My first image to ever receive any outside acknowledgment was titled Cloud of Flowers. I remember taking the photograph as if it were yesterday. We were teaching a photography class in Balboa Park and as the students were sent off to the rose garden to practice their newly learned skills ... I went with them.
I was drawn to these beautifully over-blossomed clusters of white roses. How cool they looked against the blue sky with its own clusters of billowing white clouds. So, with a quick twist of my polarizer to deepen the already intense blue sky, I positioned myself to align the flowers with my chosen background. A quick series of rapid-fire shots later and I looked at the images on my camera's monitor.
"Oh! I made a picture!"
Yes, at first glance I knew something had turned out right. Though I don't think I fully understood at the time exactly what that 'something' was.
I decided to enter the image into the San Diego Fair Photo Competition with nine other photographs I took that year. A few supportive people around me were concerned, not because they felt my photographs were bad, but because I was still somewhat new in my photography journey. They didn't want my impulsive, unabashed enthusiasm to be squelched by a staunch, set-in-his-ways judge who may not have my best interest at heart.
I understood that ... and chose to put myself out there anyway.
I needed to put myself out there. I needed to make a proclamation to the world, "See, I'm a photographer!" And I needed an event to mark this declaration ... probably more for myself than for anyone else.
Putting yourself out there is hard, it's a gamble. You run the risk of someone not liking what you have worked so hard for, what you hold so personal and dear. It would be so much easier to hide with my images tucked safely inside my computer, to be viewed only by myself and a few carefully chosen friends. But, I find this far more disabling. Never trying, never pushing, never presenting yourself as you really are leads to regret and you run the risk of living in the 'I wonder what would have happened if ...' world.
When I looked at the juried results, I found three of my submitted 10 were chosen to hang at the fair that year ... with Cloud of Flowers earning a 4th place ribbon.
Pride is a strong emotion filled with accomplishment, acceptance and completion. It can be given to you by other people or, more importantly, developed by yourself ... which I have learned to do. Through every failure, new approaches are born, new techniques conceived, new ideas entertained ... and so we grow.
As I look at the image now, technically it's okay (the lighting is fine, I used a polarizer) nothing really too spectacular ... except that it took a cloud of flowers to discover my pride.