Photo contests are not my jam. I mean seriously, how arbitrary for a gaggle of humans to pick “the best” anything. The best of “anything” is as diverse an opinion as the people that are trying to personally best their things. I get it, our homosapien mind wants to categorize things; anything and everything must fit in a category in order for us to feel valid, sorted, orderly. Even in photo contests, place “the best” in order, we judge things into boxes to understand them. Silliness.
I spend way too much time (and money) at National Camera. Recently upon entering the front door, I was overtly greeted with a large advertisement that wheeled words that glued me to it. It read, “Fall in Love with Autumn – A National Camera Photography Contest.” Whelp, how can I not be compelled to invest and recognize the slight serge of personal namesake ownership of this contest. I mean really, when National Camera names a photo-contest after me, I best show up for it.
Then this happened; with great intention, I hopped online and perused the past winners. And, the beautiful and worthy pics were of lots of barns. Barns and lakes and quiet white people. Hmmmm, I thought. This is not the Minnesota fall I know. The Minne-fall I love is full of diversity and city musings and overt-merriment.
One glorious, crisp, windy, fall afternoon, many seasons ago, I was headed to the Karmel Mall in Minneapolis for henna and tea with my daughter. Lake Street was an organized-scatter…as if all the villagers knew winter was coming and it was urgent to task-scrabble before the first snow. As we meandered towards the scent of cardamom, a group of women rustled along ahead of us; with bright hijabs in an explosion of color, their long mosaic flowy skirts fluttered. Crisp leaves swirled around their feet blurring the red and yellow hues between their coverings and that of the earth. Beautiful, I thought. “Beautiful,” my daughter said. This is true Minneapolis. The women held their hands to their heads to keep their scarfs stable, laughed with big smiles and twinkling eyes, and swished their way among the falling leaves out of sight.
I reckon I never will forget that image; when promoted to think about fall, here, I think about that. So National Camera, I am gonna toss some diversity into your contest. Those women bustling in the fall palate, mirroring nature or nature mirroring them, was darn near the most gorgeous autumn thing I have ever seen. I can never recreate that picture-moment, trust me…I have tried, but I can honor the diversity and beauty of fall for more us. We are soooooo much more than barns, lakes and quiet white people and I think that will always make us “the best.”
Fall in love with autumn.