In high school, I took a couple of photography classes. I wasn't any good. Not at all actually. I took a film class my senior year of high school. Every assignment started with our teacher explaining the project and then showing us examples of black & white images for inspiration. These images were always from famous photographers such as Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz, Jerry Uelsmann, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Dorthea Lange, and countless others. What do all of these photographers have in common? Not only are they all obviously taken in B&W images but these photographers all shot subjects that were rather dark, unusual, or odd. This was supposed to be my inspiration? I was supposed to take photographs like that? With what little spare time I had after school, I was supposed to find a way to take some creepy photos of my friends/family?
Others excelled in this class with their dark images, but not me.
So I wasn't even considered creative.
I took pictures of flowers, walking paths, playgrounds. I stayed abstract. I studied rule of thirds and I worked on my composition.
This was not considered creative, (although I finished my film class with an A.)
One day, I walked in the computer room, which was a small room off to the side of the film class room. There sat four classmates I knew fairly well. These kids were sitting side by side working on their projects for an advanced photography class. I thought to myself, if only I had known to start photography classes my junior year and worked my way up to this advanced photography class...then I would be sitting side by side with them right now. These kids were considered the "out of the box" type of photography thinkers. They took pictures that inspired everyone that stepped into that photography class.
They were worshipped by my teachers. They were admired by my fellow classmates. They were envied by me.
I could never take pictures like them (not that I would ever want to take dark, scary images)....They just had the imagination and talent to do so.
At the beginning of the year, it was announced that our schools magazine was now accepting images, short stories and poems so that at the end of the year, some of those submissions would be printed and published work in the book for the whole school to see. Our school had 4,000 kids, so this was a big deal to have something published into the magazine. I began looking through my portfolio to see if there was anything magazine worthy.
I narrowed it down to 10 images. I thought, if I could submit 10 images, they might like at least one of them. I submitted them, and patiently waited 2 months to hear back.
Can you guess who it was in charge of selecting the images to be published in the magazine? The students that were in the advanced photography course. I felt embarrassed once I found out. My pictures were of flowers, not scary clowns. I will never get published. Anyone can take pictures of flowers....But I still held on the hope that someone in that class would like it. Maybe it was different? Maybe it stood out?
It stood out all right.
The same day I walked into the small computer room, was the day I heard those students critiquing the work that everyone submitted for the magazine. I heard them talk about a couple of pictures. The room was dark, so they didn't notice I was in there. They were all mesmerized by the pictures inside the folder of artwork. Click after click on the computer, they talked about each one.
And then my ten images started coming up. It all seemed to be happening in slow motion, time just dragged on. I remember the hurtful comments. I remember the snickering. I remember feeling ashamed. Then I heard a shush. Someone realized I was in the room as well.
I pretended not to noticed. I tried to act as if I hadn't heard them at all. But I had.
My images did not make it into the magazine for the high school. Tragic, I know. But I think I learned a valuable lesson from this. I learned that there are going to be people out there that will criticize, that will tear you down, that will say harsh things to bring you down.
I can't say that these students wanted to tear me down, because they didn't know I was there. They weren't bullying me because it wasn't to my face. I had only listened to them. I tried to not take anything they said personally. At the time I did.
I am glad I heard what they said because at that moment I realized I had to get better, and try harder.
So the summer after high school I started taking pictures of my friends and family. People started believing in my abilities. They saw my work and enjoyed my images. The more I practiced the more I saw how creative I could be.
If I had listened to the classmates in the advanced photography course, I would've given up right then and there, because thats what they wanted. "Why would someone even submit this?" "Does she really think this is the material that gets accepted?", "She should just give up trying".
Yeah, it was cruel. But I'm glad I didn't listen.
I worked hard because I had the most wonderful, caring family and friends supporting me. Encouragement can be the most powerful tool when starting your own photography business. Putting yourself out there and showing people your artwork is scary. But doubting and questioning yourself, will only set YOU back.
Abigail Joyce is a newborn photographer that travels to clients homes in the Chicagoland area and beyond. Abigail brings her props, backdrops, hats, headbands, crates, baskets, blankets and more to your session. Abigail customizes the session to your unique specifications and provides the care and safety that each newborn needs during this beautiful first week of life. Abigail takes her time posing the newborns with gentle hands and patience. Make sure you contact Abigail at least a month before your due date to ensure a newborn session with Abigail Joyce Photography!
Chicagoland Newborn & Baby Photographer | Newborn Photography | Chicago Maternity Photographer | Chicagoland Maternity Photographer | Chicago Family Photographer | Chicagoland Family Photographer
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Abigail Joyce specializes in newborn, baby and family photographs. Abigail Joyce is based in the Chicagoland area and the Midwest.
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