Please forgive this blogpost as it is going to sound very "braggy". Generally speaking, I am not a "me, me, me" person. (Gosh! At least I hope I'm not!) And I apologize head of time if anyone thinks less of me for this post. But I am just so jazzed!!! I have to tell you!!!
As some of you know, I belong to an online photography group called, ViewBug. I joined at the urging of my sister who is an amazing photographer. At first I was reluctant because, well I only take pictures with the camera on my cellphone not a fancy real camera and because I knew that, while I love taking pictures, I am about as pre-amateur as anyone could possibly be.
But Joy persevered. She insisted that my work was better than I thought it was and suggested that ViewBug was a great place to learn to be better. Tim, who is also a brilliant photographer, took her side. It was two against one. And after a lot of thought, I took a deep breath and suddenly there I was in the midst of an enormous collection of people of all ages, all abilities and from all over the world! And of course, Joy and Tim were right.
ViewBug turns out to be an amazing community of people who are supportive and interesting and share a love of photography. Some of these contributors, like me, started out with very rudimentary skills, but others are incredible professionals whose work is just amazing.
We all bravely post our work. We comment on each other's contributions. We ask questions. And are inspired by one another. We challenge ourselves and each other constantly. What a wonderful way to learn.
There are actual tutorials on ViewBug so if there is a specific type of photography that you feel needs improvement, there is a place to go. There is a forum for photographers to 'talk' together online. And, very fun, when we start feeling a little more confident in our abilities there are contests and challenges.
The contests are set up by the administrators of ViewBug. There are real judges. The winners receive, in addition to the cachet of having won, real prizes...cameras or camera equipment for example. It's a very big deal.
There are awards that are given out regularly. Winners are notified that they were the best in whatever category and everyone else who qualified is notified when they are in the top 10% or 20%. I am pleased to say that I have gotten a good number of those notifications. I was frankly surprised that I ever ranked that high with any photo and assumed that was the best I could possibly hope for. It was very cool.
Then there are the challenges. The members of ViewBug set up the challenges. We choose a photo challenge topic and send it out to all of the other members. Anyone who wants to, submits their picture which they feel is suitable for that topic and then there are two winners. One winnner is chosen by the person who set up the challenge the other by the votes of all of the ViewBug members. For those winners, it's strictly a pat on the back kind of thing. The winners are interviewed by ViewBug and that interview is posted, kind of awesome. But mostly it's just the knowledge that...woohoo! You won!
The photo at the top of the page was my first big win. It was completely unexpected. It was called a Peer Choice Award and it had something to do with the activity my photo generated amoungst my fellow ViewBugians. I did not have to submit to the photo anywhere special, it was just a picture that I submitted as I do on the regular. So it was a surprise. And it tickled me to bits and pieces :)
I was rather agog with that first win. It was akin to winning the lottery. Only with no actual cash involved. I assumed that it would never happen again. I was delighted with my One Win. Yay Me!
This was the second picture that I won a big award with. Again I had no idea that there was an award of any sort in the offering. Just boom, it showed up in my inbox as a congratulations! You have won...The Community Choice Award! To say that I was shocked is putting it mildly.
I was already convinced that winning the first award was some sort of one-time fluke. But here was a second award! Wow! That is awesome. I probably should say that I'm above the need for compliments but apparently I'm not. I admit it freely, while I didn't seek out this award, it was very exciting! And actually, very encouraging.
So there I was with two big awards under my belt. Lightening struck twice. Not a chance in the world that it will ever happen again. Which means, no pressure. Just taking photos for the joy of it. Posting them daily to be part of the photo-community that I am now a member of and always learning learning learning. Ain't nothin' wrong with that! And I continued on my merry way.
Then earlier this year I was stunned when I received a Top Shot Award for this picture. Honestly, part of my surprise was because I honestly didn't think it was a very good photo. I was equally shocked to have gotten an award that I knew nothing about. I suspect, since it was around Christmas Time (well just after Christmas) that maybe each member received an award as a Christmas Present. Awwwww! That's downright adorable! Very Sweet and I will TAKE IT!
So there I was merrily rolling along, enjoying posting my photos each day (It's a discipline thing. I post two photos Monday through Friday which means I have to come up with two pictures that I like enough to post 5 days a week), viewing and commenting on other's work, watching the tutorials, honing my craft, entering the occasional contest or challenge, just for fun and just living my quiet little life. And then this happened last Friday:
I found out that I actually won a Challenge! Wow! The category was Chandeliers obviously. Holy Cats!
My first thought was the perhaps I was the only person who enterred that challenge. But I did my research and while there weren't hundreds of thousands of entries, there were enough other entries that I feel that my win was respectable.
Eventually I will get over myself and definitely I will continue working at this. Taking pictures, learning to take better pictures, posting, entering contests and challenges and who knows if or when I will ever win another award.
I won't lie. I am getting a real kick out of these awards. But even without the awards, without the positive feedback and occasional spotlight, I love taking photos and that part will continue.l I am delighted to have found this photo community to be a part of.
If anyone else out there enjoys taking pictures, ViewBug is pretty awesome. Check it out.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.