Backstory. After a one-year hiatus, I chose to enter my pictures in the Iowa State Fair Photography Competition. I selected a mixture of recent and heritage images, with each one fitting in specific themed categories. Four images printed off, matted, mounted, foam-boarded, postaged, and shipped.
Now I wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.
While time marches on like sands through the hourglass (so are the days of our lives), I’m busy working on other images for other competitions. Some of the photos from Iowa – like Niagara 1980 1995 2016 and Striped Cup of Flowers – are earmarked for other competitions this year, while the pictures Aerochrome Falls and Jesus Saves are in the final run of their exhibition seasons.
Now I wait. Waiting for news from Iowa as to whether any of my four artworks claimed a silk. Could my first attempt at a “still life” photo in years finally claim a ribbon? Can my latest splitfilm iteration earn an award? Can my color infrared shot of an Essex County waterfall earn its third competitive silk? Could my Revolog film print of an Albany mercy mission neon sign earn its third blue ribbon ever, tying The Jumbuck for most blue ribbons in competition?
Don’t know. All I know is that it’s time to wait.
Two years ago, when my submissions to Iowa were rejected, it started off a bad run in competition season 2014. Besides a complete shutout at the New York State Fair, and having some of my pieces mis-judged at the Vermont State Fair … it was not my best Competition Season run. But that 2014 season taught me a valuable lesson. You can’t focus on failure. You must focus on fixing that failure and achieving success. Get on the good foot, as James Brown would say.
So let’s get on the good foot in 2016.
A quick refresher. These were the four images that were submitted to Iowa this year:
So now I wait for a postcard. A postcard that could tell me if Competition Season 2016 commences with a bang… or with a whimper.
I check Facebook for any sign of postcards from other entrants. Competitors that live in Iowa have already received their postcards. The usual responses. “Got a photo accepted, first time ever, so happy.” “None of my pictures accepted, would like to see what beat me out.” “My postcard got stamped ‘AWARD,’ what did I win?” Their winning postcards are on their Facebook walls. A big white “AWARD” sticker on some of them.
And I keep thinking back to 2014. When that yellow postcard arrived in my mailbox, with a simple pen-check stating that none of my photos that year made the cut. I saved that postcard, to remind me that even if I fail… I must never give up.
And I’m still waiting for a postcard for this year’s event to arrive in my mailbox.
I contact my fellow photographer, Robert Burger – he was the person who introduced me to the Iowa competition – and asked if he’s received any postcards yet. He says no, but he’s sure they’re on their way. Robert’s been part of the Iowa show in the past, so I hope he gets his artwork on the wall again this year.
And I keep wondering… waiting for this postcard.
If you think I’m nervous about one little old postcard, wait a few weeks when I’m worried about half a dozen postcards from Syracuse. Just sayin’ is all.
Yesterday, the postcard arrived.
Got in the house.
Flipped the card over.
And this is what I saw.
Another year. Another failure.
My four pictures are coming back from Iowa. They will NOT be shown on the walls. They will NOT be part of the salon.
Chuck failed again.
And it’s at this moment that I’m starting to wonder… second-guessing myself, why did I pick these pictures, why didn’t I submit something else, why, why, why oh why…
And I have to remain positive somehow. Somehow.
Urgh. It’s the Altamont Curse and the Curse of The Chance all over again.
And I have to think to myself… if I keep getting rejected each year, should I even bother to enter this competition in 2017?
Just … urgh.