I’ve been a sponsor and lead photographer for the Miss Sunrise Side Scholarship Pageant for two years now and I am continually amazed at how amazing this program is for young women. This pageant is a local preliminary to the Miss America Pageant. Pageant winners from state scholarship programs compete for the title of Miss Michigan in June of each year.
Scholarships awarded to pageant winners in the Miss Sunrise Side program include scholarship money, awards for talent, community talent, people’s choice and spirit awards. Our 2017 Miss Sunrise Side pageant winner, Ashley Flowers, will head to the Miss Michigan Pageant in June to compete towards the Miss America Pageant. Miss Sunrise Side Outstanding Teen winner, Victoria Otto, will also travel to Miss Michigan to compete.
Pageant contestants are judged on their speaking abilities, pose, presentation, fitness, talent and overall sportsmanship. I am always in awe of these young ladies watching them compete on stage. Each of them are confident, poised, dedicated and grateful! My slightly introvert self could never be up on that stage!!
Each pageant contestant chooses a talent to perform and have a platform, their why, promoting an interest they care about to raise more awareness. For Ashley, our Miss Sunrise Side, performed a lovely lyrical dance and her platform is breast cancer awareness and early detection. Victoria, Miss Sunrise Side Outstanding Teen performed a beautiful vocal, Alma del Core, and her platform coincides with her talent; music therapy for Parkinson’s disease. They were both stunning to watch as they competed last November for these titles. When winners were announced emotions filled the stage. Everything from tears of joy, laughter, smiles, surprise and thankfulness! As I was photographing these moments I had to keep myself focused (literally!) on the stage and not let my emotions overwhelm me!
One award Ashley and Victoria did receive is an opportunity for professional headshots used for their campaign towards Miss Michigan. And I love this part of being a sponsor for the Miss Sunrise Side program! Having the chance to get to know Ashley and Victoria one on one and create beautiful images of them; it’s an honor.
Ashley and Victoria, along with Miss Sunrise Side program directors, Ann Kramer and Alexander Yokum, joined me in January at my studio. We enjoyed a day of laughter, giggling, singing songs from my Spotify list, praising and encouraging each girl while photographing them. Taking pictures of these girls was a breeze because they are already so comfortable in front of the camera! And even though they are so beautiful on the outside, it is inside of them that shines. Their hearts are full of compassion for life and so very grateful to everyone around them who are a part of their journey.
Ashley and Victoria, you are both so very generous with your hearts! You have made me feel like a part of your pageant family and I will continue to cheer you on as you prepare for Miss Michigan in June! Best of luck always as you continue to give your best!