This week I wanted to blog about several different things; our friends purchasing the new BMW i3, event related photography, and even the pet photography workshop on 9/20. Instead, though, I'm going to blog about emotions, it's been a very emotional week!! I'm also going to talk about reviews, and just being a decent human being. So lets get started.
I taught a Pet Photography workshop yesterday at Nichols Photo Lab as part of a joint collaboration with the Intermountain Professional Photographers Assc. We were all celebrating Nichols' 35th business anniversary.
In my slideshow I had a few slides that represented my portfolio, one of which was families. As I came to this slide, I purposefully emphasized the work that I do with Columbus Community Center and Help-Portrait. In short, Columbus puts developmentally disabled adults to work and Help-Portrait is a non-profit that provides free family portraits to those in need over the holiday season.
Little did I know that, subconsciously, it would hit me so hard as I started explaining that work that I do for both of these organizations. There I stood, up in front of dozens and dozens of people, as it hit home when I said...my dad and sister were both impacted with traumatic brain injuries that rendered them disabled, and their eventual deaths. I started choking up, I was so incredibly surprised and had to take a few seconds. You see, I recently (Feb 2014) lost my dad and perhaps I haven't fully yet dealt with the emotions of that loss, as I've had Power of Attorney for both over the last five plus years.
It was the local print competition, back in Feb, that I was at when my wife stuck her head behind the curtain and motioned for me to come over. I was so surprised to see her! Print Competitions are SO quiet, like library quiet. She whispered in my ear, "you're dad just died". What? For a second I thought I heard something else but I knew I heard her right. I grabbed my stuff and we left very abruptly. From where the print competition was located, we were only 5 minutes from my Mom and Dad's place. I knew those were the only minutes I would get to grieve alone because once I showed up, I'd have to be "that" guy. The guy that deals with the cops, holds a grieving mother, coordinates all the arrangements, etc. Thankfully, I didn't have to do all of "that" stuff, much was handled by my wife as well.
I don't want to someone that masks their emotions just because I'm in front of an audience, it's real and it surprised me, and that's how I dealt with it.
Reviews and Emotions:
First I'll say this, I know that you won't make everyone happy...it's impossible, plain and simple. However, that doesn't mean I don't do my best for every person that is in front of my camera. This also doesn't mean that, as a human being, I don't feel emotions or the impact that words have.
I was shooting a couple, distinguished, beautiful, unique, and cheerful. The parameter of the shoot was nothing more than headshots, no studio, no expectations other than a white background, chest and maybe shoulders up shot...that's it. These weren't even for me, these were for an event. The woman was in front of the camera first, I went through a couple different poses with her then we went to the couple, another couple different poses. In all, MAYBE six shots...that's the time we had, that's IT!
As they were leaving they asked to see the pictures, I told them that these are for the event and not to have "high" expectations. We went through them, after a few brief seconds, she says, "I HATE THEM" and walked away saying..."absolutely disgusting". Let me deal with that for a moment. Huh...I'm not sure what just happened there, but, ok.
Dealing with negative feedback can be hard. As photographers we want (or at least I do) to make/help people look their best, no matter what we're doing. That's how I look at it. For the most part, I brushed it off and really chalked it up to the parameters in which we were given to work with by the event. But there's still a part of me that feels as though I failed that couple/woman. I'll move on.
Again, one person can't make everyone happy. They can make 99% of people happy but there's always one and that one can have a dramatic impact on your emotional well being, especially when the unhappy person is attacking you, personally...not even professionally. This is what happened to my wife via email. I'm posting excerpts from that email:
...You are an absolute disgrace
...You did nothing
...You spineless fraction of a human being
...You're rolling downhill quickly and it won't be long before you're in a retirement home
...Cockroaches have been around...and you mimic them so nicely
...Have a wonderful day, champion
No, that's not made up. This is real and my wife told me last night at dinner, while she was in tears. Now, assuming at some point that author reads this, well I suppose you got what you wanted, you hurt her...but not for long.
You see, my wife is one of those people, an entrepreneur, that I truly admire for not dwelling on things. It sounds so cliché but she really is fantastic, one of the best I've seen, that's able to absorb criticism, look at it objectively, and if there is fault on her part, she'd make it right, no questions asked. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. This hurts, emotionally because we're human beings and it doesn't make it right. When you criticize someone, whether it's looking at an image or otherwise, you don't make things personal, you don't need to beat someone down to make a point. Be a decent human being, perhaps that old saying is true..."if society could only see itself".
We both shed some tears, we're both real, we're both in this together, and we share our joys, and our pain...together, as a husband and wife, business partners and best friends. That's us.
Keywords: IPPA, Intermountain Professional Photographers, Nichols Photo Lab, chris dickinson photography, criticism, emotions, human beings, photography workshops
Your blog brought things into perspective for me, and for that, I am grateful.
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