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**LJ Idol Season 4 Week 19 Entry: Hear Me Roar**

**Note: This was my final entry. I as voted off this week. I’m proud to make it to the top 37 out of 154 original contestants. Thanks for the fun ride!**

Late last spring my friend called me, frantic.  She is on staff for a convention that lost their photographer at the last minute and needed a replacement at very short notice.

She pimped me.

That was all it took to get the cherry gig of convention photographer at ShoreLeave.  The perks involved a dedicated seat in the front row, a free badge into the convention, lunch for two days, and the freedom to shoot the guests as often as I pleased.

Let me think about this.

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two months later I attended ShoreLeave for the first time in nearly two decades.  I skipped the usual costume fun for easy to move in clothes.  With my digital SLR strapped to my neck and loads of memory in my pocket, I began shooting right away.

And shoot I did, 2500 photos later I finished for the weekend.  I spent more time on my feet walking in that one weekend than I did in the previous month.  It only took me three months to wade through the digital media. Thank goodness it wasn’t film!

Many photos went to the digital hard drive in the sky while others brought me great pride.  Especially one that I set to print early Sunday morning so as to get it autographed later that day.

My photograph of Uhura from Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols.

On Saturday, the beautiful and amazing Nichelle Nichols spoke to the gathered crowd.  This woman invented aging well.  Fifty odd years later and she still looks just as amazing as on the show that made her famous.  I can only hope to be so lucky.  I snapped one of my favourite pictures of all time while she spoke, and it floored me.  (And everyone else I showed it to.)

All day Sunday I carried that 8×10 in my bag eagerly waiting for Mrs Nichols’ autographing session.  My role as convention photographer allowed for me to jump to the head of the class shortening my wait in line.

While waiting, people in both the staff and patron lines said the same thing to me.  “Mrs. Nichols will love this photo.  Wow, you took that?”

Two past presidents of the organization behind Shoreleave informed me, “She will want a copy of that.  You need to make her one.”

I did not believe them.

One of those two women happened to be Mrs. Nichols’s handler for the weekend.  When I stepped up to the table she took my picture and quickly hid it with a smile.  Mrs Nichols was far too busy inquiring after my photographic endeavors to notice anything awry.

When slipped the photograph from her handler, Mrs. Nichols just took it in, her hand covering her mouth.  Glossy.  8×10.  Her.  The day before.  You could see these thoughts cross over her face.

“Dahling, there is one problem with this photo.”  She drawled.  Yes, I said drawled.

Panic!  I thought about all the gross errors in my candid photo.  Her pinkie finger was cut off, bad colouring, maybe some cropping work could improve the centering.  What was it?  My heart pounded in my chest and I gulped.

“What is that, Mrs. Nichols?”

“Oh dahling, you aren’t getting this back.”

Wha—?

And then I noticed.  Beside her sat her handler, clutching tightly to her stomach with head thrown back in laughter.  The current convention chair on the other side scrambling to see what all the fuss was about.

“Um… what do you mean?”  Yes, I was that stupid.

“Dahling, this is absolutely fabulous!  I love it!  I want it!”

Yes, she signed my photo and I then spent the next hour jumping through hoops to get her a copy of the print as that corner of Maryland still observes the old Blue Laws.

She hugged me, kissed my cheeks, and thanked me for her photo.  The whole time I did not know what to make of any of it.  This is Nichelle Nichols after all.  She has real photographers to make sure she looks absolutely fantastic.  She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  She hangs out with celebrities like William Shatner who might see this picture.

Who am I to have such honour?  Just a nobody girl in Virginia that got lucky.

The highlight of my amateur photography career happened this day last summer.  Her love, her zeal for my photograph.  Her asking if she could have the digital image.  I am still trying to get it to her.  Apparently she wants to “use it”.  Yes, my photo.

Unbelievable.

I love photography.  Every time I take a photo for someone and they love it I feel so good inside.  Capturing someone’s special moment is a miraculous gift.  I appreciate the invitation to share it and hope I can achieve the desired effect with my photographs.

I struggle finding satisfaction with my work. I critique myself far worse than anyone else. In every photo, I see flaws, things I should do better next time. I fear rejection so I spend hours painstakingly digging through my photographs. Even so, when I finally hand them over people love them. And that is when I finally feel good about my work. It does not stop me from constantly revisiting past jobs, looking for more to do to improve the photos, but I feel satisfied in a job well done.

Next up, a wedding in Arizona.  I cannot wait.  Though not on the same level as Nichelle Nichols, it still brings me excitement and joy.

I am photog – hear me click! With the camera glued to my eye, I see through my lens. I capture the moments as they enter my viewfinder. My SLR mirror flips continuously, a clunky clicky sound that I adore. What shall I shoot next? Only my Canon knows for sure.

For your enjoyment, here are a few of my other photos from Shoreleave:











–Lady O

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