Many many years ago, I submitted a 35mm slide to a Baltimore radio stations calendar contest. I was in college at the time and they were giving suggestions over the air related to themes and places that would make good subjects. I went to one that was local and got a really nice shot of the sunset going down over a large farm field full of horses. That year I bested over five hundred entries for first place. On top of having my image distributed as twenty thousand calendars with my name on it, I won a nice Canon 35mm SLR and they threw a really nice banquet for the winners. Couple of years later I won second place for the same contest with another farm scene, thus getting some free landscaping for my parents house- as a prize. Although winning at the time sort of made me somewhat cocky, those two winnings set me up to go on to shooting for a few magazines, and eventually I was freelancing regularly.