A story of how I screwed up big time and endured my first bitter taste of rejection.

Ah, rejection.

2016 was the year that I decided to start a business of my own. I knew that it would be the hardest thing I’d probably ever do in my life, but I could never have prepared myself for what was in store: rejection. Now, I didn’t have an entire year full of clients rejecting my work or being dissatisfied with the final product, but in a sea of happy clients, it’s REALLY easy to only see the ones that made you feel like you weren’t good enough.

Before I dive into this story, let me start by saying: I made a mistake. No matter how hard I tried to be absolutely perfect in my work, I messed up. At a shoot that was supposed to be at sundown, I started to realize that I was running out of light at an incredibly rapid rate. I cranked up the ISO on my camera. My nerves got the best of me on this particular photo shoot because of the rapidly dimming light and the pressure to get these photos in before the sun dipped down below the hills.  So, if you’re not a photographer, the simple way to explain the ISO setting on the camera is this: ISO controls the sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the lighter the image will be (a high ISO is used in a low-light situation, like the one that I was in).

Here’s the problem, with a high ISO, comes the risk of grain in the photo. Because I was basically a fumbling idiot during the entire photo session, I cranked the ISO up way too high. I had never had a low light situation like the one I was in, and I honestly thought my ISO would be my saving grace.

Boy was I wrong.

The photos looked like they had a layer of sand dusting the top of them. The setting sun let off some gorgeous light, but the grain made the faces in the photo incredibly grainy and less defined. This is obviously not ideal for a portrait session. Needless to say, the client was pissed. I tried to play it off as a broken lens, which honestly, I actually thought was a possibility. I had been using an old lens because another one had gotten stolen, but I later realized that it was my high ISO and my nerves that did me in. I made a mistake.

I apologized to the client and told her I would give her a shoot the next week completely for free and suggested that it be at an earlier time to ensure that there was zero risk of grain. I felt okay about this, ultimately mortified still, but better for doing what I thought was the right thing.

So, the day of the reshoot comes around and I get in touch with the client to set a time for her session (which is crazy to me now because I would NEVER set a time for a shoot the day of…oh, how far I’ve come), and she responds with “Actually, I’m good.” As in, she doesn’t want to do a reshoot with me. As in, my work is so atrocious that she doesn’t even want a FREE shoot with me.

I was crushed. I was so upset about it that I actually cried. To my mom. And I’m 27 years old. But do you know what I did after? I studied the absolute hell out of my camera settings, mastered ISO, hired a company to help with my booking and scheduling so I would never have a surprise cancellation again, and I started slowing down so I could make sure that I have my settings correct as my shoot is in progress. I discovered one of the best lessons that I’ve learned in my lifetime:

Rejection is actually a synonym for fuel. Rejection is what made me take action. No, I’m not where I want to be, but I am also not where I was. And that is success.

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