This past summer I became involved in an online game for photographers called GuruShots. I have belonged to this site for a while, using it as a way to explore what photographers are doing and expanding my skills and knowledge. This past summer I decided to join a team and explore what this aspect of the game was about.
The team chooses a theme challenge and competes against another team. For example, the current theme is “24 Hours”. The challenges last from a few hours to a day. What do we win? Knowledge, points, and a progression up the board of the game.
I joined the Photography Friends team. I chose this team because of the team description.
“Our team objective is to share in the joy of photography and learn from each other in a friendly atmosphere. Although winning matches and advancing our team is great, it is not our primary goal. If this sounds good to you, please join us.”
I have been learning a lot. I have discovered photos that I had forgotten about and have been amazed at some of my work. I have also been making new friends from around the world.
“Freedom” was the theme of a challenge a few weeks back. The team chose it because it seemed to be an easy challenge to find photos that represented the theme. I began to think about what freedom meant. It would be easy to put up a photo of an eagle or the Flag. This is an international community and those photos lose their meaning once you embrace the world.
I entered photos and they did well. Do I think they represented the topic? No, not really.
These are the four photos. You can double click on them to enlarge them.
Freedom means more to me with each passing day, during this current state of affairs in this country. Freedom means that my voice is heard. When did this country stop respecting the freedom and respect of religious choice? Freedom means I can walk down the street and feel safe and secure. I may feel safe and secure, yet not everyone has that choice and that walk is not free to all.
Freedom means one thing to people with wealth. Freedom may have another meaning to someone homeless and on the streets or existing on a low-income wage.
The more I thought of this contest and the pictures I added the more I felt like I copped out. This was an opportunity for me to address freedom. It may have taken more effort to go out and find symbols of freedom to photograph. What would those symbols be? The freedom to protest. I believe I could have found a symbol of this today. Black Lives Matter. There would have been many opportunities to find symbols of religious freedom. A photograph of the word Voice would have been appropriate and meaningful.
What began as a simple contest evolved into much more as I began to contemplate what freedom really means to me, to this country, and to the world.
Today I would like to commit myself to help others experience freedom without fear. Today I am grateful to experience freedom in all its unique and usual forms. I also make a promise to myself not to cop out when a topic such as this surfaces again.