Mail in an entry form or a winning bottle cap, and who knows how many hundreds of thousands of other people are doing the same thing in the same contest. The odds are against your winning anything substantial, though you just might. I won a trip to Hong Kong once, which is why I never expect to win anything like that ever again. Follow the right people or businesses on Twitter, though, or like the right people or businesses on Facebook, and your odds might be better. In the last six months, I've won seven books (six in one contest and one in another) merely by re-tweeting an item or commenting on a Facebook post. I also won this image which looks like this on my wall by relating one of my crazy dreams on Facebook. The first image looks much better, because that's a thumbnail taken by the professional photographer from whom I won the print. I took the bottom photo, and I'm a rank amateur.
How I managed to win the print makes a moderately good story. When the husband and I decided to go to Iceland for our 25th wedding anniversary and try to see the Northern Lights, I decided I wanted not only to see them but also to try to photograph them. I asked one of our master kendo instructors who freelances in photography if he had any pointers. He didn't but suggested I look at the Facebook page of Karl Johnston, a photographer in the Northwest Territories. "Friend him and ask him how he does it," my kendo friend said. "He's pretty amazing." He is, as you can see here. Basically shy person that I am (blogging is really pretty anonymous when it comes right down to it), I couldn't just ask this person how he took such great photos. Instead, I called on my friend Google and read various posts that were out there, and while I in no way came up with anything jaw-dropping, I think I did okay for a rank amateur first-timer using a cheap tripod and an entry-level DSLR camera and lens. I blogged about one of the shots here.
Anyway, I kept following Karl on Facebook and checked his blog and website regularly. I probably would have purchased a print from Karl at some point as a gift for my dad; unfortunately, Dad passed away before I could do that. At one point, Karl invited people to comment with dream stories, offering three of his prints as prizes. I posted several of my dreams and lo and behold, won one of the prints. As you can see, it's pretty darn gorgeous, and it has a place of honour (Canadian spelling) in the living room. I look at it often, especially as I enter various web contests offering trips to Iceland as prizes. If I make it back, I think I might feel comfortable asking Karl for advice this time.