That moment you are questioning whether or not your images will EVER have a chance to go up against the BEST photographers in the world…
“I can do it! It can’t hurt! No. Wait. I will just be laughed at. Just forget it!”
Those were just a few of the thought I had going through my mind when I learned of the ‘Shoot & Share Contest’… I told myself, “Yeah right! You wont even get past the 1st round. So why try?”
Then I realized that was the devil working in my heart. That no matter what my outcome would be with entering my very own images… At least I tried. At least I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something. At least for a moment I was brave.
But I was still scared as hell to do so!
You see this contest was hosted by ‘Shoot & Share’ a company about helping other photographer. A place about community and others. And when I saw an email saying that ANYONE could enter… I was scared to even try.
The contest allowed you time to enter your images. There were 21 categories everything from weddings, children, portraits, and more. You were allowed to enter 40 of your very own images. Once the time was over for everyone to enter their images to the contest… They then allowed EVERYONE AND ANYONE to cast their votes. There would be one grand prize winner for each of the 21 categories.
After I read the email I waited a few days before I even brought it up to my Husband. I was scared still. I didn’t know how he would react. I didn’t even tell my family or friends. I was talking myself out of it that much. I was doubting my own work and skill. I was doubting myself.
But then I remember going to dinner with my family (Husband and our 2 kids) and I just blurted it out. I told him how scared I was. I told him how the contest was to work. I told him that there were images I wanted to enter but felt they never had a shot. I watched as my Husband looked at me all puzzled like. And then it hit me! “Why the hell are you talking like this?” So I then told my Husband… “I want to try. It can’t hurt. At least I can see how far I can go. I can see if others I admire and follow see my work like I do.”
And then… I watched how my Husband smiled from ear to ear. He looked at me with such joy and told me, “That’s my sweetness. You can do it. Try. All you can do is try. It can’t hurt to see what becomes of it.”
At that moment I felt strength! I started to think about the images I wanted to share. Which ones I thought even had a chance. And that night I jumped online and added my 40 images to categories such as Children, Passion Portraits, Personal Work, and a few other categories.
I will admit there were moments as I was entering these images I found myself screaming in my head, “NO! STOP! NOT THAT! WALK AWAY. YOU ARENT GOOD ENOUGH.” But then I just did it… I hit the submit button. I did it!
And now the waiting game began. I made sure I ONLY told my Husband, Mom, Dad, sister, and a few VERY close friends. I was way to nervous to tell my clients and friends.
HOW THE VOTING WORKED:
THERE ARE NO NAMES. NO WATERMARKS. NO POPULARITY CONTEST. YOU COULDN’T SHARE TO CLIENTS OR SOCIAL MEDIA TO GET VOTES. THIS WAS ALL BASED OFF OF WORK & IMAGES.
1.) You got to see 4 images at a time.
2.) You picked which one you loved out of the 4
3.) Then the next 4 showed up. You did this over & over
4.) All day. Everyday. For a little over a month straight.
5.) They were RANDOM images that showed up each time.
6.) Each few days/week they would drop off the lower percentage of images with the lowest votes
7.) 12 rounds total. Over 70,000 People Involved. Over 110,000 Images Submitted. Over 20,000,000 Total Votes.
8.) And the voting went on till they got to the last few days and could find a winner of each of the 21 categories
You have NO IDEA how addicting it was to vote! So addicting I had my computer, iPad, and iPhone all going at the same time every night. I did this so much that my Husband would sit beside me and giggle. He thought the idea of the contest was AWESOME.
I watched how each night I was voting on colleagues, those I admire, famous faces, people like Bethany Hamilton and Michelle Kwan photographers. I even saw the photographer who captured a Bride and Groom with a wildfire in the background… The same ones that were all over the news channels and Facebook news feeds.
I watched how each day I got closer and closer to the end. I would see one of my very own images here and there.
One afternoon I opened my email to see I received a message saying, “Congratulations you are a FINALIST!” I may not have known which one, or how many might have made it. But I knew right then and there… I DID IT! I entered. I tried. And there were fellow photographers who loved my images too. And at this moment it didn’t matter if I won anything. Because I had already won. I achieved something. I pushed myself and tried. And that was something to be proud of.
You see… YOU (all of us) will NEVER get anywhere in life if we don’t try. If we always sit around and tell ourselves, “what if. Maybe.” We have to get up and push ourselves. That’s when we will know. That’s when we can say ‘we gave it our all’…
And I did just that!
So next year I hope to enter again. Even if I don’t win. Even if I never make it to the finals… I will never know if I ‘could have won’ if I didn’t and never at least try.
***MY IMAGES AND HOW FAR SOME OF THEM MADE IT. I WON’T POST ALL THE IMAGES I SHARED. BUT HERE ARE THE ONES WITH TAGS ON THEM.***