by Kristal Kraft
Successful photographers whether they been long time professionals or new to the business are always looking to hone their skills. We read books, practice and look at the work of others. Learning is a lifelong process. That’s why we should all be competing at PPC and PPA. We get better only by seeking to be better.
At the PPC Christmas party in December, I noticed one name that was called over and over. I couldn’t help but notice, so I sought her out. This person is Shannon Squires-Toews. Shannon specializes in Children and Family Photography. She teaches workshops and shoot-outs all over the United States. Her work is delightful!
Shannon was so humble when I asked her to tell me what it is like to receive an award at the PPA level. Here’s her response: “Winning my first ever GIA award is kinda a funny story. Having only been doing image comp for 2 years there was, and is still so much I didn’t understand about the process. Entering any images, I would feel lucky if I merited, So imagine my surprise when I got a perfect score of 100. I didn’t even know that was a possibility.
Let’s rewind a bit though. I am the kind of person who feels that if I am going to do something, then I want to do it well. I found that doing image competitions not only challenged and pushed me to try new things, but it also taught me so much with technique. When I shot “Heart like a wild flower” I was in my basement with a cheap $85 amazon light. I am not even sure if it even had a soft box on it. My backdrop was a piece of fabric that I used for newborn backdrops. So it wasn’t necessarily gold right out of the camera. It needed some work for sure. As it worked its way through the different levels of competition, I still didn’t really know what to expect. Again all I really wanted was merit. After watching it get a perfect 100 I got a few phone calls congratulating me. Then when top 10 was announced someone had to explain to me what a GIA (Grand Imaging Awards) was. The whole thing was such a whirlwind.
Winning such a huge honor was a surreal experience and has really opened up so many doors in the PPA community. Though I think the best part is the new friendships and connections that I have made within that community. I’ll be forever grateful that I had that opportunity to be on the big stage at Imaging to accept such a prestigious award.”
Great story Shannon! I really like the fact you were able to start on a limited budget. Your vision and talent is your Super Power!
If you would like to see more of Shannon’s work visit her website at:
NOTE: GIA stands for Grand Imaging Awards –
Each year, the top images or albums in each of 12 categories are selected as finalists competing for the prestigious Grand Imaging Award, which is named in
January at Imaging USA. These finalists are chosen from among the best entries in PPA’s International Photographic Competition. If you would like to view all the images in each category follow this link: