Last week, at the suggestion of a friend, I entered a photo contest. The theme, or subject of the contest, was a Lake Erie sunset. Now, since I live about 3 miles from Lake Erie, I have plenty of pictures of the lake, and the sunsets that grace the surface of the water.
I waffled a bit on whether I should enter for a couple of reasons. First, from a pure vanity standpoint, I have entered two contests before, and have won a grand prize and second place, so my record is pretty good. A loss, any loss, would tarnish that record. Secondly, many of the contests call for you to give up your rights to the entries. I don’t do much with my pictures, but I do not like the idea of signing my rights over to any of them.
The rules, which were minimal, did not mention giving up any rights, so I decided to look through my files to find a picture that I thought would stand a chance in the contest. I found one I liked, and uploaded it for entry.
After entering though, I noticed that the winner would be decided by Facebook “likes” for the photo. This became some sort of an inner struggle for me.
I think we all like receiving compliments. I know I do, but here’s the thing: I don’t accept compliments very well. I never know what to say. I usually say “thank you,” but that never seems like enough. Many times I just make a joke, like if someone says “that shirt looks good on you,” I say, “yeah, it does, doesn’t it?” and laugh it off.
And entering a photo contest that is being judged by Facebook “likes” is like asking for compliments. Why would I want to do that to myself?!?
Initially my friend Kathy took the ball and shared the picture on her page, and asked friends to vote. I was very comfortable with that.
I sent a few personal messages to my friends, asking them to “like” the photo - if they in fact actually liked it. My votes started to climb, but I still didn’t want to go into a full-court Facebook press. Part of me believed that by doing so would prove the contest to be more of a popularity contest than an actual photography contest.
Then I thought about my photography and photography in general. I take pictures because I like taking pictures, but also because I like showing my photographs. Scott Bourne is a nationally-known and recognized photographer. Through social media sites he shares his years of insight on photography, and photography marketing. One of his mantras is “Show the work. Show the work. Show the work.”
This contest has given me a built-in excuse to show my work, albeit just one photo. So I decided to share the contest to many more Facebook friends through personal messages. Then I made the leap and just posted it to my wall.
I’m currently in the lead and nearing 300 votes with a few days left in the voting. One interesting point of which I am proud: of my votes, more than a third are from people who are not my Facebook friends. So either my friends are influential in coercing their friends to vote for the picture, or it’s a pretty good picture. My guess is hopefully a little of both.
As I said in my last post, I don’t believe that any of the so-called inspirational quotes actually inspire us to act. I do believe they drop little hints in our mind, and promotion of my picture reminded me of a quote from Neale Donald Walsch that states “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
At the end of that comfort zone is where I will be showing my work.
About the photo – I took the picture of this sunset at the Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo, NY at the mouth of Lake Erie on Nov. 6, 2009 (6:03 p.m.). My first DSLR camera (Nikon D40), and thus my photography hobby, were both less than a month old.