Award Winning Edmonton and St. Albert Photographer Dawn Weir
When you are out of your comfort zone, you will grow!
This was a huge year from me when it comes to my photography! I decided to challenge myself and joined a Canada traveling dress group on Facebook. (Thank you, Regina Monneypenny, for sending me the link!) The dress was made by the amazing designer Reclamation. If you haven’t seen her dresses, well once you have you will always know her dress the next time you see one. They are very intricate with lace and are absolutely stunning.
This was the 1st step of my journey.
I was lucky enough to book the dress for 3 weeks over the Christmas break so that I could shoot the dress in the winter (Edmonton) and in Phoenix while my family was on holidays.
1st Challenge…who is going to wear the dress?
I have never worked with professional models in my entire career so I posted on an Edmonton Model facebook page and booked the beautiful Victoria Shevchenko to photograph her near the snowy sturgeon river valley. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Victoria was unable to make the Sunday appointment, but the weather was PERFECT, and I didn’t want to waste this opportunity, because you know the weather can change in hours here in lovely Alberta. So I begged my daughter Julia (13 yrs old) to model the dress for me, who just broke her collarbone 2 days prior, and wouldn’t be able to move her arm around very well. Given her condition and the fact she doesn’t love her photo taken (I know right…a photographer’s worst nightmare), I convinced her to try the dress on, and her eyes lite up. She said YES! I really believe things happen for a reason and I am so very happy that it was my daughter who experienced this gorgeous dress in one of the best St. Albert winter sunsets we had this year! I decided to take her to an open Alberta field so I could get the sunset across the horizon. The photos turned out WAY better than I anticipated and my daughter looked absolutely stunning.
My next shoot was with Victoria during the week, and we went down to the Sturgeon river valley close to my house. Victoria had her makeup and hair done by the amazing Natali Kargaltseva. The weather did not cooperate for us though as there was a windchill of -18 degrees Celsius, and she is wearing a see thru lace dress. BBBRRRRRRR! As a result, the session was really quick, but turned out amazing! Thank you so much for collaborating with me on this once in a lifetime project.
After working with the dress and realizing the size was very adjustable, I figured it would fit a pregnant lady as well. I put out a last-minute maternity model call and booked the stunning Alicia Ferreira, a previous client’s niece. As soon as I seen her photo submissions, I just knew she was the one! I photographed Alicia in my St. Albert home studio (where is was warm). Thank you for coming as such short notice, the photos turned out perfect! You were glowing!
I was all done shooting in Edmonton, and was ready to head to Tuscon, Arizona to photograph my next amazing model on Mt. Lemmon. I had never been to this mind-blowing photography location, and had only seen photos online. The pictures really don’t do this place justice…it is a MUST see in your lifetime. The best time to go is a couple hours before sunset and stick around and watch the magic happen!
I was lucky enough to book the beautiful Kellyna Kassandra to model the dress. Here is a little background on how I met Kellyna. In the summer of 2017, I mentored with the amazing Tuscon photographer Regina Monneypenny. I saw her work one day on one of my photographer facebook groups I belong to, and it was love at first sight! I couldn’t stop looking at her photos and admiring her work. I wanted to learn so bad what she was doing to create such beautiful images, and finally worked up enough courage to contact her. She took me under her belt, and I was absolutely thrilled! She provided access to numerous Photoshop live tutorial and two sunset shoots…one in Saguaro National Park, Tuscon, AZ and one in the desert outside the city limits. When I arrived on the 1st day, I met Kellyna, our model for the shoot. I was absolutely enamoured with her beauty and her long curly locks.…unbelievable really! If that wasn’t enough (now I was so nervous…feeling WAY out of my league), Kellyna was unbelievable on how she would move graciously in front of the camera, with very little direction. Yup…a photographer’s dream!
I want to thank both of you for the best experience I could have every hoped for, and I learned so much! This was pivotable in my photography journey and definitely challenged my current techniques, in a good way.
So back to Mt. Lemmon! I really don’t think words will give you the type of experience I had with Kellyna and the backdrop of Mt. Lemmon….sorry for the cliché, but a picture is worth a thousand words….
This was a lot of background, but I wanted to understand how I got to the 2019 Shoot and Share Contest.
I had all these beautiful photos and nowhere to share them, other than my website and social media (a very small platform). I had seen that Regina submitted images to the Shoot and Share Photo Contest in 2018 and had 3 of her images place in the top 100 across the world. This is the only photo contest that doesn’t charge you to submit your entries, and the voting is done by anyone in the world. So I decided for 2019, I would enter some of my favorite photos into the contest…what could it hurt…doesn’t cost me anything right!
So I entered the maximum limit of 50 images into the Shoot and Share Photo Contest and waited to see what would happen. To give you an idea of the magnitude of this contest, here are the stats for 2019:
583,150 photos submitted
174,215 unique voters from
144 different countries
casting over 90 MILLION votes
Crazy right! I figured if I got any of my images in the top 10 %, that would be amazing. Every few days the contest will drop out approximately 10% of the photos. People also have the ability to “heart” an image while in the voting process which will save their favorite images to view at another time. So as long as my hearts were going up….at least one of my images was still in the contest.
I really didn’t understand the magnitude until the last round was complete, and the site was down for awhile, and I was thinking now the results will be coming in a week or so. However, the voting opened back up, and it was called the BEST of the BEST, and my “hearts” started increasing once again. AAAHHHHHH what does this mean? Did I make it in the top 100 for at least one of my images? Maybe…I think so….not too sure. I decided that I was going to vote for as long as it took until I found one of my images, and guess what….I found one! I looked at the screen a bit stunned really…and a tear came down my cheek. To get recognition from my peers was a bit surreal. Really…me?? Really? This can’t be true….maybe I have misunderstood the voting process. So, I waited patiently until the final results were posted, and this is what happened.
Here is the image that made it in the Top 100….it placed 90th out of 15,926 images Stylized Fashion Category
Finalist...Placed 328 out of 26188 submitted images in Maternity Category
Finalist placed 477th out of 15,926 images Styled Wedding/Fashion Category
Top 10% placed 719th out of 41322 images Babies/Toddler Category
Top 10% placed 727th out of 15,926 images Styled Wedding/Fashion Category
Finalist placed 2580th out of 39,479 images Styled Wedding/Fashion Category
Top 10% placed 727th out of 15,926 images Styled Wedding/Fashion Category
Top 10% placed 727th out of 39,479 images Newborn Category
Top 10% placed 782th out of 15,926 images Styled Wedding/Fashion Category
Top 10% placed 3885th out of 52,643 images Kids Category
Top 20% placed 6128th out of 39,136 images Teens/Seniors Category
Top 20% placed 6895th out of 39,479 images Newborn Category
Top 20% placed 6321th out of 39,479 images Newborn Category
Top 20% placed 7113th out of 41,257 images Families Category
Top 20% placed 1954th out of 15,926 images Styled Wedding/Fashion Category
Top 20% placed 5894th out of 39,136 images Teens/Seniors Category
Top 30% placed 2580th out of 39,479 images Newborn Category
Top 30% placed 8622th out of 41,322 images Babies / Toddlers Category
Top 30% placed 3963th out of 15,926 images Styled Wedding/Fashion Category
Top 30% placed 11,638th out of 39,479 images Newborn Category
Top 30% placed 9350th out of 41,322 images Babies / Toddlers Category
I feel so blessed and grateful to all the clients that gave me the opportunity to document one of their precious moments in time. For trusting me over the years to provide them art for their walls that they could be proud to show to their friends and family.
I am so happy that my husband suggested 18 years ago while I was working for a large corporate company, “Why don’t you be a photographer? You are really good at it!”…and an added bonus…you can stay home when we have kids (which I had my heart set on). Thank you for believing in me and giving me the support to pursue my passion.
I am so blessed for meeting one of the best photographers in the world, Regina Moneypenny, because she has rocked my world. She helped me see things that I didn’t see before. Thank you for believing in me and giving me the courage to share my work to the world, because I know I wouldn’t have done any of this without your support and encouragement.
I want to thank Model, Kellyna Kassandra for working with me on this personal project. It was a project for me to practice what I had learned and to spark my creativity. Funny how those are the projects that your best comes out of you, no pressure, no real purpose, other than my love for photography. I am so proud of my results and really feel I have grown as an artist.
Finally, I want to thank all of my beautiful clients that allow me to photograph their families and be apart of their lives FOREVER!
If you would like to be inspired by other amazing photographers, check this out!
You are amazing and and an inspiration following your drems