If you’ve followed me on social media at all, you’ve heard me talking about the Shoot and Share competition for the past 2 1/2 months basically! This was my second year entering and I have been so pumped about it! Last year was my first year entering and I had an absolute blast through the whole competition. I went in with low expectations and came out as a 2016 finalist! I was FLOORED! It was such a huge motivator to kick things into high gear and to work even harder in 2016.
This past year has been a HUGE growing year for me. I’ve learned so much about who I am, who my clients are, and how to make them feel loved and special. It’s been a year of education, friendship, hard lessons, awesome lessons, niche refinement, branding, and so much fun! I was so excited to pick out my photos for the competition, but nervous as well. It is SO hard to be objective about your own photos. Photos that are my favorites aren’t always everyone else’s favorites, so picking photos to submit for the whole world to see in a competition is incredibly nerve-wrecking. But I decided to go all-in and submit the full 50 photos allowed. When submission time finally closed there were over 332,000 photos submitted. That right there is some steep competition. And this is open to all photographers. Industry pros submit their work along with budding newbies, which is awesome!
I had the photos pegged that I thought would make it the farthest, and when voting opened up I kept my eyes out for any shot I recognized. And I saw a few! To keep the competition fair and unbiased, photographers names are not shown with the photos, and every photo is shown an equal number of times in the voting. When voting, you would see 4 photos at a time and pick your favorite. It was intense! When voting finally closed over 50 million votes had been cast! It was crazy!
They have been releasing the winners over this past week and finally on Monday all the photos were released and we got to go in and see how everything ranked. And it was interesting! Some of the photos I had pegged to do well were out within the first two rounds (out of 12 total rounds). However, I did have one photo that made it through all 12 rounds and placed in the “Best of the Best” Top 100 photos of it’s category, placing it in the top 3%! Overall I had 8 photos that ranked in the top 30% and earned badges.
I will be 100% honest, at first I felt deflated and disappointed when I saw the results. Last year I’d earned 12 badges, so 8 felt like a “downgrade”, and I sat there throwing a pity party for myself. I realized though just how ungrateful I was being, and I felt like a toddler who was upset because I only had one sucker instead of two. One sucker is pretty awesome! So I put myself to bed to tame the inner drama queen. The next morning I woke up feeling more refreshed and went back to my results with a new outlook. This contest is just for fun. It doesn’t determine who can and can’t be a photographer. It doesn’t determine who is qualified to be a photographer. And it doesn’t determine how I am able to make my clients feel. I don’t take pictures to earn award and badges. I don’t take pictures to win contests. I am a photographer because it is one way I get to serve the world and build it up with goodness. It is a medium through which I can tell stories of love, hope, goodness, kindness, and friendship. It is a medium I can use to help people feel good about themselves. It is a medium I can use to preserve history. And when I look at it that way, I am blown away. The award isn’t in how high my photo ranked, it is in the friendships made, lives touched, happiness spread, and cookies eaten.