Not Trying to Brag, but Awards are Pretty Cool: Becoming an Award-Winning Business Owner

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Not Trying to Brag, but Awards are Pretty Cool: Becoming an Award-Winning Business Owner

As you know, I love what I do. I’d happily point my camera at cool people doing cool things without thanks or recognition. It’s truly my passion, and I’m thankful that I get to do it every day. But… as much as I love what I do, it’s still a business. And as a business owner, being recognized admittedly feels pretty badass! Knowing I’m an award winning photographer still feels surreal. 

2022ADDY (American Advertizing Awards) SWFL Gold Winner

This year, one of my images was selected for an SWFL ADDY in the Digitaly Enhanced Photography category! This award is evaluated on a creative basis, with the judges determining winners based on whos entry shows the most creativity in the advertizing industry. 

What becoming “award-winning” can do for you

Business owner to business owner (because if you’re here I’m betting it’s because you’re looking for a branding photographer) – awards and recognition, whether at the local or national level, help tell your future clients that you’re legit AF. You know you are, and I know you are… but we want your clients to know that too. We want them to be able to check out your website, and immediately know that you’re the best of your industry. 

Awards from recognized bodies do tons of work for you, and help you skip steps in the know, like, trust process. It’s like being able to share a testimonial from someone super well known – they trust you, so that client? That client should trust you too. It immediately builds authority in your industry, and what business owner doesn’t want that?

Okay, so how do I get one?

I’m going to tell you a secret. Sometimes, you can just apply. Not all the time, but you’d be surprised how many awards out there have a submission process you can go through on your own time. Some are based on specific niches, industries, or characteristics – some are specific to a local area. For example, I’ve received Best of the Gulfshore two years in a row (2021 & 2022) in the photography category. 40 under 40 from Gulfshore Business is also recognition based on a local area.

2021/2022 Best of the Gulfshore Finalist

For the past two years, I’ve been recognized as one of the best photographers in the Gulfshore area! This recognition is issued by Gulfshore Life Magazine, known regionally for their luxury service recommendations. It’s an absolute honor to be listed among the other incredibly accomplished local entrepreneurs they’ve selected! 

So your next step? Go looking! Get on the Google, and see what you can find for your area, and start there. Need to be nominated by someone else? Get a little shameless – go ask your business bestie to nominate you, and while you’re at it, nominate them too! Share the love!

Things to keep in mind

Whether you’re applying outright, or you receive a notice that you’re being considered for an award, there are some things to consider when setting yourself up for winning awards:


  • Be able to tell your story: They’re going to want to know your WHY. Why are you in this business? What makes you different? What have you learned along the way? What advice do you have for others? Remember that what you now intuitively know about business, about your industry, or about owning a business as a POC or as a woman (identity-based recognition is out there!) is a lesson that took time to learn. Someone else might not know it yet – you’ve got the opportunity to help close the gap for that person. 
  • Be well-rounded: Photography is pretty much my whole life. But, I also spend a ton of time volunteering, both through my photography and otherwise! When I’m in the running for an award, I talk about this stuff. Not just because volunteerism in particular is usually a tick on the list in my favor, but also because it shows that I’m a person. I’m a whole person, who does things outside of my business. And you are too! So what do you do that isn’t teaching yoga? Or making cool coffee? What do you stand for as a human? Think about this, and consider working it into your application/nomination response. 
  • Be confident: Look, I know we’re all taught to be humble and stuff. But this isn’t your cousin’s Memorial Day barbecue, and you’re not chatting with family – this is business. You want your clients to know that you’re an authority in your industry, that’s why you’re going after this in the first place. So you have to show up as that person when you’re applying. You have to show up as the confident, badass business owner that you are. I didn’t always know my shit, and I will openly admit that. But I definitely do now, and you’re not going to catch me undermining my own skill. Don’t undermine yours either.

Gulfshore Business 40 Under 40 | 2022

Remember how I said that some awards are based on specific characteristics of you or your business? Well, this one hits both! This is awarded to business owners in the Gulfshore area (surprise) who are under 40 years of age, and meet Gulfshore Business’s standards for excellence. When they evaluate nominees, they look at more than just business acumen though – they said it best, stating “inclusion in this list requires more than professional excellence and comparative youth; each honoree has also dedicated extra energy, time and talent to making his or her community a little better through philanthropic work and volunteer support for nonprofit organizations.”

“But I’m definitely not good enough to get an award.”

You might be sitting there thinking, “Well, I could apply for one of these… but I wouldn’t get it anyway.” 

Welcome to imposter syndrome, my friend. You’re now in the club, we have weekly meetings. But seriously, if that’s what you’re thinking: stop. I want to ask you a question. If you apply and don’t get it, what have you lost? Ten minutes? A half hour? That’s nothing compared to the benefits you could possibly reap if you are chosen, or are even a finalist for local or national recognition. 

You’re not on the committee choosing award winners, so you are literally not qualified to count yourself out. Whether you think you’re good enough is completely irrelevant, because it’s not up to you. But if you don’t put yourself in the running… you’ll never know.

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