• Michelle Levy

Picasso May Already Be on Your Flash Memory Card


It's definitely a question I ask myself.

I wonder if the pictures I love are beautiful enough to be loved by others. "Would someone else hang this in their home? Would someone else be willing to pay for this? Would someone else appreciate the beauty of this photo in a gallery?"

I certainly appreciate the beauty of my work. I have spent hundreds of dollars canvasing my work and hanging it around my home. I've created family photo books that sometimes more-closely resemble coffee table art.

But, it's sometimes difficult to feel good about your art without the validation of others. I know deep down I want to know what someone else thinks...

Not too long ago I had the chance to find out. The City of Chula Vista was holding a photo contest for part of their #THISisChula PR campaign. While I love my city of Chula Vista, those Encinitas-types probably still don't know their way South of the I-8. The #THISisChula contest's purpose was to instill pride in my hometown, and let the rest of the county, or maybe even the world know what we're about. The winner, ironically, would have their photo displayed on a billboard in the trendy Normal Heights.

My dear old mom tagged me in the the contest's Facebook post. I read the rules and immediately began shooting pictures. I had plenty of shots around the city, but I was convinced they weren't the caliber the city was looking for. I was a better photographer now-and I had better equipment now, so I got to work.

After a day of teaching 170-some local 8th graders English, I rushed to my car, racing to get some shots of the nearby marina, lake, and canyon before I lost the sunlight.

I did this for a week, and by the end of the week I was exhausted, but I had some beautiful pictures. I photographed beautiful Herons wading in the reflective canal near J-Street Marina. My lens captured colorful kites hovering, in flight, over the J-Street Marina's rocky shore. One evening, I took pictures of wildflowers glowing in the sunset of Rice Canyon. Rain was good to Chula this year, and I snapped a very lush, green panorama of Otay Lakes.

It turns out I was pretty good because I won 4th place and my photo has been used by the city in their campaign.

The city, however, didn't choose any of those pictures I took the week before the contest deadline. While editing my new pictures of the Chula Vista, I decided to throw in a couple pictures I took a few years prior-and one of those was chosen.

It was one of those pictures that I thought wasn't good enough, fatefully waiting on my memory card in my DSLR for four years.


The photo was taken one sunny afternoon with my mom and husband in tow. Really, I was just trying to get my mom out of the house. She had recently come home from the hospital and was avoiding public places. "Let's go take photos! You like taking pictures." I pleaded. Ultimately, we headed down Proctor Valley Road to Otay Lakes where I grabbed this shot.

So, above all things, while this may be the photo everyone else admired, it has some special meaning for me as well. It wasn't the photo I ran out to take to prove something. It was the photo that represented a memory, and fatefully waited to be remembered again on my flash memory card.

#inspiration #photographer #story

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