2022 Miss Virginia High School America Pageant
Updated: Sep 29
Happy Sunday! We're going a different direction on the blog today, and I will be featuring the second pageant I photographed this year - the 2022 Miss Virginia High School America pageant. This pageantry system was the first major one I was ever a part of and it has always held a special place in my heart, especially after my good friend and loyal model Alyssa won the national title in 2019. This weekend I got to go back and see 10 beautiful new queens crowned, and I can't wait to follow their journey to nationals!
We began our pageant weekend on Friday evening when each contestant completed their interview with the judges panel. I always do my mini sessions with contestants during this time. It is one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend, because I am able to get to know each contestant personally before I photograph them for the remainder of the weekend! I also always talk about the mini sessions themselves, but rarely do I talk about the interview process for each contestant. These girls, with their ages ranging from 4-28, have to prepare and work hard in order to meet in front of a panel of 3-5 judges for an interview. This is something I have never had to do in my entire life and could not imagine doing at such a young age! I always ask each contestant during their mini session how their interview went, and am amazed every time at how confident and excited they are about the chance they got to share with the judges more about who they are, what platforms they represent, their community service projects, and things as simple as how they are doing in school. For anyone unfamiliar with pageantry, the interview portion counts for a large percentage of their score while also giving them valuable experience and lessons that they will carry with them throughout life!
On Saturday I attended the elementary portion of the pageant in the morning and the Junior High/High School/Collegiate portion in the afternoon. There were 32 beautiful contestants who were all hoping for a chance to come out with a new title! I say every time that I attend a pageant that I could never be a judge, because that job is just too difficult for me. I can say, though, that this panel of judges was well equipped to select the right girl for the job! Each one of them held many years of experience in pageantry, including a judge who was formerly Miss Collegiate America. It was also amazing to see that a lot of the contestants were former title holders that came back for a chance to win again in a different age division. It says a lot about a system when girls want to keep coming back to it over and over again!
The on stage competition has two parts, gown and fun fashion. I believe those two portions give each girl a chance to show off more of their personality. For fun fashion, the girls get to have fun and take the stage to an upbeat song with an outfit covered in sequins, sparkles, feathers, or even long capes. In gown, each girl gets the chance to show off their poise and elegance. It is not easy to walk across a stage in heels and a long, fancy ball gown, but for all of these girls it is worth it! After competition is the moment each of the girls have worked hard and waited for - crowning. My favorite part of crowning is the reactions, and not just the reactions of the winners! All of the girls are excited for the winner, even if it means that they didn't win. Every time I see girls cheering each other on, clapping, hugging and even crying for their friends who have won. I also know many girls who always leave with a positive mindset, and a lot of times come back next year to end up being crowned by their very friend they so kindly cheered for the previous year.
Immediately after crowning the girls get their on stage moment with confetti falling all around them to just soak in their new win and meet their new sister queens for the first time! After that moment it is straight to business, and we start with their on stage portraits both individually and together. At this pageant I got the opportunity to take them outside as well and do some portraits of them around the beautiful Louisa Art Center. Anyone who knows me knows that I appreciated this, because I thrive when working in wonderful natural light settings! I also got to capture a few photos of the girls signing their contracts, and talk to them about the fall session we have planned for next month in Harrisonburg. As much as I love their gorgeous gowns, I also know we are going to have so much fun taking photos in casual fall outfits as well!
I want to thank Hester, Chastity, and Savannah - the directors of this pageant - for having me come this past weekend and meet and photograph so many beautiful girls. I am hoping I provided everyone with amazing photos to share throughout this next year during their reign! Congratulations to each girl, everyone looked beautiful and did a fantastic job!