Last week, as I was perusing my daily share of blogs, I stumbled upon one post which made me angry. Really angry. It also made me sad.
The blog post that I'm referring to appeared last Thursday, August 27 on Scott Kelby's blog, which I read daily. In his blog post titled 'A Great Day for Sports Photography,' Scott Kelby explained how one talented photographer (Alex Walker) was denied an amazing opportunity. Here's the story, in case you aren't familiar with it.
On August 3, Scott Kelby announced an awesome contest to his readers. It was called 'Shoot on the Sidelines with Scott & Mike,' and you can watch the video which explains what the contest is about here. Essentially, it was an amazing opportunity for an amateur sports photographer to fulfill his or her dream to shoot on the sidelines at a big-time college football game; the game would be held at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, as the Florida State Seminoles host the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Amateur photographers submitted hundreds of photos to the flickr group (disclosure: I entered the contest as well), and Mike Olivella (who is a sports photographer working for Florida State University) would pick the winning entry later on in August. All in all, more than eight hundred photos were posted to the Flickr group, which of course made the decision to pick a single photo as the winning photo a challenge.
Well, on August 24th, Scott Kelby made a post on his blog announcing the winner of the contest. The winning photo (which you can see here) was captured by Alex Walker. I was happy to see such a quality photo chosen as the winner (in fact, go see Scott Kelby's post 'The Winner of the “Shoot on the Sidelines with Scott & Mike” Contest is…' for the winning image and the runner-up images, which are spectacular as well).
But then, on August 27 (just three days later after Alex Walker was announced as the winner), things took a turn for the worse as Scott Kelby made a post notifying the general public that Alex Walker would not, in fact, be able to participate in this (perhaps) once in a lifetime opportunity. And who was to blame? These elitist sports photographers who somehow felt threatened that an amateur would be 'running amok' them. As Scott Kelby writes on his blog:
A very vocal group of sports photographers were outraged at the fact that we did this contest in the first place. They didn’t feel an amateur, no matter how talented, had any place in “their world.” They were very bitter, angry, and made it very clear in online forums that having the winner on the sidelines was absolutely unacceptable.
When I read that blog post, I was absolutely outraged. Who were these photographers? Why did they feel threatened by an amateur photographer who would photograph a single game? In yesterday's blog post, I mentioned how these professional photographers think that eventually these [amateur] photographers will become their competition. In no uncertain terms, I made it clear that these professional photographers lead sorry and pathetic lives. In case you want to see how these professional sports photographers reacted, you only have to check out the sportsshoter forum, where these so called professional photographers stooped to such a low level, that to call them professionals (in any sense of the word) is a downright embarrassment. I won't post any quotes from the forum, but these photographers had an agenda, and they were bitter (not to mention belligerent) that an amateur would shoot alongside them.
There are a few questions to consider about how this fiasco has played out. First, why were these professional photographers so insecure? Second, would Alex really be imposing to these professionals while on the field (what's one more person on the already packed sidelines)? But perhaps the most important question to ask is this: what would it have cost you (i.e., these so-called professional sports photographers) to have let the contest stand and allow Alex to shoot on the sidelines?
Scott Kelby provides the answer.
I guess these sports photographers felt it was really important for them to keep Alex off the sidelines, even though doing so:So what would it cost these professional photographers if Alex was there for one game? Answer: it would cost them nothing. Actually, it would cost them something, and it is this: their reputation. For the way these sports photographers behaved is not only ludicrous, it is downright shameful. Just typing out these sentences makes me really angry... There was some good news that came out of this whole situation, and it is that there were hundreds of other photographers who chimed in with similar thoughts and opinions on Scott's blog and on their own blogs as well. The shared sentiment was so inspiring that there were offers for Alex to shoot at other major sporting events.
The bigger issue of this blog post is to highlight (with the example above) how certain things, events, and the things we do have a cost associated behind them. Complaining to FSU to get Alex off the sidelines cost these photographers nothing, but cost so much to Alex because of the denied opportunity. Karma has a special way of working out, however, and I'm sure Alex will get more exposure and perhaps even a better opportunity to shoot a professional sports game in the near future.
Writing a blog post, posting links on facebook, commenting on photoblogs: all these things are wonderful and guess what? They cost you nothing. If you really want to be technical, then yes, there is the opportunity cost of a few minutes (or just seconds) that you took which could have been used in an alternative way. How long does it take one to retweet a message on twitter? Maybe thirty seconds for me. This is why I am embracing twitter: the community (which you can build up by following people that interest you) is thriving. One of the major things I see is the wealth of information that is shared. I could spend hours perusing my stream, following different links, and so on. It's wonderful. When a particular link strikes me, I will retweet it. And I learn so much every day. It's really amazing.
But here's something else that's cool: you can also help people out. Just today, one of my twitter friends asked a question about how to eject a CD on a Mac. I saw the tweet show up in my stream. I knew the answer to the question. Here's the kicker: by the time I have already read the tweet, decided that I know the answer, what barrier do I have to provide the answer (outside of a few seconds of typing the answer)? In other words, it costs me absolutely nothing to respond back (which I did; answer: open up Terminal and type drutil tray eject), and I received a positive response. It cost me nothing to provide this response, and it helped make someone's day more positive. You know that old adage we learned in school that 'sharing is caring'? Well, I believe that. I embrace it as well. Do you?
So I have a question for you. Suppose you read a compelling blog post or see a question on twitter to which you know the answer. By the time you have finished reading it, what's preventing you from making an impact? Is it really the twenty to thirty seconds of your life in which you might choose to do something different? Perhaps the answer is yes, but I'm willing to bet that situation is rare.
Which leads me to the picture in today's blog post. I could just write a few words about how this was an awesome food stand in New York City. But you know what? I will not just stop there, because I want to share something else. In particular, this is the Quik Meal Cart located on the corner of 45th and 6th streets in the Theater district of Manhattan. The proprietor of Quik Meal is Mohammed Ramman. He was born in Bangladesh, and is famous for working at the Russian Tea Room (this fact particularly intrigues me). I highly suggest reading about the typical 'day in the life of' Muhammed in this post. Pasted on the walls of the cart are various reviews of the food served there, which I highly recommend. Perhaps the most prominent review comes from New York Magazine, which describes Quik Meal as follows:
Sixth Avenue in the mid-Forties is a hub of Manhattan street meat, with competing chicken-lamb-and-rice carts occupying each corner. But only one cart is operated by a chef’s-jacketed, floppy-toqued veteran of the Russian Tea Room. Mohammed Rahman runs his gleaming silver box like a mini-restaurant, expediting orders to his busy crew and chatting up customers. The Bangladeshi immigrant’s claim to fame is his marinated lamb, a succulent triumph of cumin, coriander, yogurt, and green papaya that’s actual lamb meat, not compressed gyro, rolled up with yogurty white sauce in a puffy pita or served over basmati rice.I myself had the marinated lab sandwich there, and it was absolutely delicious. I am glad I skipped McDonalds on that foggy New York evening.
See what I did there? I just provided a recommendation to an amazing street vendor in New York, and guess what? It cost me nothing to compile except a few minutes of research and typing. And perhaps, after reading this post, if you're in that area of Manhattan, you will pay Quik Meal a visit.
If you're still unsure what the whole point of this post is, I have a favour to ask of you. If you read an interesting story on the news, share the link (after all, you probably would spend more time reading the story compared to the amount of time it would take you to share the story with others). If a particular photo strikes you (not just on my photoblog, but anywhere on the web), share the wealth with others. Comments are particularly amazing. Go out and try this out today for those of you who don't do this already. You never know who you might inspire!
By the time you have finished this post, you may come away thinking one of the following: 1) This was a complete waste of my time or 2) This was interesting or inspirational. If your answer is 1), then no problem (but perhaps if you're so strongly opposed, you should let me know via comments or by email; I highly encourage constructive criticism). If the answer is 2), then please pass the story forward (via email, twitter, or your medium of choice) or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you. I really would.
And please come back tomorrow, for I have a major announcement to make, and I could use your help in spreading the word.
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