When I was in junior high school, I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer. I didn’t hold on to that dream, but I still love great photography. Recently, I went to the Imagine Exhibitions Gallery in The Venetian Las Vegas to see the 50 Greatest Photos by National Geographic. I was surrounded by familiar images that have helped shaped me as a person. It was inspiring to read the photographer’s stories. My favorite stories are those about pre-digital photos. There is so much suspense in the photographer’s stories. They never really knew if they got “the shot” until returning home and developing the film. Digital photography has significantly changed our visual media world.
What I love about digital photography is the ability to take a billion photos without worrying about recklessly using up film. It gives all of us more freedom to take photos, make mistakes, and immediately make improvements.
Even kids can get in on photography. It doesn’t matter anymore if they take a million blurry pictures of the top of their feet because you can just delete them. It’s okay if every picture is of a headless person, just hit delete…and maybe give some assistance. Now, if you are worried about allowing a child to use your digital camera because they may unwittingly abuse it, you may consider buying a camera made for kids or buying a cheap used camera. There are definitely options out there from about $20 and up.
On your next trip or outing, with family and/or friends, why not have a photography contest? Before you head out, decide on the categories everyone can focus on. Here are some ideas:
- Best Creature Feature
- Most Blurry
- Happiest Photo of Family/Friends
- Most Amazing Action Shot
- Best Solar Flare
- Most Smiles in a Photo
- Photo with the Most Interesting Angles
- Photo with Big Foot’s Shadow
- Most Interesting Footprint
- Most Bright and Colorful
- Best Photo of (name of each person, type of sign, type of flower, specific mountain, etc.)
- Most Hilarious Silly Faces
- Photo with the Coolest Rock
- Best Selfie
If I were heading out with a group of 6, I think I would use 3 or 4 contest categories and ask that everyone try to have one photo to submit for each category. At the end of the day, everyone can show their pictures on their cameras and vote. If you have more time, allow everyone to print out their photos for submission and meet up again for a voting party. You may want to post the pictures online using a program like Picasa, and allow everyone in your group to use comments to vote on their favorite pictures. Depending on how serious your group is, you may want to have judges designated for the photo contest. Or maybe there is someone who couldn’t go on the trip, but wants to be involved by voting or being a judge too. The more the merrier, right?
Once you have your winners, it’s time to save your memories. You can create a scrapbook, PowerPoint presentation, iMovie, or photo book. What’s great is that you can highlight your winners for each category and also include the other submissions as runners up. Rather than having a bunch of photos trapped on an SD card, you will have memories to share and remember the great times with family and friends.
What if your family and friends are ready to take photography to the next level? Why not enter a real photo contest?
Check out Share the Experience Photo Contest. Have you ever seen the America the Beautiful Federal Recreation Lands Pass? It’s a pass that covers entrance fees for National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation areas. Each year the pass has a new photo on the front, and your photo submission could very well be on the 2015 America the Beautiful Federal Recreation Lands Pass. There are 5 photo categories – Adventure & Outdoor Recreation, Historical & Cultural, Scenic, Seasons & Landscapes, Let’s Move Outside!, and Wildlife.
Here’s a quick summary of the rules so be sure to check out the complete rules at Share the Experience. You have to be at least 13 years of age by May 10, 2013, a legal U.S. resident, less than 20% of your income can be from photography, and the photo must be taken by you. Also, photos must be taken at a National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Bureau of Reclamation area.
I almost forgot. There are more prizes to win, but this is only a hint of what could be in store for you. The Grand Prize is $15,000, second prize is $5,000, and third prize is $2,500. There are also prizes for honorable mention, sweepstakes, and weekly winners. Visit Share the Experience for complete information about prizes.
While you are perusing the Share the Experience site, be sure to take a peek at the gallery. You can check out most recent uploads, past winners, and weekly winners. It’s a great way to get some idea of what you want to do, and discover new places to explore.
Make some time in your life to grab a camera, get out with family and friends, explore places near and far, and find memorable moments you will never forget.