A couple of years ago, I stumbled across an amazing photography site - 1x.com.
I submitted a couple of my best photos, but they were not accepted. I submitted a couple more, and they too were rejected. It turned out they only accept, on average, about 5% of all submissions - and this is from people who are all sending in their best work.
In March 2009, I gained my first publication on the site, but any thought that I was now one of the in-crowd was quickly dispelled, as it was nearly a year before I had my 2nd image accepted there. And even now, I have only managed to get 7 of my photos up on the site.
However, the site is not only an inspiration visually, there are many people willing to share their knowledge and skills. And if you are prepared to put your ego to one side, you can gain a great deal. In fact, I would credit a fair amount of the improvements I've made in my photography over the past 3 years to what I have learned from 1x.com and several of the members.
It's also been a place where I have made several good online friendships - people from around the world who one day I would love to meet up in person - much like many of the fine bloggers who visit these pages.
One such person, is Argentinian-born architect, Nicolas Marino, who likes to go off adventuring on his bicycle in various parts of the world. And one of his favourite places seems to be Tibet.
The photographs he takes are just stunning. They wouldn't look out of place in National Geographic, and I'm constantly nagging him to make a book of them, just so I can buy a copy.
1x.com has been running a competition over the past few months, and the results were just announced on Monday evening, and to my delight, not only did Nico win, but he won it with this photo, which is one of my all time favourites:
Awakening by Nicolas Marino - worth clicking on for a larger version
It was taken early in the morning after he'd spent the night with a nomadic Tibetan family in their tent. In an earlier forum post, he'd written of the encounter:
"One day during the last trip in Tibet, I camped at the end of the day right before a storm, i had camped quite close to a tent where Tibetan nomads, who take care of their yak herds, live. A few minutes after I had got in my tent and started to snow, the man came to look for me and there was no way he would let me stay there alone. He took me in with his lovely family, they all live inside the tent where the floor is wet grass, the mattresses are arranged around the stove, a few boxes with belongings, a lovely poster of the Dalai Lama, and that's about it. Husband, wife, three kids and the dogs, once I got in, it was like being part of the family, we had a very big dinner they cooked for me. They treated me like one of them and when we went to sleep, the man pointed me to my mattress and put a huge pile of warm blankets and arranged them around my face like my dad used to do when I was a kid, just to make sure I'd sleep comfortable. In the morning, other friends from tents around the area would come to visit and to drink tea with us. The saw me leave, they wouldn't stop giving me things to eat."
Congratulations on winning the 1x.com competition, Nico, and I hope that one day you will find yourself in Scotland where you can share some of your tales in front of a log fire with a dram of single malt.
For more of Nico's images on 1x.com, visit his portfolio here:
And for more stunning images to keep you occupied for hours, visit his Flickr site here: