I have entered my photography in the National Arts Program's annual show for the last few years. The first year, I was just excited to have enough courage to put my work out there for the public to see. I didn't win anything, but I was happy I did it. The second time, I actually won for my division! It was a $100 prize, which I thought was pretty amazing (the prize AND the money!). This year, I didn't end up winning a prize, but I ended up selling both of my pieces. To me, that was more flattering because it meant that people liked them enough to want to put the pieces up in their homes.
I titled one of the pieces "Olympic Mountain". It was a photo of the Inuksuk from the 2010 Winter Olympics on the top of Whistler Mountain, Canada. I took this photo on my most recent trip up there. It was a glorious day and we were way above the clouds, which created a very unique view. It was the first time I was able to bring my 5 year old daughter to the very top and her first time skiing all the way down. I was so proud of her! Not just because she could ski, but because she and I have endured a lot of hardship and loss over the last few years and here we were, just the two of us, still able to stand on top of the world and make our way down together. It was a really wonderful day and whenever I see this photo, I am reminded of that day.
I had no idea that this photo would mean anything to anyone else. But after being displayed in the art show, I got a call from someone that wanted to buy it. Seeing it brought back a lot of memories for him and he wanted to give it to his wife as a gift. He told me why it meant so much to him - He and his wife have been to Whistler many times, but their last trip was really special. They had an amazing opportunity to go during the actual Olympic games! But that's not why that last trip was so significant. Soon after coming home from their trip, they found out that she had cancer. It marked the beginning of a very long, painful, and scary road for both of them. Luckily, she was able to beat the cancer and is much better now. But he told me that when he saw the photo, it made him remember their last trip to Whistler and how happy they were before her fight with cancer. He wanted to give it to her not only as an anniversary gift, but also to show her how grateful he is that they can still celebrate it together.
Attached is a picture of my wife and me at the Olympics in front of the statue. The picture you took now hangs prominently in our living room; it brings us back to a very happy time in our lives. Shortly after this vacation we were thrown into a brutal battle with Cancer. When I gave it to her for our anniversary there were many tears of joy. Just wanted to let you know the pleasure you and your camera provided us.
Thanks again, Tony"
That is probably the best compliment I could ever get as a photographer. It means so much more than winning a prize. Thank YOU, Tony, for sharing your story with me and I wish you and your wife all the best!