Saturday, January 7, 2017

How to Survive Rejection in Life and Photography.



“We all learn lessons in life. Some stick, some don't. I have always learned more from rejection and failure than from acceptance and success”.
                                                                                       Henry Rollins

Did you receive something like that - “It is time! Your photo is officially in the running to be crowned...
Share your creativity with the world, inspire others and increase your total votes.”
You felt happy… but soon received the next e-mail: “These are some of the finalists of Our World Photo Contest!” And you didn’t find your name among the finalists… and you were not so happy to read: “Congratulations to everyone that participated in this contest!”
So you’ve met rejection.



We’ve all experienced rejection in one form or another.

Here’s the definition of “rejection” from the Meriram-Webster Dictionary: the action of rejecting; the state of being rejected.

And the definition of “reject”: to refuse to accept, consider, submit to, take for some purpose, or use.

Most of us may have begun to learn the meaning of the word “rejection” when we were children.
Just imagine… the average one year old child hears the word ‘No!’ more than 400 times a day!

Life is full of acceptance and rejection, as well as ups and downs.
Rejection is very much part of human’s life. Everyone gets rejected.
Rejection happens to us in so many ways: it is a part of relationships, the job seeking process, business, art, photography, etc.

                                                              “Everyone fears rejection”.
                                                                                     Derek Jeter


All human beings have a strong need to feel secure. But after you’ve been rejected your sense of security is threatened.
So we all need to know how to respond when we receive rejection.
You are allowed to be upset about rejection. But don’t let it bring you down.

Being rejected doesn't mean someone isn't valued or important. It just means that one time, in one situation, with one person, things didn't work out.

Rejection is a part of the life of any photographer, and for sure you’ll meet people who simply don’t like your photography.
Rejection can come from many different sources: gallery owners, contest judges, other photographers, viewers and clients, stock photography sites.
To embrace rejection is one of the most important elements of succeeding in the photography world.

“Rejection is part of the process, so you can't let it crush you”.                                                                        Jojo Moyes


There are many reasons for a rejection.

Often the rejection doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the photographer’s (or any other artist’s) work.

The gallery owners have to sell art work to stay in business.
Maybe your style of photography doesn’t match the style they represent.
The gallery might already represent an artist/photographer who fills some niche for them.
The price might be too high for the gallery.
Or maybe they just don’t like your work. Art is so subjective. Not everyone has the same taste. Not everyone will understand your message.

Some viewers will criticize everything they see.   Their rejection of your photography is only their attitude toward life.

  Most people (from gallery owners to strangers) know less about your work than you, yourself.
The best strategy to deal with rejection is to ignore most critiques and instead focus on the people that appreciate your photography.

There are three types of rejection:

1) “a definite no” (for example, a gallery owner feels your work is not right for them).
Take criticisms as a learning opportunity. And remember, there are many other art/photo galleries and more outlets for promoting your photography.

2)  “stay in touch” (for example, a gallery owner likes your work but it doesn’t fit into the scheme of their exhibition).
Remind them they invited you to stay in touch, and invite them to view your newest work on your blog/website.

3) “bring in some more work” (for example, a gallery owner likes your work and thinks it might fit into the scheme of a future exhibition).


Despite all the types of rejection, the most important part is to not give up. 

Learn to move on from hearing the word ‘no’

                “Rejection just motivates me to keep trying and to try to do better”.                                                                        Sasha Grey

How do creative people learn to deal with rejection?

Many quit and stay with their day jobs. It's much easier just to cash your paycheck. Some turn to related professions.

Some keep going. No matter what.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”.                                      Buddha

Here some great examples for you.

 Vincent Van Gogh is considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time.
 He created more than 900 paintings during his lifetime, but only one painting was sold. Despite this, he continued working throughout his life, never seeing success himself.

 Julia Margaret Cameron was a British photographer who had an important influence on modern photography. During her time, Cameron’s style was often rejected and criticized. But Cameron believed in it herself.
 Only after her death her photography was praised.

 Agatha Christie had to wait four years for her first book to be published.

 In one rejection letter Rudyard Kipling was told he doesn't know how to use the English language.

Max Raffler  loved to paint since his childhood, but his older sisters wouldn’t allow him to pursue formal art training and burned many of his paintings. Nowadays he is one of Germany's best-known naive painters. His watercolors are in many collections all over the world. What if he had become so depressed when his sisters started burning his work that he stopped to paint?

Rejection can destroy an artist…but only if he or she allows it.

“Everyone has rejections and the people who win in the end, are the ones who do not give up.”                                                 Eric Kim


10 ways to embrace rejection:

1. Step away from your work.
 Learn to separate the art from the artist.
When you finish your work, think of it as being no longer yours. Being rejected, try to make your work better.

“Good, better, best - never let it rest - till your good is better - and your better best.”                                                                             John Furphy

2. Keep rejection in context.
 It is important to remember that if your work is rejected it doesn’t mean that you are a bad person or you are not intelligent.

3. Learn from rejection.
When you have been rejected search for ways that you can improve for the next time. Rejection is a part of the process.
Maybe you could undertake further study to gain additional experience.
Or maybe more preparation for an assignment would help you in the future.

“Rejection can be a good thing if it leads to change and improvement.”                                                                                        Eric Kim

4. Turn rejection into a positive experience.
See rejections as valuable lessons to mindfulness and reflection.

Try to stay positive and always remember that,

“A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success”.                                                                                  Bo Bennett

5. Don’t let rejection define you.
If someone rejects your photographs, it doesn’t mean that you are a bad photographer.

6. Live by the motto: “‘No’ means ‘no’ for now.” 
‘No’ will turn into ‘yes’ when the timing is right.
Prefer getting rejected rather than never trying.

7. Just keep working.
Keep on creating and keep submitting your work.
 See the photographer’s life as a marathon instead of a race.

“This is a long and winding road, filled with far more valleys than peaks. To love doing this so much that you’ll go through 1000 “no’s” just to hear the one ‘yes.'”                                                                                                     Joe McNally

8. Make rejection less personal.
When your creative work is rejected, it really feels like someone is rejecting you as an artist. But it’s not true.

 “You get used to the rejection and you don't take it personally”.                                                                          Daniel Craig

9. Realize that you need to find your own people.
It’s unrealistic to assume that we are able to inspire everyone. Just focus on the people who understand your message.

10. Focus on the positives.
When you get a ‘no’, just don’t forget about your ‘yeses’. Be grateful for all your big and small victories.
Also keep in mind that there’s a difference between a critique and rejection.
In a critique people often want to give advice and let you know their opinion.
Think about what you could take away from the critique.


When I face rejection I read this quote most often:
“Remember this:  Constant acceptance breeds complacency and mediocrity.  Rejection breeds determination and ultimate success…  Rejection helps to keep us humble… and it’s extremely good for the soul.”                                                              Robert Wade



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