April Photo Challenge: Water

April showers are starting to arrive here in the Midwest, and what would be more appropriate for an April Photo Challenge theme than “WATER“.  This month, get creative, think outside the box and enter your favorite image of “WATER”. Interpret the theme in any way you wish: rain, beaches, rivers, oceans, pools, water reflections – it’s totally up to you – the only requirement is that water is somehow incorporated into your photo.  Everyone is invited to participate!

Special thanks to our very generous sponsors for the AMAZING prizes for this months challenge!

Here are the prizes you can win:

1st Place PRIZE: One-Year Pro Membership to StickyAlbums { $224 Value}


Book more clients with StickyAlbums. We help you create a custom mobile app for each of your clients so they can share your work right on their own phones or iPads. Clients love having their face right on their very own app! They can access their album – complete with your branding and contact info – via their iPhone, Android or iPad, and they can share the album face to face, or send it directly to their friends and family. StickyAlbums makes it so easy for your clients to refer you to all their friends!

SPECIAL OFFER:  During the photo challenge all Rock the Shot readers can click here to save $40

2nd Place PRIZE:  $150 Gift Certificate to Little Sweet Designs


Inside the Little Sweet Designs shop you’ll find an array of beautifully designed Photoshop templates and marketing solutions to WOW your clients and increase your bottom line. Little Sweet Designs helps photographers with design and marketing solutions; think of them as your marketing support service consultant. They provide and supply you with tools, products and know how that allows you to take your business to the next level without the ‘designer’ price tag. Save yourself hours in design time, increase your average sale and become the talk of the town with Little Sweet Designs marketing tools and Photoshop templates.

SPECIAL OFFER:  Use coupon code: PARTY60 to save 60% off storewide

3rd Place PRIZE16×24 Canvas from Canvas by Blossom {$137 Value}


Here are the details for entering your submission:

1. Create a post on your blog and include ONE photo submission for the challenge. If you like, include some fun facts about the photo, and any tips or tricks you might like to share about how you captured and/or processed your image. For this month’s submission the only requirement is that the photo must include WATER in the image.
2. Include the Rock the Shot Button and type the link www.rocktheshotforum.com in your post. DO NOT include http://
3. You can also link your submission from public Facebook pages, Flickr, Pinterest, etc. Just be sure to include the link www.rocktheshotforum.com within your post. If you are having trouble with this method, check out our step-by-step video tutorial HERE
4. Submit the link to your post using the InLinkz button below. You must submit the actual post link (permalink), not just your website URL. NOTE: do not include http:// in your link
5. You may submit your photo at any time during the challenge – the deadline for this month’s submission is April 30, 11:59pm (CST).
6. The winners will be announced on May 6, 2014.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.

By submitting your photo, you grant Rock the Shot permission to re-post your photo on our blog and/or Facebook page.

March Photo Challenge Winners

We are so excited today to announce the WINNING photos for our March Photo Challenge.  Our theme last month was “GREEN”, and as usual, the images were AMAZING!!   We want to thank all of our readers who submitted entries for the challenge, and a warm THANK YOU to our sponsors Cris Passos Photography; Photographer Depot; and Canvas by Blossom, for their generous prize donations to the challenge.

Here are our winners for the “Green” photo challenge.

1st Prize: #2 by ljholloway Photography

2nd Prize: #32 by Jennifer Sharp Photography

3rd Prize: #74 by Lindsay Williams Photography

Honorable Mention 1: #83 by Wings4Photography

Honorable Mention 2: 43# Alyssa Hollis Photography

If you’re one of our top five, proudly display the button “Top 5 Photo” button on your blog and Facebook pages. This button can be found HERE.

Winners, please contact Karlen at karlen@rocktheshotforum.com 

Thanks to everyone who entered, and STAY TUNED for our April Photo Challenge…

Featured Vendor + Giveaway: FotoTale Designs

Today we are so thrilled to welcome back our friend Sarah from FotoTale Designs to the Rock the Shot Blog.  Head on over to their website and check out all of their gorgeous templates for photographers.  PLUS… they are offering Rock the Shot readers the chance to win a fabulous $200 Gift Certificate to their shop! Enter the giveaway below, and find out about a very special LIMITED TIME offer!

About FotoTale Designs

Welcome to FotoTale Designs! Our designs are perfect for photographers who are looking for professional, easy to use templates to set themselves apart from the competition, and impress their clients.  We offer a little bit of everything from holiday cards, graduation announcements, albums, accordion albums, blog-it boards, FB timeline covers, marketing collections, collages/storyboards and much more.

All of our templates are layered .psd files.  They are compatible with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  Our designs are very user friendly.  We use clipping masks for easy photo insertion.  All colors and text are customizable, so you can easily match your clients’ style and needs.
Because our templates are fully layered, you can switch up each design to work for different occasions.  For example, our birth announcements can easily be adjusted to become birthday invitation, holiday cards, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

Our template prices are some of the lowest in the industry.  Currently we are offering all individual templates for only $1!

We pride ourselves in offering top notch design and customer service, while you can stock up your ‘design shelves’ without breaking the bank.  We are here to help you save time, effort and money, while impressing and serving your clients.  They are sure to love our fun, modern designs!

About the Owner: Hello. My name is Sarah Jimenez.  I am the owner and co-designer of FotoTale Designs.  I live in beautiful Southern Utah.  I have been designing for  4 years, and I love my job! I feel so blessed to be able to work from home with my two small children (and one on the way), who are my world.  I love knowing that my designs are helping save you time, so that you can focus on your loved ones and building your business.
When not working, I love to go hiking, biking, boating and camping.  Family and neighborhood game nights are my favorite!
Thank you for your continued business and support.  We love and appreciate our customers!

Visit FotoTale Designs on their WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | GOOGLE+ pages today!

Enter the Giveaway for a chance to win a $200 Gift Certificate to Fototale Designs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Giveaway ends on Tuesday, April 8th. Winner will be announced on Saturday, April 12th.

LEGAL STUFF: This promotion is in NO WAY sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You will NOT be notified publicly via Facebook if you are a winner. You MUST be 18 to participate. By entering this giveaway, you are providing information to Rock the Shot and NOT to Facebook. Prizes do not have cash value. There will be no returns/exchanges on any of the items.


Congratulations to Kayte McCoy on winning a $200 Shopping Spree to FotoTale Designs! Kayte, please email me at karlen@rocktheshotforum.com in the next 48 hours to claim your prize. Thank you all for participating and have a wonderful weekend! 

Your Style with Jean Smith

by Guest Contributor Jean Smith

What would you say if I asked you what your photography style is?
Before you tell me you are a portrait photographer, or a lifestyle photographer, or a high school senior photographer…

I am talking about your STYLE. Your style is what sets you apart from the other ten photographers down the street. It’s when people can look at a photo and know that it is you who took it.
There are a HUGE amount of genres in photography. We’re talking traditional portrait photographers, lifestyle photographers, photojournalists, wildlife photographers, architectural photographers, abstract art photographers, landscape photographers, fine art photographers, aerial photographers, paparazzi, commercial photographers, travel photographers, documentary photographers, sports photographers, concert photographers, pet photographers. And the list goes on. No, really. It goes on and on and on.

The point of all of that is there REALLY IS a place for everyone. Even though we are all little fish swimming in a big sea of photographers, there is room for everyone. Now the question is…WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO STAND OUT? I’m not talking about your awesome marketing pieces. Or your 20,000 likes on Facebook. Or even your super fancy website. Yes, those things help to add to the bling of who you are. But, under all of that, what are you doing to define your style in your actual photography?

Whether you are just starting or have been shooting for thirty years, ask yourself if your images describe you as the artist you want to be. By identifying your style, and actively implementing it in your photography, you can begin to set yourself apart and be passionate about the art you are creating.
So how do you identify your style?
There are many elements or factors that can contribute to your unique style. The easiest way to start your journey of defining your style is to gather several images that you just LOVE. They can be your own images or others. Look through each image and point out exactly what it is about the image you love. After a while, you will start to notice a trend of elements that you love and would like to emulate. EMBRACE those elements and focus on those when you are shooting.

Some elements within those photos that can contribute to someone’s style include:!

  • Color – Bright and bold or muted tones?
  • Lighting – Hard light, soft light, dramatic light, creative light?
  • Camera angles – Shot from below, behind, above, straight on?
  • Focal lengths – Do you see the world as a wide angle lens? Or maybe everything is more beautiful to you with a beautiful, compressed background (achieved with a long lens).
  • Styling – Do you love costumes and props? Trendy clothing? Or simple and casual?
  • Details – Do you find yourself attracted to details or the big picture?
  • Camera settings – Camera settings can play a large part in the look of your images. As an example, blurry images or a lot of motion can be due to low shutter speeds or a manual focus.
  • Graphic design – Do you love perfect symmetry or visual disorganization?

This is the time to step out of your safe place and start shooting, editing, or lighting what you are passionate about. Some people are afraid to take that step, for fear that their clients or followers won’t like it. Take the risk. You want people to hire you to create what you love. By pursuing the elements that speak to you, you will not only love photography, but your personal style will slowly develop and your images will be set apart from others.

About Jean:
 I am a photographer living in New Hudson, Michigan, with my husband and four little boys. I adore my family more than anything, and also love exercise, reading, travel, travel, travel, and delicious food.

Visit Jean at her WEBSITEFACEBOOK, and BLOG page today!

Photographer Spotlight: Dahlias and Daisies

We are so excited to welcome Stephanie Sifuentes of Dahlias and Daisies to the Rock the Shot Blog!  Her dreamy, and whimsical imagery just makes our hearts sing!  Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing your work with us today.  Don’t forget to leave some love below!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
With my daughter! My husband bought me my first DSLR for Valentines Day while I was pregnant with her. I took at least one picture a day for the first 6 months trying to figure out the darn thing! Then one day in Dec when she was 5 months old I decided we needed a holiday card so I gathered up some random stuff and did a little photo shoot on a bench in our front yard! That was the start of Dahlias and Daisies!

How would you describe your photography style?
Colorful, whimsical, and innocent!

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
Self taught for the most part but I have mentored for newborns with some of the best! Newborn mentoring is a must as far as I’m concerned!

What camera do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens?
I have a Canon 5D Mark III. My favorite newborn lens is my 50mm f/1.2 while my favorite outdoor lens is 70-200 f/2.8 IS II USM, I use it almost exclusively outside!!

Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
Never shoot a new location cold turkey! Take a model 1-2 hours before sunset and explore every angle and see how the light behaves for you. Try things you don’t even think will work because you just might be surprised!

What is the most challenging thing about photographing newborns?
Definitely temperament! You never actually know what you are going to get with newborns. You can do all the tips and tricks on keeping them sleepy and happy, but some just won’t sleep. Have a back up plans in case this happens. Some of my favorite and most creative shots are of newborns who are wide awake! I’ve found that it’s us photographers that really strive for those beautiful perfectly posed naked shots while the parents really just want beautiful pictures of their babies. Get creative with wraps and back drops and you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way!

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
Maintaining a work life balance. In 2013, I only had 4 weekends off and did as many as 70 sessions in one month (all full sessions). I missed my family, friends and life. It’s been said over and over again that the amount of bookings a photographer gets does not define success and that is absolutely true. In 2014 I’ve cut way back and now have more time to focus on each session and my family and friends. I feel like I’ve had more ME time in Jan than I did the entire 2013, though I probably wouldn’t trade the valuable learning and lessons I gained for anything!

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
Take some time and develop your own style. It will eventually come if you allow it to and not get hung up on what others are doing. I see to many photographers getting discouraged because their images aren’t turning out just like so and so’s. You’ll never take photographs like _________(insert rock star here) because you aren’t said rockstar. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create work that is just as valuable and cherished by making it your own!

What do you love most about being a photographer?
Getting totally lost in a session. My mind tends to take over and just run. I may be stressed out or cranky before a session starts but as soon as I have that newborn in my arms or baby sitting in front of me it all melts away. I sometimes think of the sessions as mind yoga!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Doing 2-3 sessions a week! And doing those 2-3 sessions in a beautiful studio built on to my home instead of INSIDE my home! I’m not exactly the worlds best housekeeper ☺ I just recently licensed a newborn image for a popular baby brand. I may explore doing more commercial work.

About Stephanie Sifuentes: Ever since I was a child I always had a passion for creating. Born and raised a Texas girl I attended the University of Texas in Austin where I studied Performing Arts with dreams to become a choreographer on Broadway. But one thing led to another and I entered the world of advertising in 2000, branding and creating websites for some of the largest and most popular companies in the world. It was absolutely my dream job at the time! After 11 years in the agency world, and my new turn in life of becoming a mother, I decided to pursue my next passion and that was photographing babies. Which is now my dream job! Family Picture by Ochoa Photography

Visit Stephanie at her WEBSITE | FACEBOOK pages today!


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