Loving Our Selfies – Bouncing Back After Disappointment

I checked the blog. Again. And again. And again. And again. Finally, the results were up. As I opened the post sitting in my car in my brother’s driveway with a 2-year-old calling “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” in the backseat, my heart bounced around in my chest like that same toddler after eating a pile of Halloween candy. As I scoured the list of names under each category, my heart grew heavier and heavier as I noticed category after category, my name was absent.

This is a scenario many of us experienced last week after Senior Style Guide’s Hot 100 Images came out. I’m not one to post things that are too personal on my Facebook page but I felt the need to last week. I knew many of my friends in the photography community empathized. My post said, “Allow me to wallow in overwhelming disappointment for today. Tomorrow morning, I will wake up, dust myself off, and continue to work on becoming the best mommy, wife and photographer I can be. BOOM.” Within seconds, the response to my post boosted my downtrodden self-esteem. Honestly, I didn’t post it for searching for compliments, I wanted, no, needed to air my devastation and let my other photog friends knew I had their backs because there were 4,100 entries NOT on that list. Although I wasn’t fishing for compliments, I sure got them, and I’m not going to lie to you folks, it was encouraging to hear what people had to say.

After discussing my feelings with two amazing friends (love you Michelle of Michelle Perry Photography and Tracy of Tracy Anne Photography!) and receiving great advice, I realized yes, accolades are fantastic (I can NOT lie to you, I’m a pretty open book and I enjoy attention for the most part! And OOOOH BOOOY am I ever competitive) but our business isn’t all about the awards and “winning” (right, Charlie Sheen?). It’s about becoming part of clients’ lives in a way I never thought I really would as “just” a photographer. I received a text message from a client’s mom after my post, she just wanted to check on me and make sure I was ok and tell me that I’ve had a positive impact on her and her daughter’s lives. My heart found it’s way back to my chest after that texting convo.

Our careers are also about doing what makes us happy. After speaking with Michelle, she made me think about how caught up I’ve become in wanting to “win” things to garner recognition. As I mentioned in my last column about Pinterest, I’ve looked at so many other people’s work, I feel I lost myself a little bit in the midst of wanting to be the best. I had a shoot this past Sunday and I didn’t get on anything or look at one gosh diddly darn thing on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram for inspiration. I just did me. And I’m in LOOOOOOVE with the results of the shoot. It helps I adore the girl and her mother, but I wanted to rediscover my creativity, my talent, and my perspective, and you know what? I felt success. I felt reinvigoration. I felt like me behind the camera, not me wanting to be someone else.

(I would post photos of this shoot you may not have seen already, but the gorgeous Melissa won’t see them until next Monday so I need to resist the urge to post all of them!)

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Ok, Ok, with all this said, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to enter contests. Sheesh, I already posted one up for this week’s Senior Stunner on SSG and I’m deciding on one for both The Twelfth Year and Seniorolgie’s Weekly Faves, BUUUUUUT, I’m not going to base my success on whether my images are chosen or not. And you can bet your booty I’m still going to enter the Hot 100 next year. I just can’t let that determine my happiness and worth as a photographer.

How amazing are our jobs you guys and gals? We get to be there for big moments in peoples’ lives. To raise their self-esteem when it’s down; to encourage and empower young women and men as they grow from children into adults; to give a lasting impression from a fleeting moment of time. And of course, had my name made it on the Hot 100 list, today’s column would probably have gone another way, but I’m hoping this helps those of you, like me, who are passionate about your photography but didn’t make this years list to remember it’s not all about “winning”. Often not winning makes us stronger, more determined, and more focused. Or a sore loser, but don’t be that, that’s just not cool.

As I said in my Facebook post, I wallowed, but now I’ve brushed myself off, picked myself up and am kicking A**. Go out there and do the same, Tigers!

P.S. CONGRATS to all the Hot 100 winners, the talent on that list is astounding!