After many years of taking photos and having hundreds of images just sitting on my hard drive or hanging on walls in my house, I finally decided to pluck up the courage and start entering some competitions. Much of this motivation was thanks to Gerry van Der Walt of Photo-Africa who not only gave me the push I needed, but also recommended some very inspiring and informative books for me to read.
I guess that my hesitation in entering competitions was in part attributed to the fact that images which I personally took great pride in, and was inspired to create, would be subject to public opinion. What would others think of my images? Were they good enough? What would they say about them? These were the things that ran through my mind and held me back from exposing my images to public scrutiny. After all, I enjoyed them. I was proud of them. I had been inspired to take the photograph and create the memory. That is what mattered to me and that is what photography was about for me for a long time.
The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.
I was no longer worried about the perceptions or potential criticisms of others, nor about the potential to fail in these sorts of competitions. I realised that by entering competitions and sharing my images with others would allow me to build value in myself. Nothing else would change, other than my perceptions and ideas around these competitions. I would still enjoy my images. I would still be proud of my images. The inspiration to take the photograph and create the memory would still be there, only now, it would be fuelled with an even deeper purpose.
I made the decision to enter competitions for myself. Not with the aim of winning. Nor with the fear of loosing. But with the aim of conquering the enemy that every one of us must face, an internal foe, resistance.
This may seem like a very intense and deep blog post but this whole process has been somewhat of a personal victory for me. An image I submitted to both Getaway Magazine and Africa Geographic publications, was chosen as a monthly winner in their September & July issues respectively.
When I found out that the image was chosen as a winning shot, I was ecstatic. Not because of the prizes or the publicity, nor the fact that others had validated my image, but because I had overcome my resistance to even partake in these sorts of events and won! The positive feedback and recognition that the image received from the various judges was an absolute bonus for me, as are the prizes. Interestingly, when entering the image I had titled it “Reflective Space”, not realising how much it had actually forced me to sit in my own reflective & contemplative space…
The take home message?
Don’t let resistance get the better of you. Ever. Be it in the work environment, at home, or in your personal matters. Conquering resistance and other obstacles of our ambitions will ensure that new doors are opened and that we slowly but surely move closer to achieving our ultimate goals and dreams.
I am entering the start of a new chapter in my life in so many ways (but more on that at a later stage) and I know that resistance will always be there to make me struggle, but for now, I have managed to conquer my internal foe!