I just got back from the 2019 first annual Animal Image Makers conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was a very long four days, from 8AM to 10PM every day. We had fabulous speakers, a choice of beginner or advanced track courses on topics like posing animals with their families, dog safety (taught by an incredibly intelligent veterinarian), and even equine photography. We learned in person from industry leaders from around the world. In sum we had about 200 unbelievably talented pet photographers in attendance at one venue for the first conference of its kinds.
Then, OH MY GOODNESS, friends, look what happened in Minneapolis. I was on the fence about entering any portraits into the Animal Image Makers image competition, and in fact an image that I call Learning to Share of a baby in a highchair watching his dog beg for food was an entry I submitted at the last minute. Literally, I was uploading my entries at 5:59 before the 6pm deadline. I had zero hope of my portraits doing anything in competition, especially after some feedback that my images - especially that baby in the highchair - would have a tough time even getting a merit. I submitted because I wanted the judges' feedback of what to do better in the future, and because darn it, I believed in that image. At the closing party, we learned that they were 474 images in the competition, and these are the top pet photographers in the world. We saw all the submissions playing on a screen and they were breathtaking. These portraits were SO beautiful. It was amazing just to be in a room filled with so much talent. Then the president of the organization announced third place, then second place, then first place for Best Animal and Human Image, and he called Learning to Share by Lisa Browning and my beloved portrait was projected on the screen and my heart stopped.