Sunday, April 22, 2018

Photo Contests

Ah, the photography contest.  The terrifying prospect of putting your art into competition.  Art is an incredibly subjective thing, I have entered a lot of juried show where I've been rejected and ya know, it hurts.  It hurts every. single. time.  And then you go to the show and you feel like your piece is as good as others that you see there.  You wonder what was wrong with yours...

Art is a very personal thing.  When you create something, it's frequently a little piece of yourself.  A spark of your creativity. To really fall in love with a particular piece of art and then put it out there for others to judge can be a scary thing.  No one likes rejection.  Not to mention the financial costs involved.  It can cost 35-50 dollars to enter a photo in a contest.  And that's frequently for a digital entry.  For a physical show, you have to prepare a piece for presentation and have it framed and ready to do, if it's rejected, you've just dropped a pretty significant chunk of change for nothing.

But really, art contests are about outside validation.  The need to feel approval for your work.  I really struggle with this one.  I feel, frequently, like I'm not a real artist because it's not what I do for a living.  I teach high school history for a living.  I'm not going to starve if I don't sell a photo, or get hired to do a photo shoot. I really don't make much money off my photography at all.  The tie dyes I sell in the summer frequently fund my photography habit.  But the photography is what gives me fulfillment. I have total impostor syndrome when it comes to my art. I know that my value as an artist is not measured by its popularity on social media, but it is still incredibly frustrating to create a piece I love, put it out there in cyberspace, and have it not make even a ripple in that vast, digital ocean. Sometimes, you just want to feel extraordinary at something.

Recently, I have been a finalist in a few photography competitions.  I have that, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" feeling a lot.  Finalist is great, it's a big accomplishment in and of itself, but it's not "Winner."  It feel that deep seeded feeling of inadequacy I've felt since childhood.  I need to put those feelings away and enjoy my art for the sake of it being art.  I do it because I love it.  I tell myself that over and over again, hoping that some day, I'll believe it.

I take solace in the fact that one time, I entered a photo contest, and while I didn't win, I had some art digitally displayed in the Louvre.  So, I guess I don't suck too bad.  Maybe that was my peak.  Who knows.  I will keep trying.


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