Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Photography & The Pain of Public Criticism

Ever since I was about 12 years old I have loved photography.  I had a couple $5-$10 cameras between 12 and 17 and I loved them even though they took terrible pictures.  When I was 17 I finally saved up enough money to buy an *awesome* 35mm camera.  It was (and still is) a great camera. It was at the time digital photography was taking off though.  I did as much photography as I could afford with the 35mm, then at 19 I was given a used digital camera! It wasn't the greatest but it was still exciting to enter the digital world! I loved it!

Once I entered college I began taking several classes in photo editing (Photoshop classes) and graphic design, and I dabbled in photography basics a little, but it wasn't until 2007 when we bought our Nikon D40 that I really decided to study photography.

Nikon D40 6.1MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor LensI decided it would be good for me to get some solid education on the subject so I enrolled in an at-home study program and after 2 years I earned a Diploma in Photography.

Over the past 4 years I have been studying, learning, and practicing. I have taken tens of thousands of photos. I've done several practice sessions - Engagements, High School Seniors, and I've been asked to be a second photographer at a couple weddings.  I have had at least 100 people compliment my photography and most of them have gone on to tell me I should start a business.

I always thought I'd like to start a business someday but wasn't sure when. I knew that I needed to feel confident enough with my photos to do it.  I needed my photos to be of a certain quality before I felt comfortable enough to charge people for them.  I know there are thousands of others that just start and they learn as they go, but I'm not a "learn as you go" kind of person.  I am a person that needs to be confident in my knowledge on a subject *before* I go out and work for pay.  This is why you go to school, so you can learn enough about a subject to be able to go out and do it and be successful at it. I wanted to make sure that I was well prepared to go out and start charging people for my photos.
Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR

Recently I was blessed with enough money to finally be able to purchase this beautiful lens!  After making this purchase, I did a couple photo shoots (one of them paid) and through this I felt confident enough with my photos to go out and try and get some good experience, and to begin charging for my time, my work, and for my photos.  I decided that since I am new at charging money for my photos I would just do a basic minimum charge of $50 for the session and give a photo CD with the images to the customers.   I re-named my photography to Shaina Photography, created a new logo/watermark, I began looking into getting a business license and looking for a good design for a new website, and I created a new facebook page for my photography.

So here we go, I finally step out and take the very first baby steps into a photography business (just as MILLIONS of others have done before me) and do you know what happens?

TWO days later a pathetic anonymous local photographer (and former reader of Shaina's Deals) decides to write a full blown ESSAY on how terrible, shameful, and disgraceful my photography is.

Seriously.  TWO days later!!

It was a long drawn out post of every reason why my photography gives photographers all over the city a bad rep.  They said my photography was crap and I should not be charging even $50 for it.  Out of all that was said in the post, that was the nicest thing.  It was truly unbelieveable.

Thankfully, it was just posted on Craigslist and we were able to get rid of it easily by flagging it as spam, but honestly the words that were said in that post hurt me probably more than anything has ever hurt me (short of my Mom passing away of course).

I cried for hours.  I haven't done that in years.  It was like everything I've worked so hard at for the past 4 years was belittled to nothing but "crap."

My heart, my ambition, and all of my motivation to continue in photography was crushed.  Seriously, my dream of someday being GOOD at this was absolutely squashed.

I have had a lot of friends and family encourage me to keep going today and I've been told to not take it personally, but honestly it was such a personal attack that I don't really know how to just brush it off.  The worst part was that the things that were said were absolute lies and the person knew absolutely nothing about what they were talking about.  But since it was a public display, other people were reading it and getting a horrible first  impression of me.

They made claims and accusations in this post that no photographer (I don't care WHO you are or how successful you may be) should *ever* say to another photographer.   Even if I was the most successful photographer in the world, I would never in a million years say the things this person said.

It was that hurtful.

I know I am not going to give up.  Every artist first begins as an amateur. But right now I definitely feel like I've been shot down. I'm hurt and it is really *really* difficult to get back up.

I have some sessions coming up soon - the first is on Sunday morning before church. I just hope I can gather up enough strength to get through this week and do a fantastic job on the session on Sunday.

Have any of you experienced something like this?  How on earth can you choose to ignore such a personal attack?


  1. Know where your worth comes from...is it from what others say about you? Is it from your husband? From your daughter? NO!! It is from God alone. You are a beautiful woman of God! You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139.14) You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. (Phil. 4.13) I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16.33) Yes, it hurts, yes, it's hard, but "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8.37)

  2. (and...I think you take really great pictures)

  3. It's amazing the sort of things that will come out of a persons mouth and heart in their attempts to sound "smart". I have a lot of photographer friends with their own business's, you're younger than all of them, better than a solid half of them and just getting started.


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