I’ve only really been doing fine art photography for a grand total of… 3 years? I feel as if I wasn’t at least mildly good at it till about a year and a half ago. Until then, it was a lot of experimentation and finding my way. But, in the last three years, I haven’t been told no.
Now, it’s not like I was asking the Smithsonian, but I have submitted my fair share of places. Little magazines, a couple of art shows, websites, things like that. My work has been received fairly well – even the stuff I (regrettably) barley put time into. It was never a full blown feature, I still got something out of the people or places that I asked.
I never expected to not get told no. In fact, it was something I expected more than anything. My mom always said to me and my brother to put ourselves out there, let ourselves be rejected so we could get used to it and it wouldn’t bother us. She didn’t want us to be scared of the rejection we would inevitably face in our lives and in our careers. Sounds a little harsh, I know! She’s a sweet woman I promise. Thankfully, I was just lucky enough for around 3 years to not have to face it. Or I was until two days ago!
The first “No” was from a creative image stock photo website. I submitted a folder with over 20 of my images, and they turned down all of them. I wasn’t completely surprised as there was some of the “experimentation” images in the folder, but it was still a blatant “No”. I read the email and kind of sat there with a, “hmpf” feeling.
A couple weeks ago I also submitted to the largest art call I’d ever submitted to. I took the photo I submitted twice. I edited it for two days. It had symbolism, story, and a concept that was close to my heart. Then, as I was sitting in Taco Bell with my boyfriend I got the response email. Another no. That one hurt a little just because of how much work was put into the photo that was made specifically for this show, but somehow that also made it even better.
My work was rejected twice in one day and I felt relieved.
The moral of what I’m trying to say is this: Rejection is important, and it shouldn’t be feared. In your career, and in life as a whole, there is going to be a lot of no’s. Some for things that aren’t that important to you, and some for things that are. Rejection will make the acceptance that much sweeter. Eventually, rejection will be a brush off your shoulders. It will make you work harder for the yes’s in life.
This rejection for me has pushed me to strive for personal exhibitions, and to work on different series to present to galleries. Along with that, focusing on the quality of stories, quality of my work, even the quality of presenting my work. (This is also thanks to Brooke Shaden’s 20 day portfolio renovation!)
I am thankful for the motivation this has given me, and weirdly enough, the confidence as well.