The 2011 Picture of the Year Contest was a first for me. It's a bit of a crazy notion, to slim down the tens of thousands of pictures that I take in a year to one best one. When I come home from a session, I always pretty much ignore everyone until I can get my card downloading and see what I've got. Often I get that little thrill of, "Yes! I got it!" I am not the photographer who has the keenest poses or uses every action possible on editing each photo. In fact, I prefer to get as much as I can spot on when I shoot and then use minimal editing. I want a clean look, I want good lighting, I want balanced composition. Most of all, I want the heart to show.

Families laughing, a mom nuzzling her newborn, a portrait with someone who looks me full on and lets me see them. I want you to look at my photos as one would look in the mirror and say, "That's really us! That's how I feel. That's what I love about my family."

I have been overwhelmed and incredibly blessed by the enormous support that I have felt through this contest (and this past year). The fact that you have shared your pictures, shared my site, and left such generous comments has been so very encouraging. Truly.

Because of your participation: I would like to offer all the clients whose images were featured in this album, $50 off the session fee if booked before April 30. Thank you!

So here are the winnners (hoots, drumrolls, applause, whistles):

First Place: Winning $200 of 2012 session credit or two 16 by 20 canvases.....The McConnell/Miles Family

By the way, the McConnell/ Miles family promised their friends and family a family video for each 10 votes they got. Since they got over 220 and have only produced one video so far, I may need to withhold their prize until they can produce another 21 videos :) ....hehehe.

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Second Place: Winning $100 of 2012 session credit or one 16 by 20 canvas......Josh and Carmen Neal

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Third Place: Winning $75 of 2012 session credit or a framed 11 by 14 image....The Freheit Family

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Fourth Place: Winning a custom made hat from Elijah's Cradle Designs.....the Herring Family (I bet I know who'll be getting the hat).

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Fifth Place: Winning a custom made hat from Elijah's Cradle Designs....the Morriss Family (Since he's the only  guy in the party, maybe dad should get the hat?)

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Lastly, I am going to award my personal favorite. They waited and prayed for Baby Susannah for a long time. The absolute pleasure I see on Erica's face and the giggling little face of her tiny girl as she leans into her mama is just exactly the kind of connection that I adore photographing. Erica and Chris, I am sending you a 16 by 20 canvas of this image :) .

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For all of your huge support in cheering me on the way in 2011, I give all my thanks! I can't wait to spend time with many of you in front of my camera this year!

Winners of the contest, could you please contact me and let me know what you would like for your prizes? Thanks!