Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why We Run: Or, Why I Fail at Photo Contests

I have a tendency to over-analyze things. Questions that require any degree of introspection whatsoever will often leave me speechless for eons. And, my eventual quasi-answer will either be evasive or so overly laden with tangents that the person who posed the question won't care enough to carry on a conversation with me anymore.

I've lost you already, haven't I?

Anyway, there's this photo contest that inspired me to question my motivations for running. And, being that the photo contest provided monthly opportunities to submit one photo response over the course of the year, I felt certain that I'd be able to illustrate my personal reasons for running at least a few times. I love photographing stuff, after all. And, I love running. How could I not participate?

I presume that my reasons for running are fairly standard and comparable to the usual reasons others might have:

  • physical health
  • weight management
  • mental health and stress relief
  • enjoying nature
  • time alone
  • time with other runners
  • counteract negative consequences of eating cookies, gigantic burritos, etc.
  • sweat out toxins from previous night's wine drinking
  • set an example for the kids
  • live long enough to see the kids grow up
  • live longer with adoring wife
  • look better naked for adoring wife
  • sense of accomplishment
  • ego
  • time to think
  • clarity
  • levity

The contest ends December 31. And, I've yet to submit a single photograph.

The more I thought about why I run, the more I found it hard to translate my reasons to colored pixels. It's such a personal activity, running. So, I wanted to really say something with my photos. But, photography is more doing than saying. And, if it's what I do that defines who I am, then photographing my reasons for running made saying something more personal than my sense of Internet anonymity would allow. So, this contradiction in standards pretty much negated any productive effort I might have put into this activity.

(Once upon a time, I wanted to be an artist)

It is especially frustrating seeing the submissions gallery and thinking, "Yes, that's perfect! Why didn't I think of that? Genius!" I do not envy the judges of this contest. There are so many fantastic contenders.

So, it's not likely that I'll come up with a brilliant photo submission before Saturday's 9 am deadline. But, I'm looking forward to seeing which deserving photo wins the contest. I'd name my favorite here. But, my ego won't let me subject myself to being wrong at this time.

How about if I distract you for a moment with this relevant video...


  1. I was wondering why we got so few submissions.
    That makes a lot of sense. "Why we run?" might be a question too intimidating to answer with a single image. I probably wouldn't have submitted anything either. Next year maybe we will go with a more accessible theme.

    On the other hand, it is FREE. Just submit something!

    I guess photography is kind of like trail running. To succeed, you gotta be fearless...

  2. It's a fantastically thought provoking, theme! I've been really excited about it every time the contest came to mind. I've just been too timid to submit something. I mean, you'd probably laugh, right? Make fun of me. Come up with a derogatory nickname for me. Then, when I finally talk to you at a race, I'd be all awkward... ;-P

    Honestly, I think you should go with the same theme again. Or, at least suggest this theme and an alternate theme. Then promote the hell out of the contest. I swear I'd develop more contest-worthy courage next year.

  3. Life is short and beautiful. Don't let timidity rob you of enjoying its beauty. Critics be damned! Do it for yourself and no one else.



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