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Lighthouse Visitor, - © Michael Winsor

Sunday, November 1, 2020

“Not Accepted” - A Story Of All Of Us

An image of the Milky Way over an Inuk Shuk, by Donald Lewis
Image competition within PPOC, from a rather ‘different’ view. Well, different for me. In truth, I am very new to image competition…

My Name is Donald Lewis. I am a nationally accredited night photographer, and like so many of us, I heard those harsh words a fair bit during this past week's Atlantic competition….“Not Accepted”.

To rub a bit of salt in the wound, I got the message “you’re being recalled”, so I rushed to my iPad and flipped open the live stream to see my image “A Tale As Old As Stone And Stars” on it. The judges deliberated. One spoke to the eternal spirit of man watching the stars, the story I had in fact envisioned. Thank you for that! Hope wandered in, excitement, a bit of schoolgirl fantasy.

Astrophotography by Moncton photographer, Don Lewis

Then others spoke of the flat directional light, the double keyline I thought was genius to make the image pop, the movement in the stars. I argued loudly and profanely at my computer screen.

“Not accepted”

And in the blink of the eye, I went through the several stages of grief - denial, anger, ……and then put my Angry Scottish/Irish Newfoundland heritage back in its DIRTY BIG OLD BOX. Acceptance washed over me, and the next morning I grabbed my camera, determined to get over the humbling defeat and I went back at it.

A photo of a red fox by Moncton photographer Don Lewis

I thought “how dare I get mad at an objective decision by a panel of judges? What could I have done better? Was this my best work? Sort of. What is my best work?” Well to answer that, I have already asked around. Competition work has to be your most technically flawless piece of work, combining Vision, Impact, Composition, and Technical Excellence. That’s often separate from the best selling image, or the one that took the most hours, or the one of which you’re most proud. 

It Takes a Village. We are firstly a community of professionals, it’s hard to turn off that switch. That’s why I’m asking those around me. If you're in my boat, keep going! Reach out...literally call. I have not spoken with anyone in PPOC that has not been uplifting and helpful. I’ve spent hours on the phone with wonderful photographers, as they critiqued each image in my night accreditation. I’ve visited the studios of others! Still others have dragged me into the night, where we photographed the sky and nearly* got stuck stranded in a field between two irrigation ditches that filled up with water. (Nothing like leaping 4 feet with 20 lbs of expensive camera gear on your back over 5 feet deep water) 

All of us are here. Together. Not Accepted is a stepping stone. To the Judges helping me push for Nationals - Thank You. To those of us preparing, reach out to your mentor. Post on the Salon help group. Lend a hand to someone else! We’ve All been “Not Accepted”, and together we’ll get to the other side. 


The Milky Way above an Elm tree in Hillsborough, NB, by Don Lewis

P.S. - Whereby you mess up the submission form, shuffling your titles and categories, causing a massive delay and the severe displeasure of his overlord, Gerry. For which we all owe Gerry our great thanks.



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