I thought I'd start this blog post off with a quick little story about 'rejection' and finding your vision. Less than four years ago I was living in London, just starting up my fashion photography career. I had really just started putting together fashion editorials, building my book and getting published in magazines. It was really just the beginning. I was energetic, passionate and eager to get my work out there. I was extremely excited when I convinced an editor of a beautiful magazine to have a brief meeting with me. I got there, portfolio in hand, eager to hear is advice and opinions. I was not quite prepared for what he has to say.
After quietly flipping through the pages of my portfolio, he shut the book, set it on his desk, and calmly told me to start again. START AGAIN. I had to blink about a dozen times in order to believe it was real. I had surrounded myself previously only with people and opinions that constantly gave me praise and encouragement. Family, classmates, professors, friends, and other local photographers... but this was a different sort of opinion, and unfortunately the opinion that potentially 'mattered'.
He explained that my work, while of excellent quality, was just too typical and too commercial. He explained to me that in the world of fashion photography, anyone can take beautiful images... but thats not what is important. More important than quality is concept, originality and style. He said that just about every image in my book was too 'commercial' and felt too "American" (which later I found out he meant that the work was too safe and didn't push any boundaries). Style is key. What can you do to stand out from the crowd and create a recognizable body of work? I'm very lucky that I didn't leave that meeting shattered. As I exited the office into a cold London fog, I became determined, and dug in to start again.
One of the hard things in photography is to know whose opinions to take seriously. If you ask enough people, you'll get markedly different opinions, so you have to be sure you ask someone whose work and opinion you admire, and who has your best interest at heart. Some people don't know what they are talking about, and other are just mean. I knew that this editor, however, was being purely matter-of-fact, and he has since seen and loved my work.
So the moral of this little story is that we ALL face rejection and criticism, but you should only use it to allow yourself to grow. You need to go out and seek critique and advice in order to improve, but be wary of where you seek your advice. Don't just seek positive reinforcement all the time.
No matter how successful you are, you will still face rejection. Its just part of the game. Its like falling in love. A man might be smart, handsome and sweet but that doesn't mean you fall in love with them because it isn't the right fit. Its the same thing with your work. It might be great quality, creative, original, but it might not fit a particular client. Not everyone will love your work, but that doesn't mean its not fantastic. And also, just because your mom and family loves your work doesn't meant it doesn't need improvement!
And so while we are talking about love... Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you can spend it with someone you love, whether friend, family or partner!
The image I shared above in this post was a 'fashion flair' engagement session with a beautiful bride and groom, where we told the story of little red riding hood! I had so much fun creating this dramatic scene.
Next I'd like to share my schedule for WPPI. WPPI is one of my FAVORITE conferences of the year. I love the people... everyone is energetic and passionate about starting or growing their careers. Its a great event with lots of parties, great learning opportunities and just truly great people. I'd say that last year at WPPI is where my photo teaching career really started to take off. I started to really build my name and establish myself in the industry... and so I cannot WAIT for this year!
If you are coming to WPPI, I'd LOVE if you come to one of my classes and said hi!!! Its not too late to sign up!
Friday February 17th:
11:30am-12:30pm: WPPI University Sponsored by Millers and Sigma: "In Search of Inspiration": In this presentation I will be sharing a variety of tips on how to breathe creativity into your work! We will discuss where I get my ideas, the importance of personal projects, and how to stay inspired. I will share behind the scenes information on my favorite shoots, how they came about, and how they were executed. Get ready to come away with the passion to push your creative boundaries!
Sunday February 19th:
3PM-5PM: WPPI Platform Sponsored by Adobe: "Creative Retouching Techniques": In this class I will share my favorite techniques for making an image more creative in photoshop. To me, Photoshop is just another tool of photography to help you create your vision. I will show you how to add textures, create a 3D effect, how to make porcelain skin, creative composites and more!
Monday February 20th:
11:30-12:15: Sigma Booth: Fashion Photography and the Creative Eye
1:30-2:15: Sigma Booth: Location Fashion & Portraiture: Light & Lens
Tuesday February 21st:
10:30-11:15: Sigma Booth: Location Fashion & Portraiture: Light & Lens
11:30AM-12:15PM: Millers Professional Imaging Booth: "Top Ten Best Practices for Social Networking": No one wants to waste their time online social networking... so don't waste time! In this presentation I will cover how to use social networking to efficiently and effectively grow your business. These concepts apply to all types of photography across all social media platforms!
12:30-1:15: Sigma Booth: Fashion Photography and the Creative Eye
2:30-3:15: Sigma Booth: Location Fashion & Portraiture: Light & Lens
8AM-10AM: WPPI Platform: Sponsored by Millers and Sigma: "Fashion Flair for Portrait and Wedding Photography": You want your work to be original and stand out from the crowd. In this presentation I will teach you how to take the concepts of fashion photography and apply them to your own portrait and wedding work. Concepts include: lighting, story-telling, props, posing, locations and more. Your images with grab attention and allow you to target a higher-end clientele. You should come away from this class with excitement to go push yourself creatively!
10:30-11:15 (Subject to change): Sigma Booth: Location Fashion & Portraiture: Light & Lens
12:30-1:15: Fashion Photography and the Creative Eye