So let’s just be honest – it’s hard to put yourself out there. Whether it’s sharing an idea at work, asking for a first date, or entering a contest. It’s scary to know that you might not get the reaction you’re hoping for.
For me, it’s been even tougher when it comes to putting myself out there in the photography realm. Sure, I share a ton of the photos I take, and some may get more of a reaction/likes/etc. than others, but that’s not really putting myself out there in a serious way.
Entering a contest full of work from tons of super-talented photographers? That’s putting myself (and my work) out there. It’s scary because I love what I do, I love my clients, and I love their stories I’m able to tell, so I’m really invested in those photos.
I’m proud to say that for the past two years, I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone and entered my work into the amazing Shoot & Share Photo Contest. This contest is completely anonymous (no names, no watermarks) and chock-full of talent. Once images are submitted and voting begins, 4 images in the same category pop up on the screen and you simply click the one you like the best to place your vote. It gets kind of addicting!
More than 225,000 photos were submitted from all 50 states and 120 different countries. It’s crazy to think that my work gets put up against photographers from around the world, including some of the photographers I look up to (and learn from), like Amy & Jordan, Justin & Mary, & Katelyn James. Completely intimidating? Um….. yes. Pretty cool? Also yes.
The results are in, and I am proud of how my work finished out! Did I win any of the categories? No. Were any of my images finalists? Unfortunately, no. But I did end up with images that scored in the top of their category. I had two images in the top 10%, four images in the top 20%, and 1 in the top 30%. Pretty darn good for my second year entering as a part-time photographer! And it’s an improvement from how my photos ranked last year, which is a win in itself.
So being the nerd that I am, I of course had to go in and figure out exactly where in the top 10, top 20, top 30 my images ended up… The image above landed at 3.7% in the “Children: Preschool/Toddlers” category that had 18,329 photos submitted!
The ring shot below landed at 6.8% of the 6,514 images submitted to the “Wedding Details: Ring Shot” category.
This next ring shot was in the top 14%.
This image of these two adorable guys landed in the top 16%, and the shot of the rings below just squeaked in to the top 20%.
This image went into the “That Just Happened” category (which was sooooo entertaining to vote on!), and ended up at 16% of the 2,103 images submitted.
And this sweet one of two of my very most favorite people went into the “Lifestyle” category & was right at the top 25% of the 5,244 images submitted.
Overall, yes it’s exciting to have images finish in the top percentages of their category, and I’ll be honest and say that it’s somewhat validating to think of that on those days where I fall into the overly-self-critical trap creatives tend to fall into.
But really, the main thing for me in all of this is the pride I have in myself for putting aside the fear and self-doubt and submitting my work. The win for me is continuing to love & serve my amazing clients by capturing real-life moments and getting gorgeous shots of a symbol of love and commitment.
So please don’t read today’s post as a way to praise myself, but more as a reminder that we should always try to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, because the growth that comes from that push is the most important win of all.