Thursday, January 7, 2010

Favorite Image of 2009 contest! - Kansas City Portrait Photograher

EDITED Jan. 22 - Congratulations to "Southern Charm" for win! It will make a beautiful gallery print. Thank you for voting!

Hi everyone! It's snowy and I'm stuck in the house (like many of you, I'm sure), so I dreamed up a Favorite Image of 2009 contest. I am not very good at picking favorites, or "best" images - and I'm always afraid of hurting someone's feelings for being left out. But ... I did it! Here are some of my own favorite images of 2009 - and why I love them.

Please vote for your favorite image (or, who are we kidding - vote for your friend's/co-worker's/family member's family or kids!). Let's keep it fun - please don't stay up until 2 a.m. clicking VOTE, VOTE, VOTE. The poll is located at right, and will close automatically at some point Jan. 21. (I'm not sure why the numbers on the poll are so light, but I've found that you can use your cursor to highlight them and then they are more readable).

The prize? In 2009 I added an item to my product menu that went over BIG with all of you - the gallery prints! The winner will receive a gallery print with the winning image on it! (Choice of 8x10 or 8x12).

With the acknowledgement that I'm leaving out many memorable images and wonderful families, I present the following 15 images for your consideration.

1. Amber's Rock and Roll Maternity. This image has always stood out to me for many reasons. One, because Amber was such a memorable subject and now one of my favorite clients ever; but also because it's the first time I turned my fan on for a maternity session. The results were magic and the look has quickly become a hallmark of my maternity style. I always tell Amber that in my head I've always called this her "Rock and Roll Maternity" image. You can see more maternity images on Center Stage Baby.

2. "Puppies!" Last February I had a "ballerina portrait" mini-session event at the south Overland Park branch of the Academy of the Arts dance studio. So many images from that event were absolutely stunning - beautiful little girls, my new Gale Winds backdrop, dove gray tutus. This image in particular stands out for me simply because of the moment it captures. One of the words I use to get kids to relax and smile naturally is "Puppies." Instead of "Say cheese," I say, "Say puppies!" This little girl had such an adorable reaction when I said that, and I managed to capture the moment with my shutter. I'm holding the same event this year on Feb. 21 - mark your calendars!

3. Mindy's Baby Boy - My entire experience with Mindy and her family was so memorable - I loved every second of it, from the first time I talked with her, to our pre-session consultation at the studio, to her amazing maternity session and finally the baby's newborn session. Such a great family to work with! (I've had a lot of amazing families to work with.) I've always loved this image of Mindy's baby boy - all snuggly, and folded up like a taco! I think it's probably my most memorable newborn image of the year.

4. Vanessa and Jim's Big Adventure - Well, maybe the session wasn't THE "big adventure" - but this picture certainly shows this adventurous married couple's personalities. This session took place just before Jim headed off to Singapore for a few weeks; and Vanessa joined him soon after. This pair proves that couple sessions aren't just for the newly engaged!

5. Little Miss A's Grassy Toes - I have photographed this darling little redhead many times. The most memorable was at her grandparents' farm this past summer. The farm made for an awesome background, and her mom, grandmother and even grandfather participated in the session (when we stopped  his huge John Deere tractor and climbed aboard!), which made it extra special. There's nothing like summer sunset light for portraits and so even though the session was filled with amazing images, I chose this one because of the sunlight behind the trees, and the sweet moment captured as A. leaned over to clean the grass off her toes.

6. Julie's Joy - I first met Julie when she was 36 weeks pregnant with twins, experiencing contractions, and the photographer she chose for her maternity session called her to postpone her session (for the second time!). I was more than happy to do the session for her quickly, and it's been a wonderful relationship ever since.  As twin baby boys always are, the two can be quite a challenge, but Julie always seems to handle motherhood with joy - a fact which I think is perfectly illustrated in this image.

7. Little Miss Sunshine - This little girl is just like sunshine to me - warm and bright and beautiful. This image so perfectly matches the little girl in every way!

8. Southern Charm - With the smocked dress and the charming look on her soft little face, I've always been partial to this image of Elizabeth's baby girl. Isn't she a doll? I so enjoy photographing babies, especially when they can't yet walk. But my favorite part of my business is meeting my clients and getting to know about them and their lives - and my talks with Elizabeth have been enjoyable. So this portrait reminds me of why I love my job.

9. Ashlynn's Farm Session - I so enjoy photographing seniors. And when the subject is someone as gorgeous and sweet as Ashlynn, it's even better. We went on a road trip to a beautiful farm outside of Lawrence (getting lost along the way!) which was great fun, and then at the end of the session, as the sun was sliding towards the horizon, the farm owner's daughter suggested a pasture with yellow flowers as our final portrait destination. The result was stunning!

10. Proof That Sometimes It's Okay to Wait on the "Newborn" Session - Angela called me one day, saying that her baby boys were three months old, and asking if it would still be okay to do a newborn-type session with them. They were still very small - in fact, not too much  bigger than some of the chunky 7-day-olds I had photographed this year! I will always remember this image because it was ordered large on gallery mounting and the resulting print was very impressive (even if it took me a full hour to remove it from the packaging!)

11. Sherry's Blond Beauties - In October was my annual ballerina portrait event at my Shawnee studio. In all, 52 little girls came in front of my backdrop. All were sweet and pretty and the parents were all wonderful to work with. This image stands out in my mind. The session was late on a Friday evening, the little girls still had a lot of energy, and for a while I thought it would be impossible to get all three of them to sit still and look at the camera long enough to get a great portrait. With the help of a relaxed mother and a few dance moms serving as assistants, we did manage to get a gallery full of beautiful images of Sherry's little girls. This one is my favorite of them.

12. Funky Tween Avoids Tutus - This 11-year-old (maybe 12 now?) dancer avoids tutus when at all possible, instead going for hip-hop wear. So when her mom signed her up for a "ballerina" session at the fall mini-session event, there was no mistaking that there would not be any tutu images. She is an expert poser, and gave me some memorable images. I photographed several tweens this year in "fashion" sessions with cute outfits and blowing hair  - those girls are proof that parents should not stop getting custom portraits once their kids turn 6 (like so many people seem to do).

13. The Center of Their World - this great couple dotes on their darling little girl, who I was first lucky enough to photograph last February in a pink tutu and leotard. This session, which we did on mom Lisa's birthday on a beautiful October afternoon, took place at the photographer's favorite - Loose Park. Again, the golden evening light just enhances this warm image that so perfectly shows the parents' love for their child.

14. Amazing Family, Amazing Hair! - Oh how I love this image of this wonderful family that graced my studio in November. Michelle has been a dream to work with and her devotion to her family is inspiring to me. I love to do these poses in the studio when I can get faces very close. This family rocked that pose, and their amazing variation in hair color makes the portrait even more memorable.

15. Mr. Bright Eyes -- One of my last images of the year. I love this little man's mom because she loves modern images, and along with that, she loves more contemporary cropping. I'm with her!

16. Urban Ballerinas - Finally, I present an amazing image from the fall of Shelly's girls. This was taken in Kansas City's West Bottoms, which has become my studio-away-from-the-studio. I shot a lot of sessions there this year and look forward to more. This image is memorable because it was about 42 degrees and these two brave little girls did their best in leotards and tights, shivering between clicks, but smiling and being "on" when they needed to be. Plus, these trucks are some of my favorite West Bottoms "props" and these girls are totally rocking those tutus!