Tiffany Burke is a portrait photographer living in Tacoma, Washington. She works full time as a photographer shooting mostly families, maternity, newborns and boudoir. She is a Social Media Marketing consultant for small business owners and also a teacher and speaker in the photography industry. She owns a movie production company with her husband, Sean, and together they have two sons, a baby on the way and they are adding to foster kids in the summer.

The Shoot & Share contest came out when I was entering my 4th year of photography. I was doing okay business wise, I was charging $400 for a session and loved being a full time photographer, but something was missing. I was no longer shooting for myself and only shooting for clients. That was great, they pay my bills! However, I just kept missing that passion and the excitement to create. On top of it, I was not fully inspired. I have a great community of photographers where I live, and some bigger photographers that I followed on Facebook, however, I was really in my own bubble and stuck creatively, I wasn’t seeing anything new and fresh and certainly no diversity. I was stuck.

Then the competition came out. At first it’s a plethora of photos ranging from amateur to obvious award winners. This helped remind me of where I came from, and showed me to where I still had to go. It was humbling and this helped me in many ways. But what really helped me was seeing the actual diversity of images taken by thousands of photographers all over the world. The way they saw life through their lens was so different. Their creative minds and their compositions and colors. I started to feel inspired again. Not to copy or replicate, but to branch out and start creating what I wanted and not just what customers wanted. I started planning sessions in my head that were just for me and for a new fresh portfolio. I was no longer going to wait for my dream client to come knock at my door. Opportunity didn’t knock so I built my own door and from there I walked into a brand new world. I was inspired to create again and to build my portfolio to attract the exact clients I wanted. And best of all, to shoot how I had always envisioned I could, but never allowed myself to branch out and practice and play, because I remained stuck, waiting for paid work.

My prices increased and clients didn’t bat an eye. I became more confident in creating, and more confident in guiding clients before their session so we could create memories together that told the stories that I wasn’t brave enough to tell before.

I know all of this sounds cheesy, but I think as creatives we all get stuck, and we can get into our own heads. Especially where I live. We have a slow season and it’s right now and it crawls, painfully until the cherry blossom trees bloom and suddenly it’s a photographer take over. Ha. But seriously, the slow season can get to you, and stunt your growth. It’s happened to all of us.

To this I say: use the slow season to your advantage. Vote in the contest and save your favorites, get inspired to create. Don’t copy, don’t replicate, make it your own. You are creative enough to tell your story in the way you always thought possible. You just have to get inspired and run with it.

Cheers to always pushing ourselves to take in more, study more, grow more and create more.

Click here to vote in the Shoot & Share contest for yourself!