3 years ago a contact from the Miss Iowa locals (i.e. super amazing, best-ever person, hey there Miss Ann) reached out to see if I had interest in sponsoring the headshots for the Miss Iowa sweeps contestants. I, of course, said yes & have never looked back. I have a mutual friend who works as a full-time photographer shooting mainly up & coming music artists. He shot me a message after noticing my instagram filling with crowns asking "Are you pulling your hair out yet with all those girls?"...No, no I'm not. As a former Miss Iowa contestant myself, I've got a soft spot for these driven women. Heck, for me it's a treat to spend an hour catching up with these busy ladies.
And some of these ladies have turned into beautiful friends. Friends who have come back as clients, who check in on my family & ask about my son, who bring coffee along to their shoot or better yet, chocolate. Just great, great women. I'm a lucky gal to be involved in their journeys. So, let's go ahead & kick things off. I've got 10 B-E-A-Utiful queens to introduce, so prep your eyes for a whole lotta stunning 20-somethings.
I have to kick things off with Mikhayla, Miss Clinton County. Mikhayla & I met last year when she entered Miss Iowa as a sweeps contestant. She trusted me to shoot her headshots on a screen in my mom's garage, which just tells you how chill this queen is. That headshot in my momma's garage by the way went on to win the Miss Iowa photogenic competition last year. But, let's be honest Mikhayla makes my job easy, studio or not, with that ridiculously lovely face. Along with being super chill, and super beautiful, she's also super talented. Mikhayla is an amazing violinist & I'd highly recommend taking a look at her website. You definitely won't regret it!
Up next, Marisa, Mikhayla's sister queen. Mikhayla & Marisa both reached out to shoot after being crowned this past fall & after some back & forth we settled on a date for them both to come up to Dewitt. Iowa of course had other plans. What should have been a fairly mild day in March turned into a literal snow & ice storm. Mikhayla couldn't get her car started, her boyfriend got stuck trying to find her & Marisa ended up being an hour late -- which was totally fine considering the weather. She arrived safe, though a bit razzled from the stress of over 70 cars in the ditch on her way in. I actually met her at my mom's house (thanks for everything momma) to shoot in order to save her another 25+ minutes of driving. So in classic "get it done" style we shot this amazing shot in the piano room at my momma's house using just the natural light coming in from her window. I seriously LOVE my clients to the moon & back for trusting me in situations less than glamorous. That being said, this just goes to prove that a fancy studio isn't a need, but rather a luxury, when shooting. I'm grateful to be pushed a bit as a photographer & get creative to grab the perfect shot. Marisa is multi-talented & plays a few instruments, but will be showcasing her skills on the saxophone this year for the Miss Iowa stage. It's her first year, so I'm anxious to see how things go!
Let's chat about Victoria next. Victoria & I met this fall through her step-mom (hey Nicole, you the best). Tori has had quite the adventure making it the Miss Iowa OT stage, but I have to give her major props for handling everything in stride. She's really pushed herself this year & is so incredibly deserving of the opportunity to compete. I'm really excited to see how the week changes her & the opportunities that arise from the hard work she's put in. She's made an impact on the women around her this year & created a network that supports her & encourages her to continue pushing toward her goals. I can confidently say Tori will have an awesome time at Miss Iowa OT this year, regardless of her placement in finals. She's got a fantastic outlook.
Kara is also brand-new to the Miss Iowa stage this year as a sweeps titleholder. Kara cheers for Iowa State & is a crazy busy human. She's a phenomenal dancer, so will certainly make an impact on the Miss Iowa stage this year. I'm always so excited for new queens. I can vividly remember the combined feeling of terror & anticipation during my first year at Miss Iowa. The week is draining, but so incredibly rewarding.I'm super in love with this photo of Kara. I love how soft & pastel the combined image feels & really love those soft curls spilling over her shoulder.
Miss Emily. Similar to Tori's experience, Emily has competed at nearly every local this year, so when this woman took a title at sweeps I was THRILLED. There's something to be said for a queen who pushes through disappointment & continues to grow. Emily has big plans for her platform this year, working toward a billboard featuring the suicide hotline number & The Fingerprint Project. She's got a great heart & has connected with some really amazing sister queens this year. Her journey to the Miss Iowa stage hasn't been easy, but it's helped form her into the titleholder she is today. I'm really pumped for this sweet queen.
Ok, I can't with this teen queen. Lexie I met years ago when she first competed in the LITTLE MISS IOWA program. Little. Obviously, she's not so little anymore. Having Lexie out to shoot was so nice. We had a moment to catch up on each others lives & I got to witness in person what an amazing young woman she's become. It's been a few years since Lexie graced the Miss Iowa OT stage, but she's put in a lot of work to make it back here this year.
So, remember three years ago when I took my very first MAO headshot? It was Emma. Baby, Freshman year Emma. Three years & two opportunities at the Miss Iowa stage later we finally got the opportunity to work together again. Emma & I shared a local board, who we both fondly refer to as The Glam Squad, who truly impacted our outlook as titleholders. Emma is the only queen I'll likely ever meet who is so unapologetically herself that she attended a local competition as a visiting queen in her sweats. She's a blast & Miss Iowa is lucky to have her back onstage again this year.
Check. Out., This. Stunner. Peyton had the craziest journey to Miss Iowa this year, as she was invited after a sweeps titleholder declined last minute. I cannot imagine resolving yourself to a year off & then being offered the opportunity at Miss Iowa last minute. Peyton has a great voice (& has picked in my opinion the PERFECT song), so I wouldn't be surprised to see her be quite successful this year as a first-time titleholder. This year has brought so many new woman into the Miss Iowa sisterhood, which fills my heart up knowing how many women will be impacted by this adventure.
One last teen queen to share, which is Miss Riley. Riley & her momma have a LONG 6 hour drive from their home to my studio. That being said, I am super grateful they journeyed so far & entrusted me with her headshot this year. She's a doll & has a ton of spunk. I'm excited for her the Miss Iowa OT judges to chat with her this year. The Miss Iowa OT class is so incredibly talented this year, so it will be interesting to see how things turn out. I'll be producing Miss Wisconsin the week of Miss Iowa, so I've already informed everyone in Wisconsin that I will be religiously checking my phone for text updates throughout competition nights.
My final 2018 queen to share with you is Rachel. Rachel is no newbie to the Miss America Organization, but is a first time queen for Iowa. Rachel & I hit things off super well when she came out to shoot, spending the afternoon chatting about pageantry, boyfriends, realness & corgis. Rachel's sweet little corgi is a handful, but so cute you could never hold it against him. Rachel & I both fell in love with this shot right away & after selecting 5 options we still came back this one.
I'm feeling super blessed & a bit bittersweet knowing I won't be able to cheer on these amazing queens this year at Miss Iowa. A huge shoutout whoever invented text messaging & also to Nicole who will be sending me constant updates (MVP). This year's class of queens is just amazing & sure to produce two kick-butt titleholders for the state. I'm so pumped!