The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Leave Your Ego at the Door

As many of you know -- I routinely enter juried photography contest/competitions/shows.  I enjoy the competition.  Also, you know I direct Nature Undisturbed.  Yesterday I received the results from our 2012 juror, Brett Abbott.  After I received the results -- I spent a good part of my day reviewing, creating files, and composing the formal list and email to the entrants.

This is a tough thing.  Many people I know may not be in the show.  I am always happy to see friends selected -- but there are some who are not and, well...that is just the way it is.  No one is in every show that they enter -- there are times that you just don't make it in.

This morning I received an email from an entrant -- subject line: Exhibition Rejection.  Immediately I thought -- uh oh.  It was from someone who had never entered before this year.  When I opened the email I was greeted by, "Thanks for letting me know about the rejection.  I won't be entering in the future."

So then I thought -- I have not blogged in a while -- and this is a great topic.

What do I think is the best thing to take away from entering juried shows?  I think the best thing is to learn how to handle rejection.  As an artist you will experience it at some time -- and some time again.  How you handle it may influence how often you will revisit it.  No one likes to get that letter/email that essentially says, thanks for playing, come to the reception and see what beat you out to hang on the wall.  OK -- it doesn't really say that.  And for a long time I did not get the rejection letter.  Boy, when I got one -- it was a wake up.

You need to stop, think, perhaps reevaluate.  I do know of photos out there -- and my most well-known image -- the serendipitous snake -- is a great example.  That photo has not been accepted in every show it was entered.  It has received rejections.  In that case, I understood it was a strong image -- but maybe not everyone agrees or it does not fit in every show.  The same photo has taken first place in other exhibits and is part of a permanent collection.  Shows can only accommodate so many photos -- and great shots don't make it in.  

I suppose if you can only accept positive critique or feedback -- you need to just show your photos to your mother.  But if you would like to improve, network, get things out there -- enter a juried show, sign up for a portfolio review, submit images to galleries and magazines.  

1 comment:

John N. Wall/Photographer said...

The best advice I've ever had about juried shows was, tell yourself in advance that you are doing it for the rejection slip, that you are making a collection of rejection slips and you want more of them.
That way, when you get rejected (and the person giving this advice said you will get rejected, that a 20% acceptance rate is a sign of success), you will say to yourself you got what you wanted, you will not be discouraged, and you will enter more shows because that way you will get more of what you really want, which is the rejection slips.
As a result, you create for yourself more opportunities to have work accepted, which will improve your odds.
I will say that as I have collected rejection slips, I have come to recognize the rhetoric of rejection. Any response about a show, for example, that begins, "We had a lot of entries for this show" will not end happily.

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