Today is the day.
Today is the day I can finally share this big, fat secret I’ve been holding onto for months. And let me just say, it’s been like trying to keep an inflated bouncy castle stuffed in a tiny shoe box.
Give me a minute to put myself back together.
What is the Top 30 Rising Stars? It’s a HUGE accolade. One of the most prestigious in the industry. Just to find out I’d been nominated had me floating for weeks. When I started out in wedding photography, some of the people I admired most had been on this list. I never thought I’d find myself on it.
In order to make the list, your work has to be technically stellar, and disruptive to the genre of wedding photography, and you have to show “exceeding talent, as well as [a] spark for directing the industry to new, exciting heights.” Entrants are nominated from around the world by the best of the industry and Rangefinder editors. Following that, you submit a portfolio, and wait. And wait. And try not to think about the judges… well, judging you.
I got the email in September and have been holding onto it since. This is one of the biggest, brightest, and most lovely moments in my career so far. I’m not going to lie. Getting this meant a LOT to me. I wanted it more than my 8 year old self wanted a SNES for Christmas. I wanted to show that magazine to my mom and cry with her because she’s part of the reason I’m a photographer today.
*(Hey that’s me! Leah Huete!)
Thank you to the people who nominated me and shared their advice with me. This sort of an achievement is never just one person. I had a community behind me for every step, guiding me, helping me up when I fall. I’m proud of my Baltimore/DC photographer community, who I hope feel recognized right beside me (there’s a lot of other Rangefinder winners there, so we definitely have something going for us!) For my peers and for more experienced photographers who took time out to help. For my family, who carry my bags through airports and mud pits across the globe. This award is for all of us.
Thank you to Jacqueline, Libby, and the rest of the Rangefinder team for this great honor and for your assistance along the way! (Libby was responding to emails well past midnight over the submission deadline.)
Thank you to everyone else who helped me along the way. I shine brighter because of the lights around me.
Stay tuned for part two — I’ll walk through the submission process, a sample of the images I submitted, and what I did to polish my brand. And of course, as my business and photography keep growing, I’ll keep sharing what I learn, with my photography community and with all my friends.
Con sangre, my friends.