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My camera was being finicky. The only thing I wanted to do today was shoot and now I can’t even do that. The telephoto lens wouldn’t catch on the camera body. I started to whistle thinking about the possibilities, and about how mad I was going to be if I break the camera. It was such a cute, quaint pond that anything could happen, even a winning photo.
Then in my peripherals, I see the smallest little frog in the water. The lens caught and I saw the frog leap out of the perfect spot it should’ve been in. I frantically tried to find it. I looked above my camera to find a splash, a ripple, anything to get that one frog. Again, I see its eyes.
“Hello, Mr. Frog,” I whispered as I captured an infinite number of half good pictures. The frog then looked at the camera, like a model showing off her pouty lips and wild eyes.The frog was beautiful in the digital screen, if you could call a frog that. Although, nothing has to be pretty to be beautiful. The only thing that would make this perfect would be if the frog was on a rock. But it started to rain so I ran to the car and never looked back. That was one session I wanted to forget.
“I want a new name,” I said to her parents, teen agnstily. “Olive Green? What kind of name is that? I’m a color,”
“Oh sweetie, I love your name!” My mom pleaded with me..
“I know, I know.”
“Trust me, I chose your name so a boy would hear it and go, ‘Hey, thats a cute name,’”
“Dad!” I cried. Dad just snickered. “I’ll be in my room,”
I flipped through my favorite magazine, Photography Weekly. It was like a bible for
photographer like me. It shows the best cameras out there and the places to get it the cheapest. I needed a new one. This morning I couldn’t stand the lens and the body. The quality of the photos is subpar too.
I turned the page and saw in big letters, “Contest time!” I read it in a flash and the fine print, too. I thought, I can do this. All it calls for is your best picture and a description. Wait, no no no no! Must be 18 years of age!? Being 17 sucked. Well, screw the rules. I’m submitting a picture and winning.
In school on Monday, I told Monica about the contest and its bogus rules. She agreed with my notion.
“Screw the rules! You’d win if you were 13!” Monica exclaimed a little too loud. I still love her.
“Yeah, I think I’m gonna go to that modeling session they have at the convention center. Maybe someone will pose for free. I hope I can get a photo,”
“I know you will!” Monica said as she made her way to Science. I was going to English, totally different wings of the school. Even though Monica was basically my only friend, I trekked on to English, where finding a partner was nearly impossible. No one asked if I had a good weekend or if I was ready for today’s killer quiz on prefixes and suffixes. I was in a bubble
?that I couldn’t seem to escape.
The school had been the same all the years I had been there. No different teachers, no
different decorations. Just the same. Like everything in Missoula. I just wanted something to happen. Even if it was bad, I felt the school, the town, the city needed something. To draw attention, to excite the citizens, to do something interesting.
I needed something to bring me to that place. The place when I first started photography and I got a zoomed in shot of my dog’s pink, wet tongue. That place of euphoria that made me want this as a career. The business of photography is small, yes I know. My dad has haunted me ever since my first Canon Rebel. I just need something. A feeling of confidence that I only got after a shooting session. Thats what I need.
They were having a meeting about the photo contest in town. It was in a couple weeks and I was going to protest the age restriction. It was going to be better than Occupy. Everyone will remember this.
I happened to find a model who would be perfect for the contest. The setting was in an old alley in town square. I told her to wear something dark and hipster. She delivered and wore all black Converse sneakers; dark, dark washed skinny jeans; and a paperback writer Beatles shirt, black, of course. I asked her if she really liked the beatles.
“Who?” she blankly responded. I have no hope in humanity.
Once we got started, I told her to give me dark looks and wild eyes. Something to scare me. She bends her back and kicked a foot out, like a tap dancer.
“No darker, Cassie,” She seemed to get it after the demand.
She stood up straight and look directly into the camera covering her eyes with separated fingers and pouty lips. Like a child hiding from a monster. We continued like that for 30 or so minutes and I got many fascinating poses. “These will do,” I thought.
The next day was the meeting with the magazine. I was nervous, very nervous. The only thing I could think of was the stone cold faces I would get when I asked the question about the age restriction. It was eating me up. I’m so glad my parents were supporting me.
“You’ll do fine, honey. All you have to do is make a scene and stand up for what you believe,” My mom coaxed me while we rode to the convention center. She was really good at it. Believing in me, consoling me, loving me.
We go to the centre and it was strangely crowded. Didn’t realize there were so many photographers in Montana. My mom dropped me off to look for parking and I made my way to the entrance. I was getting more and more anxious as I moved toward the conference room. It only had a couple rows of chair set up, not even close to the number of people that were there. I felt it in my throat and stomach. The anxiety was building and building. Like a newborn baby grows. Quicker by the second.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” said a large man with a balding head and a mouse-like nose. I could already tell he was the one I needed to yell at.
“Please try to make your way into the room and find a place to sit or stand. Quiet...quiet down please! Thank you. We are having this meeting for questions, comments, or concerns about the photography contests. Who would like to start us off?”
Like lightning, hands shot up, eager to ask questions. Most were about what the photos may contain, whether or not they can have explicit words in them, what type of camera to use(Really? Shouldn’t you know already?) As we were getting nearer to the end, with fewer and
?fewer hands up, I put mine in the air. Some others received answers to their really-not-important questions. It was then my turn. I had to take a deep breath to calm myself.
“Yes, I was wondering why there was an age minimum for the contest,” I asked sheepishly.
“Well, my dear, because we can’t have young people being exposed to this kind of culture. It it only for those with professional experience,” The man bellowed with a chuckle.
“But sir, there may be others who are just as good as taking photos as an adult,” I rebuddled.
“Where? Where would that child happen to be?” the man said with arrogance like that of a king.
“Right here!” I screamed. I was furious with him. What kind of a person says these things. there was a lot of confusion in the room. I heard a couple of who’s that and how old is she.
“I can assure you, sir, that I have just as much talent as anyone in this room!” He snickered.
“Don’t believe me? Let me in the contest!”
The room went silent as I walked up to him. He was a king on his throne. “Come on. Try me. I’ll win the contest as long as you’re not judging,”
The mouse of a man slightly nodded his head. I heard a yell of, “Yeah! You get ‘em!” as I walked away down the aisle. Other shouts soon followed. I saw my mom in the back, smiling as proud mothers do.
We walked the long way back to our car. No talking, really. I was just trying to soak it in. Did I really just yell at a magazine head? Am I that awesome? We got to the car and my mom looked at me like, Did that really just happen? I just smiled and said, “Yes, that just happened!”
A couple days after the meeting, I started to go through all the photos that I had taken in the last month leading up to the meeting. I had to pick at least a group to narrow down. I couldn’t decide. I had a group from the modeling session, some from that dreaded “frog” session, and some others. I was going to narrow it down to types of photos then go from there. I hope this doesn’t take too long. Yeah, right.
I got it down to 2 piles of “frog session” and “model session”. About 5 photos in each and I was going to have to call in reinforcements. I texted Monica the pictures and asked her opinion. She told me, “Follow your gut instinct,”
How is that supposed to help me?
My mom and dad, both, liked multiple photos in both piles. Guess its going to be my decision. I kept going back and forth between two pictures in the modeling pile and was set on one photo in the frog pile. I was worried that if I didn’t chose the right photo, and didn’t get first place, I would embarrass myself completely. I would be letting down myself, my family, Monica, and all those who supported me. All those people there who shouted and cheered.
But I’m going to prove myself right.
I am going to win.
“I’ve decided,” I told my mother the next morning over breakfast.
“You did?” she exclaimed, a little too surprised.
“Yep, and I’m not gonna tell you,” I said mischievously.
She looked at me, dumbstruck by how ambitious and snarky I was being. I chose a frog
picture from that dreaded session. I looked at them again and saw the beauty behind them. I saw
the curve of the frogs features and sliminess of its skin that blended well with the forest behind it. The frog was magnificent in the light. I couldn’t wait to submit it. It was submitted through the mail. I think the magazine should get with the twenty-first century. But I won’t yell at them. Again.
For the description, I wrote, “On a drizzly day in the middle of October, I woke up early and went to a pond near my house. I saw birds, fish, and deer. But this frog was calling my name. At first, I saw it and thought, ‘Just a frog’ but then in the light, its skin shining and its legs tights, I captured it. I took the picture in beautiful sunlight and wonderful water.”
I didn’t doubt my choice, but I did worry. I worried if I was going to be that person who has too much confidence at just the right moment but doesn’t follow through. I didn’t want to be a failure or a fake. I wanted to be myself and win.
“The letter’s here,” my mom told me after getting home from school on Friday.
“It is?” I said, getting suddenly anxious.
“Yes!” my mom handed me the letter and at first, I was scared. I quickly got over that
and opened the letter. I scanned the first lines and saw, “Congratulations!” and “First Place”. I almost collapsed and then screamed.
“I did it, Mom! I won!” I said with so much joy and happiness that I thought I would burst. I quickly hugged my mom. Dad wasn’t home yet so I decided to call him and Monica.
“That’s awesome! I knew you’d do it!” My dad said. “You deserve it,”
“Ahhhh!!” screamed Monica over the phone. “I knew it!”
Then things settled down. I went to school, read my books, took my notes. But something
had changed. I had become happier and more confident. I reached out and talked to people instead of hiding. I was growing into the person I wanted to be because I knew I worked hard to be number one. All I had to do was hold on to that feeling and I would be free. All I had to do was capture.