Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Earth Day - Wisdom of a Lakota Indian Elder

On this Earth Day, we might do well to consider the words of a Lakota Native American elder...

"This is what you have to understand.  To us the land was alive.  It talked to us.  We called her mother.  If she was angry with us, she would give us no food.  If we didn't share with others, she might send harsh winters or plagues of insects.  She was the mother to everything that lived upon her, so everything was our brother and sister.

"For your people, the land was not alive.  It was something that was like a stage, where you could build things and make things happen. You understood the dirt and the trees and the water as important, but not as brothers and sisters.  You were supposed to make the land bear fruit.  That is what your God told you.

"And here is what I wonder.  If she sent diseases and harsh winters when she was angry with us, and we were good to her, what will she send when she speaks back to you?"

from "Neither Wolf Nor Dog, On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder"  by Kent Nerburn.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

To Submit or Not To Submit

I get asked about submitting photographs to various contests and whether it is a worthwhile endeavor.  

To be sure, most contests are for generating revenue for the organization through submission fees - and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.  But be aware that you can spend plenty of money on contests and walk away with little to show for it.

"Pause on the Stairs" took First Place
in a contest in California
On the other hand, there are some really good reasons to consider contest submissions.  First, it gives you a chance to take a critical look at your work.  You want to submit your best images, but you also need to know WHY they are your best images (just because you like them really isn't enough.)  Second, most contests ask for an artist's statement.  Again, it is an excellent exercise to write down why you do the work, the purpose of the project, what you are trying to express, what makes your work significant.  Third, putting your work "out-there" for others to see, while it can be a little scary, really helps take you to the next level.  Finally, when you win something - great!  But when you don't - well a little humility is always good for one's character.  Just don't take it personally.

Honestly, I rarely submit my images to contests.  That said, there are a few criteria I look for when I do submit.  Highest on my list is the juror(s).  Is it someone I respect and want the chance to show my work to.  Also important is whether my project fits into the theme or focus of the contest.  A distant third down the list is the prize.  Cash awards are great, but equally so is the chance to show my work to a respected audience. 

So it's up to you.  Even it you don't win anything there is a lot to be said for the process of trying.