Pictured above are portions of two photographs of the same pair of shoes taken nearly five years apart. The photo on the left won a small online photo contest when I was a wet behind the ears beginner to photography. The following is the post I wrote on the contest’s Web site in response to the victory, illustrating how I came to shoot the shot and the price we sometimes have to pay to create our art.

“I promised you a story, so here it is. I fretted about the upcoming clothes and shoes themed contest. I kept thinking of all the awful shots I would take with pre-arranged setups indoors. With my inadequate skill with lighting, I could see all the ghastly shadows being cast about here and there in the nooks and crannies of whatever clothing I would choose to become infamous.

In short, I was concerned.

In order to negate my photographic shortcomings, I decided I had to shoot something outside and it had to be shoes. With natural light, and none of those nasty creases and folds that fabric tends to bring to the forefront, I thought I might have a chance at producing something good enough to be passable.

For the subject, I decided upon an old pair of shoes I’ve recently started wearing again. Theses low-cut Timberland hiking shoes of mine were a mainstay of my college days. They are green with brown trim, unspeakably ugly and I love them more than someone should care for an inanimate object without the proper authorities getting involved.

After an interminable wait, there was a break in the early summer New England rain and I ventured into my backyard with the shoes and camera gear in hand. I broke out my mini-tripod and started my setup. I got on my belly looked through the viewfinder and didn’t like what I saw. I initially wanted a much closer crop on the worn out tips of the shoes, but it wasn’t coming out the same in the viewer as it was in my minds-eye. I decided maybe a wider shot would be better so I backed up my tripod. Still being on my belly the tripod was now in my chest and I wasn’t far enough back to see the viewfinder and frame my shot. I shimmied backwards and immediately felt a strange sensation in my left thigh.

I rolled over and immediately noticed something peculiar about my leg. To the best of my ability, I couldn’t recall ever having a 4-inch long carpet nail embedded 2 inches into my upper thigh. All the visual evidence at the time seemed to indicate my memory might be bit faulty because there it was. I suddenly had an involuntary flashback to a conversation my wife and I had a few days earlier as we were pulling carpet out of our nursery-to-be on the second floor of our home.

Wife: “Brian, are you sure it’s okay to throw this carpet tack out the window?”
“Absolutely, this is what contractors do! I’m going to pick all this stuff up, and it’s a lot easier than hauling a garbage can down the stairs!”
“Are you sure?”
Brian: “Yes, I’m sure, and it’s not like we walk around in the back with our bare feet!”

Feet no. Thighs…well, who would have figured? Undeterred I pulled the nail out and got my shot. After consultation with my y chromosome (and some shady medical web sites), I decided that no tetanus shot was needed and I could go about my daily life unfeterred by puncture wounds and trips to the emergency room.

The next day after much swelling and threatening looks from my wife, I once again tried to consult my y chromosome but his personal assistant said something about a prior commitment and sent me to his voice mail. 2 hours later I emerged from the emergency room with a tetanus shot, the ability to puncture myself well into my 30’s, and a week’s worth of antibiotics.

I’m certainly glad my time spent in the ER (the majority of which was spent sitting next to the elderly lady who had no idea her loud beeping pocket bingo game was just one B 13 away from beign tossed out the window) was not in vain.”