If I am being very honest, I don’t often enter photo contests. In the nearly 12 years that I have worked as a professional photographer, I believe the number of contests I have entered annually since 2009 has dwindled from more than 20 to less than three. I have several reasons for this given my experience with contests, but every so often, a particular competition will catch my eye and, if I really like the theme of it, I will donate an hour or two to rummage through my inventory and select the images that I plan to submit — completely devoid of any expectation of victory. In this day and age when thousands of photographs are produced daily, if not hourly, one can be certain to be in competition with a plethora of other images circumventing cyberspace. The law of probability recommends a contestant to lower her or his expectations of a response stating “Congratulations!”
Of course, the law of probability also denotes that one cannot be a loser each and every time. Sometimes, the contestant wins.
Such was the pleasantly surprising case with the “My Park Moment” photo contest (MPM) hosted by the Partnership of the Presidio of San Francisco and Photoville.
After 12 years in the photography business, I can say that TIA is better known for cityscape and night-time photography. However, I have often delved into the photography of natural landscapes, events, and most recently, portraits of families, couples, and individuals. For the MPM contest, I had some fun going through my collection of images that matched the descriptions of what was requested for the contest. I happily submitted some photographs back in April and didn’t think about it again. In my mind, hitting that online “submit” button when turning in photos for contests was equivalent to Wile E. Coyote pursuing the Road Runner and unwittingly falling off into that vast chasm of a cavernous canyon and mercilessly hitting rock bottom. In other words, with the contests I’ve entered, the photo submissions submerge into an abyss from which I don’t expect to hear anything ever again. To be fair, sometimes I receive an official rejection notice from the hosts. Other times, I don’t receive any response at all (which is worse than a rejection and grossly unprofessional — especially if the host of the contest takes your money in registration fees).
Not the case with MPM (a free contest) to my surprise and delight.
They contacted me in July to inform me that two of my submissions had been selected and would be on display for a long-term photo exhibition at the Presidio in San Francisco starting in September. The significance of the good news is that more than 7,000 photos had been submitted (I mentioned competition is massive for most contests). Out of that sample, 400 images were chosen for the exhibit, and TIA had two winning photos within that set. When I received the email informing me of this, it inadvertently caused me to smile. The law of probability said TIA would claim a victory this time.
However, the good news didn’t stop there. In an unexpected twist, the hosts of MPM had also planned a special event in which photographers whose work was chosen could meet in person at the actual exhibit in San Francisco in November. Given the complications with travel during the pandemic, it was not initially clear if the event would actually happen, understandably. As time went on, the Presidio decided to move forward and distribute invitations via email.
Because San Francisco is roughly a 90-minute flight from Seattle — and the fact that San Francisco is my favorite city in America to explore and photograph — I had already made up my mind that I would try to visit the Presidio. More importantly, in my career as a professional photographer, MPM would be the first exhibit that I would be able to see my own work on display. Needless to say, I didn’t want to miss that experience!
(Disclaimer: Technically, I have had my own, self-hosted gallery showcases in the past in Seattle, but those “exhibits” were not results of an official contest and were funded out of my own pocket).
Without further ado, please enjoy some images from the MPM exhibit at the Presidio. You will see the original TIA photo that was selected for display followed by images of the nerdy photographer from Seattle encountering his own images during the special event held on November 6th in San Francisco.
The event itself was spectacular! I met other photographers who had their work on display. Many participants had flown to San Francisco from other locations in America as well as Europe and Asia. Photographers received special mementos from the Presidio to commemorate their winning photographs.
In conclusion, I would like to humbly thank the Presidio and Photoville for hosting such a heartwarming and cheerful event to complement a photography contest. MPM was very meaningful to me because it was so atypical from the multitude of photo contests hosted each month of each year.
Please click on any of the images below for an enlarged view.
Of course, I spent the weekend exploring San Francisco and visiting new vantages to photograph the city. Tune in to “La Vue Atypique” later to see some marvelous highlights from this excursion!
Congratulations, Tosin and TIA!
Cheers, my friend!