The Never Ending Contest

PBS 39 studios

PBS 39 studios

Have you ever had a dream where you are franticly trying to arrive somewhere, get to a destination, and think that your almost there only to find out your at the opposite end of where you need to be and you have to start over once you get there, and this whole weight of the process is drowning you?  We’ll I’ve never experienced this but it sure sounds interesting and matches my post title. Along these same lines of never ending attainment there exists a photo contest here in the Lehigh Valley called ‘Capture Greater Lehigh Valley‘ which is sponsored by PBS 39 and Cardinal Camera.  The contest runs through the end of March and culminates in the creation of a photo book from selected pictures and a grand prize cash award. There are also some challenges along the way to compete in to keep things interesting. Theres a picture of a house challenge, a smile challenge, and kids cartoon characters challenge.  Yes, you too can partake in pictures of cartoon characters with kids!

I joined this motley crew of photographers back in October of last year and have been submitting my little bundle of photo’s to this contest website sporadically over the past four months.  Anyone can submit pictures, and I’ve seen everything from snapshots with date tags on the image to beefed up photoshop powerhouses.  There’s even one shot of massive 50 ft imposed cartoon mushrooms and flowers sprouting up next to the bethlehem steel blast furnaces.  It’s been a very odd mixture of images, however in this mixture is a story of photographers from all walks of life around the valley providing a window into their lives through pictures.  I don’t know anyone personally in this contest, however I’ve voted on enough pictures…

ok one fact here needs sharing to help this post along – yes you submit your own photo’s but also you  vote on others photo’s if you like them or not.  You don’t really know how your photo is doing in the thumbs up or thumbs down game, you can just see how many total votes you got on a picture. So you don’t really get a sense of direct rejection, rather you can peruse the categories listings of ‘popular’ photographs to see how well your photo is faring in general to get the gist of how it’s doing. And if your gathering from these details that I may be a bit addicted to this whole thing, that I may be willing to concede.

Back to my point, even though I don’t know anyone personally, I’ve voted on enough pictures over the past several months that you ‘get to know’ each photographers passion and what they enjoy.  “Photographer A” really likes to take shots of sunsets and flowers and trees and brooks and more trees etc., or “Photographer B” has an crazy obsession with HDR, or “Photographer C” really, really has a thing for birds (ok if you like bird photography, about half the submissions on this site are a pictures of birds – You’d love it).  But really that’s what’s so great about the site, people are posting what they are interested in and not what they are getting paid to do.  Most all the folks that submit are not professional photographers, but just enthousiasts who want to take better pictures like myself. It’s a unique microcosm, a snapshot in time (forgive the awful pun) of what the Lehigh Valley is all about, what folks are into.

I’ve recently thought a bit about what this is doing to my own photography, this slight obsession of mine.  On the positive side, I know it’s helped me want to get out and take pictures.  When my submissions lag – I know I’ve not been out there taking shots and that makes me itchy to get out there with my camera.  I know also it has helped me plan what I want to go out and photograph.  I’ve got a growing list of things I want to take shots of as I look through the categories and think through what would be interesting to shoot.  The negative side to this contest is that it’s been a LONG road.  It’s taken up a lot of my thought creatively and I’m not sure if that’s been a good thing.  I hope in the end I’m trying to be true to my instincts on what I like about a shot vs trying to guess what would play well with the audience.  But for now I’ll just chalk it up to a good motivational experience, one that includes looking at a lot of bird pictures.

If you like photography, live in the ‘Greater Lehigh Valley’ and this piques your interest, check it out.

The Lightbox Share for this post is a sample of 10 random submissions I’ve made to the site below.

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