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10 Positive Ways to Handle Rejection as a Photographer

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If you can’t handle rejection, you will never make it as a creative professional. It’s as simple as that. Rejection is part and parcel of a career in photography, so here are 10 healthy, positive ways to deal with rejection as a photographer.

These tips come from our friend JP Morgan of The Slanted Lens, and their focus is on changing your perspective so you can stop looking at rejection as a personal indictment of your skill and abilities, and start seeing it as a positive opportunity to grow as a photographer and photography business owner.

Each tip, from 1 to 10, builds on the last. JP elaborates on each one in the video up top, but here’s the list for you TL;DW folks:

  1. It’s okay to lose – Participation trophies might be a thing in little league, but that’s just not the case with real life.
  2. Don’t become emotional – Try your best to keep your emotions in check when you receive the bad news, otherwise you could follow up that rejection with feeling foolish for unloading on the wrong person.
  3. It’s not always about your work – There are many reasons why someone might choose to go another way. Don’t just assume it’s your work they’re rejecting.
  4. You are not right for every client – There’s no shame in admitting that, for this particular client, a different photographer’s style, personal taste, or approach was a better fit.
  5. Don’t speculate, look at your process – When you get rejected, look back at your process and ask yourself, “did I do everything I know I need to do to secure a client like this.” It’s more useful than speculating about why they didn’t “like” you or how you’re “terrible.”
  6. Ask for honest feedback from the client – Once the dust settles and the sting is gone, seek feedback. It could help you find the next evolution of your style. However…
  7. Make calculated adjustments – Don’t turn your business upside down to accommodate every piece of feedback you get. Take your time, collect lots of feedback, and then make calculated adjustments.
  8. Send a thank you card to the client – It never hurts to be the class act who thanks someone for the opportunity, even if they picked someone else.
  9. Let losing make you work harder – Turn rejection into motivation to get better, hone your process, and do more outreach.
  10. Remember that losing gets you closer to winning – If it takes you, on average, 10 opportunities to score one client, every rejection is just one of those other 9. On some level, it’s just a numbers game.

Rejection is unavoidable in any “freelance” career where you’re going out and trying to get clients, but it doesn’t have to be the reason you up and quit. Use these tips to reframe rejection as a positive player in your personal and professional growth.

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