A Contest To Remember!

412,379 Photos.

115,097 Voters.

127 Different Countries.

These are the details of the recent photography competition I entered into.

It was my first competition and I had no idea how I’d come out. I am astonished with how well Lifesong Photography & Designs compared with the AMAZING talent from around the globe! 

In this particular competition, you have no idea who’s images are who’s.  In addition to it all, you have no idea if your own images are still in the race to the top of the heap unless you or someone you know well sees your work! However, it is fun when you recognize fellow ‘togs work and let them know their image was still in the competition! I even found an INCREDIBLE photographer from my hometown who is AMAZING and reached the top 100 of ALL entered images!! These are the moments I KNOW God is at work in my life. These feelings of purpose and inspiration drive me to do more and be more for my family. 

The images I entered are in this video (made for all contestants by ViVi)!

 

Well, as for the results of Lifesong Photography & Designs… here they are!

One FINALIST image

Two images in the top 10%

Two images in the top 20%

TEN images in the top 30%

Four images in the top 40%

That is 15 images in the top 30% and it makes for a total of 26 images in the top 50% of the competition out of the total 50 images I entered!! Let’s not forget, if it were not for YOU, I would be nowhere. THANK YOU, my dear clients and friends!!

I am humbled to see where I have landed this year and am so excited to see how I can grow in this industry. The images which made the most impact on the competition (the top 40% or better) are below but EACH of the 50 images I entered I am PROUD to claim as mine. 

A competition such as this allows me to grow, be inspired AND seek out other photographers to chat with. Thank you to the Shoot & Share competition team for making these successes possible.

THE FINALIST IMAGE

THE TOP 10%

THE TOP 20%

THE TOP 30%

THE TOP 40%

(This one, my Alaskan moon hit the 30.1 percentile: SO close to the top 30%!!)

Travel “Tog”: Aloha Japan

If there is one thing I love most about photography, it is its ability to transform YOU as a photographer. God seems to use the subjects you see through your lens and the experiences you encounter to prepare you for circumstances you never knew you’d be a part of. These past two years I have thoroughly enjoyed traveling and photographing while “mom-ing”.

Traveling from Hawaii to Japan (and then onward to Alaska–but I will save that fun for another blog), makes the Pacific seem a little smaller now. It was a really incredible experience and I am beyond thrilled I was able to have those memories with and of my, then two year old, daughter.

I was able to teach her things that only adventuring provides the opportunity for.

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Not to mention, only touring on our two feet allows for the kind of chats we had. The depth, the emotion, the understanding of one another’s minds; indescribable.

Living amongst history at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, I always found the stories intriguing. The longer I am somewhere, the more I want to peel back the cultural layers. Japan was the same way. We were able to talk about the way God molds us to be different and share those differences with one another to become a unit, His hands and feet.

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We traveled the island a lot by foot, averaging about 4.5 miles a day, with one day over 7 miles round trip. We met a lot of people on our travels, some who spoke minimal English, which Haisley found very amusing.

We also used a local service to take us longer distances as well as some wonderful friends when they had the time.

There was one aspect of Okinawa I found most surprising, the lack of flags I found. When I travel I have a few “bucket list” shots I always want to snap. One of those for Japan was a Japanese flag being flown. I felt that it would bring the stories of the attack of Pearl Harbor full circle for me. I was astonished when by day three on Okinawa I still had yet to find a flag, at all…anywhere. It wasn’t until the nineth day (after purposeful looking) I saw my first Japanese flag. I am sure there had to be more which I didn’t ever see, however this took me by surprise so much that I did a little research.

According to one source from 2015, The Stars and Stripes Newspaper in Okinawa, “In Japan, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, concerned about the national flag’s lack of prominence, this year issued a directive strongly encouraging the country’s universities to fly it. But the flag’s long-ago association with the country’s wartime imperialism leaves some uncomfortable.” After seeing this written in different ways by different credible sources across the internet it was made clear. America, especially myself, has a unique stance on the flag and often is viewed as overly flag-happy.

I still do and will always hold our American flag in the highest regard. However, as we travel to other countries, I have really come to understand that we cannot assume those same symbolic meanings are true for all. On the surface, I feel like we all know this but it took me to experience this one situation to really let it sink in. Okinawan’s are proud of their island, but their Japanese flag is not how they show that.

Moments of realization like this is why I travel. It grounds me and gives me the right tools to teach my daughter. It humbles me and allows me to see the full picture as I go about life.

Most of all, the worldly knowledge and friendships I gain make me a better ME.

Never. Stop. Exploring.

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Shout From The Tree Tops!

I am so blessed.

This sentence has become what some consider a cliché or “overused”. Since the statement adopted those labels in our society, it has been much more difficult to express my appreciation of God’s gifts in my life. I find that it offends some, is mocked by others and most of all seems to fall onto deaf ears. 

No more.

I am proud of the blessings God has given my little family. The ability to go into the Christmas week with nothing but excitement is truly a gift from above. I just want to state my appreciation for God’s love and grace to my family in a simplistic way.

All this came to mind as we walked around a local Christmas Tree Farm. As my daughter merrily pranced around the farm choosing the best tree for our new home, I just couldn’t think of a better way to put it than, “I am so blessed”. 

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She had not a care in the world and was eager to learn how to cut down a tree from her incredible daddy and more excited when he let her help!

I have a husband who allowed all of us to enjoy the spirit of the season in matching outfits. A man who, even though the decorating for Christmas isn’t his favorite, he drove where ever we asked to find the perfect tree we could cut down together. A guy who is providing for us in a way that we are able to enter into the holidays with little worry and a very low stress level. 

My want to express how precious I find this life is in great part because I am aware of the struggles some face and also the struggles I may someday endure. Do we have problems and hiccups along the way? OF COURSE WE DO! Those bumps along the way are what make us stronger together and more connected. However, those little potholes in the road are the moments we can learn from and often pale in comparison to what others are experiencing in life at the moment or what may hit us down the road. Most of all, those issues are the times which help the average days feel like we are truly conquering life together. Those problems should also be considered blessings. Some might even call them blessings in disguise.

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My prayers this season always go out to those who need that extra joy in their life, but something is pushing me to write this blog and go one step further. As I pray to God for those who are currently putting their life back together after damage from a wildfire, a flood, a death, a divorce, a sickness or something else, I urge you to help one another to find why you are blessed. What makes you get up each day? What prompts you to smile? Think of that moment, that daily reminder or that happy memory and make your Christmas season the best it can be. Pull those close to you even closer and find the sparkle in the season. Maybe if we all help one another to see the silver lining, instead of making good things into what they are not meant to be, we can pull together for even bigger issues. Find ONE thing you can say you are incredibly blessed with and shout it from the tree-tops!

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After all, isn’t the biggest blessing in each of our lives, the blessing of Jesus? Isn’t the reason for the season, the miracle who came to save us? I will leave you with Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” What a blessing, what an amazing blessing given to all of us. If nothing else, know YOU ARE SO BLESSED because you are a child of God.

Don’t let the mockers take away the love in your heart or the excitement in your body. Be PROUD to love the life you live and be LOUD. Be proud to be “so blessed” and say it over and over again.  Best of wishes to you and your family this CHRISTmas season. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

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(Hats created by Katie’s Creations)