Photography Competitions and Life Evaluations

Normally, competition and I are best of enemies.  I tend to be so competitive that I avoid most things that could open a door to my "ugly" side.  This goes out the window when we are talking about my kids sports, the avoiding thing that is, not the "ugly" side thing.  I am that mom who is screaming and yelling the entire game.  Don't get me wrong, I know better, I just get so passionate about it that I struggle to control myself.  When it comes to things like photography, I tend to also avoid competition.  I know that I have a long way to go to be the best photographer out there.  Sometimes I forget that its a journey and that the best in this industry weren't born with a silver camera in their hand but that they worked really hard for it.  It's really easy for me to look at my work and pick it apart so much that I end up thinking the entire thing is terrible, when others might not see the many faults in it. 

With all of that said, there is one photography competition that I love to participate in.  It's called Shoot and Share and its hosted each year where something like 400.000 images end up getting submitted into several different categories.  They randomly but 4 anonymous images in a block and you vote for your favorite.  It's that easy.  The images with the most votes move on to the next round and so on.  It's fun, it's addicting, and it's been a great way for me to get inspiration as well as build some amazing friendships with fellow photographers through our experience in the contest.  There isn't a judge telling you what you did right or wrong so it is sort of perfect for me.  

I have learned something about myself during this contest though.  I am too hard on myself.  I'd be willing to bet, you are too.  The image posted below scored 827 out of over 16,300 images.  Now, I had one that did better as far as results go but this one shocked me.  I really don't even like it.  I could tell you the many things I don't enjoy about it but it doesn't matter.  I don't like it because of my issues.  When I look at it, I see what I did wrong, and forget to see the beauty in what God did right, which is why I took the image in the first place.  

I am so much like this image, as so many of us are.  We are beautiful, we are likes, people enjoy being around us.  Other people see our value and are grateful and glad that we are in this world.  However, sometimes it's far to easy to think the worst about ourselves.  We don't like what we see, how we sound, what we contribute, and we find our value to be very low on our own scale.  I almost didn't enter this image.  It was a last resort image as I ran out of images and wanted to enter the max amount of 50.  I often treat myself just like this image.  I hide from challenges, thinking I'm not good enough.  I stand in the back of a crowd waiting for others to contribute since their contribution is bound to be more valuable than mine.  I offer my services as a last resort when I think no one else is available.

No more.  No more undervaluing.  No more last resort, and not good enough thoughts.  I am entering into a year of many, many changes, and I will need every ounce of talent and awesomeness that the good Lord has blessed me with, to bless others with.   Are you selling yourself short?  Are you letting the world see all of you?  What is holding you back from being the majestic and amazing person your were created to be?  Let go of it.  Let go of it all and shine.  I may never be number 1, you may not be either but, 900 out of 16.000 is pretty dang good enough if you ask me.