Yesterday was our middle school robotics group’s first competition. All the other schools at the event were high school level, so we went knowing that it was “for the experience” and, possibly, to open their eyes and to inspire them to what is possible in robot design. It was my first time seeing VEX robots in action. I knew a good bit about this year’s Sack Attack challenge from my work at Science Buddies. But I haven’t been involved in the robotics club at all. (He’s at that age!) So it was interesting to see what they had done and what others had done, given the same challenge and design and game objectives.
Once I decided to go, I responded to the query for a photographer. If no one else had offered, I said, I would shoot the event. “Are you a professional photographer,” was the reply.
You know how I responded in my head!
I explained that I don’t have the best camera (wish I could afford an upgrade) and that I am not a professional… but that I know what I am doing and have experience. How else do you respond to that question when you are an amateur, a hobbyist, someone for whom photography is one of many, many half-studied and loved creative pastimes?
So I went. I felt self-conscious. I shot.
And… I failed.
I was so disheartened this morning to pull up the day’s photos and find that though things looked fine on-screen while I was shooting… the lighting indoors was more of a challenge than I had realized. Far too many shots are less crisp than I would like. The kids were constantly in motion tinkering with the bots, and so there are far too many with blur (of hands). Ugggh. Just so disappointing. And I hate to even show the set. When I told the robotics member… he, too, was disappointed. That was interested… that’s the kind of comment that sends me wondering… disappointed because he will be embarrassed they are not great? Disappointed because he wanted to be able to show off what I could do? I just don’t know.
How many times can I wish for a different reality — on that would bring a camera upgrade? Every time I think we are back on track, the ground falls away again, and I find myself scrambling to keep perspective on whether or not I can even make ends meet. A camera is not a necessity.
Maybe next time I should just say no (or not volunteer).
I was not blogging or podcasting last year when a similar moment happened. But that time… my shots turned out fine, fully of story and tone. That time… led me to go ahead and say yes this time.
It was a very long day. We planned to be there just a few hours, home just after lunch so that I could have an afternoon of sewing while the kids absorbed themselves in minecraft and the science fair display board sections were typed up (hopefully not in that order). But at 4PM, the qualifying rounds were just ending. It was a very long day of standing around and, mostly, waiting and doing nothing.
I was so tired when I got home, I did something really indulgent and odd, something I used to do when I was 20-something. I had buttered popcorn and chocolate-covered toffee for dinner. There ya go!