I’m not even sure how to start this post. Its a bit humble and probably a lot of bragging but hopefully not on my part but of those who I photograph. It’s image competition time. When I started Susan B. Photography back in 2006, I never wanted a photography business. I wanted to create really cool holiday cards. That’s it. Then I became a business that created amazing holiday cards with photos of families in them. I’m now a photographer! I took online classes, signed up for numerous groups, meet-ups and learned all I could about lighting, poses and location, location, location and to this day – I’m still learning all those things. But at one point as I was struggling to make this business grow, my peers around me were entering image competitions. I didn’t think I was ready for that and I have held off on that area for most of my years in business. To have master photographers who know their craft judge you on your image, lighting, posing and editing – intimidating. Pass! Next!

Until the Shoot and Share contest came along. An online international image contest open to everyone. EVERYONE! Yes – YOU! and You! and EVEN YOU!!

I submitted in 2017 and felt comfortable with it that there was no heavy judging but more of emotional judging by thousands of people this could be a way to start. I then entered in 2018 and I knew then I wanted to do more in 2019. Well. I did. Over the past 6 months I have been going to lectures and learning more about the judging aspects of image competitions. What makes a great image, what tells the story. Because in the end, that’s what I do – tell the story of you in images. And that’s the biggest thing… I am not using models for any of these image submissions – they are photos of YOU! The photos you purchase and hang in your home are images that I believe are gorgeous enough to be voted and scored against other amazing photographers.

So how did we do? Because we are in this together… This year I entered 3 different image competitions and luckily all the results are in that I can brag up on each image now! Ready? (this is a long post….)

Senior Year Magazine –

This amazing group started on Instagram. Really! Tagging this account when posting only senior photos, if they were strong enough could be re-featured on their account which is viewed by over 15 thousand other photographers! They created a Facebook page that allows other photographers to learn from each other and it was then decided to compile the best of the best of 2019 and make an actual printed magazine of those images. I submitted 15 images and what has now been named “The Storm” – 2019 Legend Senior – Hannah H. image was selected to be in the magazine. Over 4,000 images were submitted, the print magazine became so big that they had to print it in 2 volumes (180 pages each) and only 200 photographers are featured.

Shoot and Share 2019
This is a favorite of mine. This is the online competition that anyone can participate in. This year I even convinced my daughter Jennifer, a growing photographer and her boyfriend Andrew who does amazing drone photography to enter. Over the course of February every 2 days based on voting, the bottom 10% of images in each category were eliminated and then those still remaining went to the next round and then repeat every 2 days. Random categories would appear, I would vote on the image I liked out of 4 images displayed and then another set of images in a category would appear to vote on. I voted on weddings, brides, families, babies, wanderlust, whatever the category appeared on my screen. If you really liked an image, you could ‘heart’ the image and then see how it places at the end of the contest. I was able to see how I was sorta of doing as there were hearts on my login panel meaning someone liked my photo. Last year I had 40 other people liked one or more of my images and this year I had 49, my daughter Jennifer would reach 79 for her first time trying! Again – we would not know till a month later how we really did, we had daily phone calls to see which images were still in and talk about what we had seen for the day.

Here are the stats: 583,150 images from around the world were submitted (412,379 last year). There was a total of over 90 million votes. Pretty cool huh? During the times I had time to vote, a few of my images came across my voting panel – which of course I would vote on. Based on the hearts I received daily gave me a clue that I was still making it in the rounds. A few other photographers and I would look out for each other so that was another indicator that I had images in. Out of 12 rounds with voting all of February in place I made it to Round 10 out of 12. I stopped receiving hearts shortly after round 10 and as the images were being eliminated – the top images were being repeated a lot and I was not seeing any of my work. Was I concerned about Jennifer or Andrew beating me? Only in the ‘hearts’ area – both of them submitted in different categories that we were not competing against each other but I welcome the challenge. 🙂

Ready to see the results? I have the top images that placed (that actually receive an ‘award’ on the image for placement) – I will give the details about each image and then see the gallery below of the entire set I submitted. If you see your photo and you’re like “WHAT? I DIDN’T PLACE?” Trust me – I said that a lot and my fellow photographers did too! But you might have received a heart but not enough votes to make it to the next round. What my first real fear is that I would not make it past round 1 AT ALL so I’m happy to say – yes, all my images made it past round 1 and more than half went to round 2 before being eliminated based on votes. If you didn’t see your photo at all, I love you, I really do but I could only pick 50 (and I entered 40) so I had to be picky… next year!

Top 30%

Round 7/12 Placed 11,129 out of 39,136 images in the Category – Teens & Seniors
2019 Chaparral High School Senior – Hannah R. There was actually 10,000 more images in the senior category this year so making it to the top 30%, 20% and 10% is a big deal for me. I can remember when I captured this image of Hannah, which was near the end of her session that this was going to be a favorite of mine. The look, the pose and the slight smile just takes you in and you want to be friends with Hannah. You want to be there, having fun with her. We did have fun. 🙂

Round 8/12 Placed 5,106 out of 24,540 images in the Category – Pets & Animals
Yes! Our Dixie made it into the contest! So did Maggie (Jennifer’s) and Nala (Andrew’s) dogs but they didn’t rank as high. The funny thing is, I never saw Dixie in the voting process. With over 583,000 images – the odds are slim but Pets & Animals was a smaller category. And when you see all the photo submissions below – you’ll see Nala and Maggie had their own style so I’m excited that I entered into this category and will admit – wrangling 3 dogs for a quick session is not easy. For something different this year, I also entered the categories of Travel and Cell Phone Photography.

Top 20%

Round 9/12 Placed 48,000 out of 39,136 images in the Category – Teens & Seniors
2019 Eaglecrest High School Senior Jasleen V. The RhiNo district in downtown Denver has become a hot spot for me lately with seniors. Going down the street for graphti wall images is exciting and fun. Jasleen has these amazing eyes and I really wanted to go to the edge with her and so to keep her clean (we are in an alley…) I leaned her against a dumpster full of graphti. Yes! A dumpster! Edgy pays off… 🙂

Round 9/12 Placed 4,738 out of 39,136 images in the Category – Teens & Seniors
2019 Legend High School Senior Lauren B. Sometimes not looking at the photographer is the best image. You are not required during the entire session to be looking at the camera. Lauren did this time and time again and I just loved it. So sophisticated, so model-ish, so her.

Top 10%

Round 10/12 Placed 3,717 out of 39,136 images in the Category – Teens & Seniors
2019 Legend High School Senior Taylor P. – And then sometimes an image that gives the impression that you are ‘just there’, cool, relaxed and being you can set the world on fire. Posing, lighting and Taylor’s clothing pulled this off and it’s one of her favorites (and obviously mine!). The interesting fact about Taylor, Lauren and Hannah H (The Storm) – they all work together! They are all good friends. How lucky am I to photograph them and they each place high in competition?

Round 10/12 Placed 2,644 out of 39,136 images in the Category – Teens & Seniors
2019 Legend High School Senior Samantha S. This is my highest performing image of the year for this contest. I can’t tell you how excited I was when Samantha’s mom called me and asked if I was open to photographing her in a record store. A record store! It was on my check list of things to photograph (Senior – record store) and again, posing, lighting and Samantha’s choice of clothes and we took it a step further, her favorite bands that she liked to listen to… pulls this image off. Well done Samantha. Well done.

Are you in awe too? Yes – me too.

But we are not done yet… one more image competition result –

The Portrait Masters

This one stands out a bit more. Yes, you have seen this image numerous times. It’s 2016 Legend High School Senior Jill W. She was in the 2017 Shoot and Share contest and placed in the Top 10%. This image in my own personal of favorites in my top 10. I can remember posing Jill on the grass and telling her to relax, take a slow deep breath and look at me and we got this. Connection. It’s one of those moments where I step back and wonder what the heck just happened.

With the Portrait Masters – there is scoring going on. Actual judging. Lighting, posing, editing and most of all – connection. Did Jill connect with me for that second. Yes. Yes she did. When I enter this event, I’m receiving merits on the images that I submit. Based on the scores that will eventually earn me a certification. This is a big one for me. To receive my first Bronze (Bronze, Silver and Gold being the highest) is pretty amazing.

I can’t even begin to say but a simple thank you for letting me be your photographer when I suggest “just one more shot”… and we create magic like this.

Take a look at the entire set of images I submitted for the Shoot and Share…