekend, I attended the SEEN awards held at Studio Altuis in Maplewood.   So, what is SEEN? 

It's the one and only St. Louis Photographers competition and awards.    Sort of like our own local Emmy's  :)   Actually, ALIVE Magazine listed as their top ten things to do this month and they explained it much better than me here.

The SEEN awards this year had 16 categories ranging from weddings and children, to floral and landscape.  Nearly 200 photographs were in the show total.   I was nominated in 3 categories.   Wedding, Children and Babies.  Each category has a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place and then there is a Grand Champion winner of the entire show. 

I spent the last 48 hours before the show throwing myself a pity party.  I was all sorts of crabby.  I literally hung my head back in the passenger seat of my husbands car and whined "But I don't want to gooooo"  

You see, my husband and I mixed up our calendars and he had to work.  He was my date which left me with nobody to go with.  I was only going to know 1 or 2 people there, I was sure I wasn't going to win anything and  I didn't want to bother anyone last minute and beg them to hang out with me for the night. I seriously wanted to stamp the word LOSER across my forehead. I'm kind of dramatic like that.

Besides, I've been to this awards banquet before, and it's a real slice of humble pie.  The work is Ah-mazing.  Seriously, I just whine louder at each photo I pass "Why don't my photos look like that"  

My Mom caught wind of my pity party and was having none of it.  She called me and said "Me and Paw Paw (My Dad) are going to come with you to that photo thing tonight" - Lovely.

If I thought going by myself was going to make me look dorky, then surely taking my parents wasn't going to gain me any extra cool points either. 

I also got a text from my beautiful friend Stephanie just hours before saying she was going to meet me there and I almost did jumping jacks.

Before I left I stood in the kitchen and joked with my husband and showed him my "Gracious Loser Face" that I learned from Joey on Friends.

So me and my parents pile in my car and head out in the pouring rain.  I warned them 15 times "Mom, you cannot get mad if I don't win, seriously, you guys have to behave and act normal tonight",  she is just a little biased when it comes to anything I do and it would not be unlike here to stage her own protest and hunt down the judges if she felt her baby was wronged. 

I didn't need to use my gracious loser face.

I'm going to cut to the chase here.  

I won the whole damn thing. 

If this were a toddler beauty pageant I would be the "High Point Princess" and if it were the American Kennel Dog show I would be "Best in Show".  

In photography terms I won 1st place in the Babies division.  1st and 2nd place in the Weddings division and ...drumroll....Grand Champion of the entire event.

(1st Place Babies Division)

(2nd place Wedding Division)
(1st Place Weddings and Grand Champion)

I almost peed my pants.  This is a place where the fancy golf clap is a little more appropriate than fist pumping, but if you would have saw the way myself, my parents, and Stephanie were jumping up and down and screaming you would have thought I just got voted prom queen. 

I pour my heart and my soul into my job hoping and praying that people appreciate it.  I have good and bad days just like everybody else.   To have someone else from the outside recognize my work in such a public way makes me want to cry.

Look, I knew that snow image was going to be a strong contender in the wedding division, I am very, very proud of it.   But never in a million-gazillion years did I think for a second I was going to win the grand prize.  

I won $600 in cash and prizes, but the biggest prize of all was the swagger baby :)  It was the little kick I needed to not be so hard on myself all the time, to hold my head up a little higher, and sit back and relax and enjoy a the recognition for a job I work very hard at. 

Thank you to Dave and the Judges and the Studio Altuis team who put this all together.  

For anyone who lives in my mama's hometown I am going to apologize in advance for the next 3-4 months because this is all she is going to talk about.   She is proud, just smile and nod. :)

I'm so incredibly excited to be a photographer, to see where this industry is headed and what adventures my job will take me to next. 

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