Life is like a box of chocolates / How I won a DFA award

Life is like a box of chocolates / How I won a DFA award

On March 11th I went with my 2 and a half months old baby Pavle to the doctor’s to do the usual hip exam. 

If you would ask me what is he like as a baby, I would politely say he has certain issues. With… well a lot of stuff, like driving in the car, falling asleep, staying asleep, being without a boob in his mouth, wanting, I mean NOT wanting a pacifier and a whole lot more. 

So of course, what he knows the best is to cry. And that’s not something so interesting while driving. At first I try to calm him down which in 98% of cases ends up unsuccessfully. Then I, as a wise mother of three children, just give up and wait for him to stop by himself. 

I was just in between of my internal agreements whether to stick or to quit when red traffic light caught us on a rather big crossing. 

I had to stop yet he didn’t.

From my left side I saw a girl with a violin slowly approaching between the cars and starting to play. 

Never before have I encountered this kind of performance in traffic and while I was admiring her, I couldn’t not notice something else. The scene was evolving in front of me, I’ve seen it coming. The irony of everything, my double sensation, the music all around me. My desperate baby screaming accompanied with her gentle playing. What a wonderful duet that was!

Documentary family photographer in me couldn’t afford to miss that moment and fortunately my cell phone is always somewhere around… Thanks goodness on all of my addictions! Like a hungry animal I was patiently lurking for her to come where I wanted so I could eat them both in one bite.

Sorry, I got carried away a bit. I wanted is to juxtapose the two of them. And I clicked.

She passed my car and the light turned green. As humor is big part of who I am, I was happy because I managed to entertain myself, even (or especially) with Pavle being himself, pain in the butt. I proudly shared my ‘uncomplicated’ baby in my IG story, unedited like it was taken, and moved on with life, not thinking about it much further. 

Miracles do happen

Two days later, I was chatting with two of my closest photographer friends, we touched upcoming DFA and out of nowhere Ana struck me – you have to submit that photo with the girl with the violin. It’s excellent. 

Being very cripple when talking about me and for heaven’s sake – receiving a compliment, oh no, no, no! She must have messed up something. 

Who me!? What!? How? Why? 

I was sincerely flattered but at the same time Mr. Impostor thought Ana has some hormonal disturbances. And I wasn’t even having any plans on participating this time at all. I’m no good, it’s not worth. 

As the deadline approached, the worm inside me changed my mind and I made my selection. Without the photo Ana suggested, of course. 

The net tangled further on when our silent player from the back, Polona, introduced us with the new DFA option of nominating a fellow photographer. Sure! Why not!? Another chance where others will win! 

Question was raised who will nominate who, the arrow pointed Ana to my direction. It makes sense with photo she already liked that much. Not my idea but I loved it and already loved the story behind. 

Without any winning enthusiasm and all worn out from my regular life with three kids 24/7, live judging was way out of my remembrance range.

And then exactly, but exactly, two months after Pavle’s singing episode (and a myriad of his other episodes), I was putting him to sleep when the messages started coming – your photo is in the final selection. 

It is in. 

Hahaha what!? How? Why? 

I tuned in immediately. With my shaking out of excitement hands I managed to screw the broadcast right at the moment when they were talking about my photo. Messages again – it reminds them on Elliott Erwitt. And Richard Kalvar. Mixture of ‘yeah right’ and ‘tell me more’ spinning in me. 

I almost fainted. 

I kept on watching and listening and laughing and laughing and laughing even more and just couldn’t believe what was going on, how our script unraveled.

That night the stars aligned also with my neighbor who was celebrating the birth of his son. Their singing and playing was coming from the window and I felt as if they were celebrating for me. Nothing happens by coincidence.

From not considering on participating in this round and without even entering by myself to winning 2nd place in cell phone category. Later on, even entering into best overall selection. How incredible that is!? 

Around a year ago, it was Polona who asked me if I knew Ana. I didn’t. But when I got to meet her for the first time I was kinda in love, feeling like Forrest’s mama used to say: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. 

“Often we can be our own worst critic and yet our friends often see something in our photos we can’t see ourselves.” , explained DFA newsletter. THIS is exactly what happened here. 

This miraculous story is about the strength that lies in supporting each other. It’s about the community, generous sharing and importance of pushing and pulling each other. 

The story is also about being blind about your own work and learning to value your self. As I’m too often focused on my gap and some elusive place where I would like to be in my photography, to be recognized among such a huge competition is a success I’m still learning to appreciate.

It’s not only a photography award but I see it also as if life is saying – withstand.  

Mama was right – LIFE really IS LIKE A BOX OF CHOCOLATES. 

I could never tell how delicious this bite would be. 

documentary family award shot on iphone. black and white photo of a baby crying and a girl playing violin

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