award winning photographer.
Did you know? It's been months and I still can't believe it. I'm not writing this to toot my own horn or shout "look at me, aren't I special?" I'm writing this to share the major lessons I have learned from this amazing experience. When I learned about this contest I hadn't even been in business for a year. I wasn't shooting with the best camera or lenses for that matter. I am self taught when it comes to editing. When I saw the previous years winners I knew I didn't stand a chance. I entered purely to push myself. I needed to get out of my comfort zone.
I am part of a community of photographers known as Shoot and Share Photographers it is a great community and this contest was full of other photographers from this community. In this contest 110,928 images were entered, 73,883 photographers were involved and 23,154,356 votes were cast. These numbers are astronomical to me. In early March I received and email stating that one (of fourteen) images that I entered was a finalist in the contest. I literally screamed, I then cried. Yes I cried. I could not believe it and I was amazed at the fact that one of my images could possibly make it that far. I had no idea which one or what this meant. Four days later I got another email stating that I was a top finisher. Meaning that one of my images had made it into the top 100. It was in this email that I learned which picture had made it so far. Then I really cried. I was convinced that this was it, this was where it ended in the top 100. There was no possible way I was going to actually place. It wasn't until weeks later that I learned where my photo placed. I learned the same time as every other member of my community did. First the 20th through the 16th place winners were announced and then day by day they announced another place winner. The whole community waited, holding their breath to see the winners, including me. Fifth place, fourth, third, and then second. There it was, there was my picture. Out of 1,253 images in its category it came in second. This one image, this one picture that meant so much to me personally had come in second. Again tears.
I had so much doubt I almost didn't enter. I was too new, my equipment wasn't good enough, these other photographers are so amazing, last years winners were ten times better than I could ever hope to be. Then it happened I actually won, my work had won. For me it was a slap in the face to quit comparing myself to others in my field, to work with the equipment I had and not worry about what I didn't have, and most importantly to have faith in myself. Since winning I have really focused myself on learning something new everyday related to photography (except for a few weeks in there where I gave birth and brought home a new baby and all ;)). My equipment is the same, my fellow photographers are the same, if not better and I don't have that much more experience than I did 4 months ago. The only difference is my attitude but I feel like a whole new person and I've gotta say, it's an amazing feeling.
So I'm guessing some of you may want to see the winning picture? Some of you are probably wondering why this image means so much to me. For one reason this is my oldest son and this little dog belonged to my uncle before he unexpectedly passed away. It was his baby. Since then my Grandma has taken in the dog. This picture was taken while we were dog sitting due to my Grandma being hospitalized. The second reason it means so much is because it was just a simple moment, a real part of my daily life.
Another one of my images got some high praise as well. It is a personal favorite too.
Push yourself, don't doubt yourself, and remember to quite comparing yourself to others. You are the only you.-Rachael
I am a mom and a photographer. My love of motherhood led me to photograph all things from bellies to birth and beyond.