BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS
Rejection in the life of a photographer can come in many forms. It could be the loss of a sale, heavy criticism from a peer, or the failure to win or place in a contest. It is how we conduct ourselves after experiencing one these negative moments that directly reflects upon our character.
The fact is, people are always watching our every movement. The saying is true that just when you thought no one was looking, they probably were. For this reason, I always tell my daughter, "Behave in private exactly how you would if I am there watching." Prevention is sometimes half the cure!
Everyone's a critic
It seems there is always that single soul who feels the need to go against the grain and speak their words too harshly. When you run up against this person, who doesn't seem to "get" what you were trying to convey, comfort yourself in the fact there are others who do. Realize that the percentage of people who loved your photograph outweighs that one bitter critic. After all, one person does not make a crowd.
In the end, the biggest person I have to please is myself. If I am happy with a shot, then I am happy. Sometimes it really is that simple.
So you lost the contest, it isn't always necessary to "burn all your bridges" behind you. Remember that sometimes things just don't go as planned. It could be the critics were right. Maybe you did overexpose the shot. Maybe it was a bit out of focus. Always be willing to listen to what was said and then take the time to think about it. This will not only make you a better photographer, but will give you a thicker skin for the next time.
Tell yourself there WILL be a next time. In the height of the pain of rejection is perhaps not the moment to make a decision about your future. Instead, sit down, take a deep breath, and do something not photography related. Go bake a cake or mow the yard. Remind yourself you are human and have a life outside of your camera lens. Losing sight of our "humanness" is a sure way to feel worse in these situations instead of better.
Return to your roots
Go back to what made you love photography in the first place. Take a trip to the park, or sit and photograph the birds at your feeder. But go without plans to do anything at all with your work. Believe it or not, you'll find great freedom in having no intended purpose. Photography is supposed to be fun. As soon as you find it is becoming a chore is a great time to reevaluate your objective.
Handling rejection properly, keeping your head about yourself and not losing control, is key to furthering yourself in the photographic field. I am reminded daily of how small and insignificant my work really is, and that may seem to be counterproductive. Yet, somehow instead it makes me more level-headed and the compliments I do receive that much sweeter to accept.
* I always try to make my photographs fit the theme of the article. If you find yourself wondering why I picked these three. It is because they all represent the type of photography I particularly love. They are, in short, what makes me happy.
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.