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When a photo is shared

Today has been one of those days.

Not one of those days. But one of those days where everything makes sense. Where you realize the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into something is starting to be realized.

About two weeks ago I received a comment on one of my photos on Instagram that was, in essence, “we’d like to share your image, let us know if we can!” I get these types of comments somewhat regularly, so I didn’t think much of it as I completed the process. After I submitted the form I realized what organization was asking to share one of my images. One of MY images.

This morning I woke up two minutes before my alarm was set to go off, feeling strangely rested. I rolled over and picked up my phone to see a dozen or more notifications. “That’s weird,” I thought, still blurry eyed. When my eyes finally focused I realized what was going on. @explorecanada had shared my image of the new Raven Lake cabin under the Milky Way.

As the day went on, I had a bit of a bounce in my step. Every once and a while I would check the post out of curiosity (and a bit of narcissism.) It was about two hours later I first saw “...and thousands of others liked this.” Thousands.

Ever since Instagram removed the ‘like’ counts from photos I never really knew the reach of shared photos. I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to statistics. For the non-Instagram people, the typical wording is “...and others liked this.” No suggestions of any value. But today it said “...and thousands of others...” THOUSANDS.

The first message I received was from my dad asking who Explore Canada is. When I shared that it is the Canadian tourism crown corporation, I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m pretty sure the people I passed at the grocery store were a little concerned.

Later in the afternoon, after several other messages of support and congratulations, I received a message from a good friend saying “...that account is followed by 1.7 million people...” I needed a second to compose myself. That’s more than the population of Manitoba (1.2 million) who could potentially see my image.

I knew this image was special from the beginning. It called me to look away from the dancing northern lights for goodness sake. After I first posted it on Instagram, it quickly caught the attention of the designer and construction team of the new cabin. That was a first for me. I wouldn’t have thought a spur-of-the-moment photo would turn into this.

I don’t practice photography for money, likes, or shares. Those are all just icing on the cake. Don’t get me wrong, though. I do love to see people interacting with my photography. And when I see my calendar hanging on someone’s wall. But I do photography for myself. Photography forces me to slow down, clear my mind of everything, and to focus on one single composition in one single frame. It gets me out into the fresh air and down a trail, often with a good friend or two.

Some days the image just doesn’t work out. Or what I thought did work out, didn’t once I saw it on a computer screen. But it’s those days I have to take it in stride, learn for next time, and move on. The Raven Lake cabin photo (which I’m still searching for a name for the image, by the way) was the result of many nights of failed astrophotography, that just happened to work out this time.

The stars lined up for this one.

Pun fully intended.

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