Fit to frame: Cutest Kids photo contest revived

April 2019 Posted in Business, Community, People, Photo Gallery

Annie Smith’s studio will host the first Cutest Kids Contest in several years on First Friday. Kids photos courtesy Annie Smith Photography. Smith portrait by Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

With digital photos piling up on home computers and in cellphones everywhere, photographer Annie Smith has made it her mission to get more pictures off the screen and back into people’s hands.

“There’s a chemical reaction that happens when you actually touch your photos,” she pointed out. “But everything is digital now and people don’t enjoy their photos. I definitely think there’s a place for digital images but so many people have forgotten the importance of wall portraits and albums. Digital images get forgotten and you can’t pass them down to your family.”

A professional photographer for 12 years, Smith recently moved her studio space out of her home in Pratum and into downtown Silverton.

“I’ve made so many connections being here,” she said. “I think it has changed my business with more people coming in.”

And more than a few of those people have brought up a photo contest that was an annual Silverton tradition in years past – The Cutest Kids Contest.

“I’ve had people mention it to me for the past year – that they would like to see it again,” Smith laughed. “I had a grandma this week that said, ‘I did this with my kids.”

With so many requests, Smith decided to bring back the annual competition – complete with community voting.

“Voting will happen on Friday, May 3 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., she said. “They can come into the studio and I’ll have the photos on display. It’s one vote per person.”

The photos, which were taken throughout the month of April, will be categorized by age into three groups. The winning families will receive free family portrait sessions and a $200 gift certificate along with special gifts for the cutest kids.

“I love building community and tradition,” Smith said. “I love the idea of bringing the community together.”

Although the voting on May 3 will wrap up the Cutest Kids contest for this year, it is by no means the end of the busy season for Smith who encourages people to take advantage of the spring and summer weather by booking a free photo consultation.

“Most families do family portraits in the fall,” she added. “But springtime is my favorite time for portraits.”

Springtime is also the time when Smith likes to begin meeting with the next year’s high school seniors.

“I start booking them in May of their junior year,” she noted. “I really personalize it to the senior. We have a lot of fun and make it all about them.”

Although each senior photo session is indeed all about that individual, Smith also pays homage to the entire family, offering a group portrait session as well.

“Everything just changes so quickly,” she said. “And it’s easy to get busy because that’s a busy year.”

It’s a busy time for Smith as well, because along with her regular customers, she also offers a free senior photo session to the seniors who are currently in the foster system – just one of the many ways she gives back to the community.

“I’ve done that for four years now,” she said. “Part of my business is giving back – to help build up the community I give to nonprofits. And the foster kids is something I’m super passionate about.”

No matter what the occasion or time of life, Smith encourages everyone to commemorate it with photos – print them out, frame them and enjoy them.

“I love that personal connection and the story telling,” she said. “I just think that’s too special to lose.”

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