photoflow: first place ... in listening

in november i entered a local photography contest. it was one of those meant-to-be things ... i only found out about it at the last minute because i went to our town hall requesting a building permit and saw the flyer there. 

at the contest kick-off that very evening, everyone had to pick a category out of a hat. i plucked "age" and was hardly thrilled with my category. something about the big 5 - 0 fast approaching ...  

the very first image that popped into mind was my gentleman neighbor's bald head with short white hairs circling his crown. he must be somewhere between 65 and 75 but won't fess up to his age. i ask, cajole, divulge my age over and over again ... but he's not telling! i find this hysterical. a man. an older man. who won't tell his age! 

i asked my neighbor if he was willing to let me photograph the top of his head. he was game. but i kept putting off the actual shoot. 

so many gremlins in my head, shouting: that's a dumb idea! lame! trite!

i wondered if i could shoot it with my favorite lens these days (my 50mm compact macro), really blow out the background and focus on the little white hairs ... but the gremlins returned in full force: lame! 

ok, i'll think of something else. brainstormed and came up with lists of other options, but none really grabbed me. the week got busy. the deadline fast approaching. then the weather turned and the gray, sunless days thwarted my idea of sunlight backlighting his little white hairs. gremlins: awww, forget about it! just blow it off! it's a stupid idea, anyway! don't waste your time!

on the last evening before the deadline, the sun came out. i braved over to my neighbor's. he was available and willing. we shot. we laughed. he gave me a tour of his home and backyard. got to know him a little better. had fun. 

later that evening i kept procrastinating working on the image. i waited until after 11pm facing a midnight deadline. sat down to process the image. gremlins: it's no good! doesn't work! lame! and on and on.

somehow, i mustered the courage to enter my photo just before midnight. 

and it turns out i won!: first place in the age category. featured in the local newspaper. photo hanging at the community center for a month. and $100 worth of gift certificates. 

i'm sharing this not to toot my own horn. don't get me wrong. winning is always fun. but i've been able to watch myself during this whole experience, and i've been able to see that the gremlins in my head are not my true Self. yet i often listen to them because they are LOUD.

i know that the gremlins are nothing but fear. fear raising its voice. shouting. fear trying to keep my little ego safe.

but that fear is suffocating. that fear is limiting. and i do not want to be acting from that place. i want to act from the place that watches the gremlins. the place that is inspired and creative. the place that is everlasting and unchanging. my true Self. 

i know that fear and emotions come and go, like the weather. i know that incessant, uncreative and unthinking "thoughts" are just that: thoughts. and i don't have to listen to them. 

hey gremlins: YOU'RE THE STUPID ONES!

my first place win is a testament to listening to that first image that popped into my mind's eye. my instinct. my inner self knowing exactly what is to be done. what is right for me. trusting my Self. that still small voice that i am nurturing so it can grow more confident and loud, stronger than the gremlins in my head. 

i proudly accept this first place win in honor of listening to my true Self. 

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. 

~Ansel Adams