A guest blog post by our friend Jacqueline Tobin, Editor-in-Chief of Rangefinder.
After making them “keep the secret” for almost two agonizing months, an esteemed group of very talented photographers were finally able to tell the world that they were chosen as one of Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography for 2016 (all of whom are full-time wedding photographers working for five years or less in the industry).
The responses we received from our humble winners after they were first notified were so genuine and thoughtful, including everything from “We can’t believe you’ve turned a year full of bad luck (and major self-doubt) into something so much more positive…” to “OMG WHAAAAT!? SERIOUSLY? We suspect it’s 29 winners and one ‘A for effort’…”
Then there were the 170 nominees who didn’t make the final cut but who were, nonetheless, equally as talented. They were also incredibly gracious and quite receptive to accepting feedback on their submission and overall style so they could hone their submission next time. A heartfelt thank you to every one of you who participated this year.
Image by Nick Tucker, a 30 Rising Star of 2016
After doing this for five years, I still receive emails asking, “Why them and not me?” or saying, “I’m gutted and no longer want to pursue my photography.” But when it comes to judging something as subjective as art, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly why your colleague or friend won and you didn’t. With the 30 Rising Stars competition, a panel of Rangefinder judges worked extremely long hours poring over and re-evaluating more than 200 photographers worldwide, and it was extremely difficult to narrow down to just 30.
It might sound common or clichéd, but if you can’t take a professional loss professionally, it could haunt you throughout your entire career. I personally know how hard “rejection” can be, but no one likes a sore loser, right?! What you as a photographer need to keep in mind when entering any prestigious competition to turn a loss into a win is:
Stay positive, win or lose. This can be a great way to test and solidify your professionalism! Rantings and ramblings via email or social media can be cathartic, until they are seen by an actual person. Words last forever in cyberspace and you can’t take them back once they’re out.
It really is an honor just to be nominated. It says that you are already on the industry’s radar. Like in the case of 30 Rising Stars, someone super important at Junebug Weddings or The Knot or Style Me Pretty or Rangefinder or Richard Photo Lab, etc., saw something in you and wants the rest of us to acknowledge it, helping the industry evolve.
Constructive critiques from judges of a competition are meant to nurture and help you grow, not crush or defeat you. Use them to your advantage!
Even if you don’t win, you can get on the radar of someone (a publication, a potential client, other vendors in the industry) who would otherwise never know you exist. Being able to work on future projects with them can make competitions very worthwhile.
Create positive relationships with the very people who had to “let you down gently.” Continue to stay on their radar with mailers, “just checking in” emails, updated project or book announcements and so on.
And remember, there’s always next year!
Image by Gian Carlo, a 30 Rising Star of 2016
Congratulations to this 2016’s 30 Rising Stars! We cherish each and every one of you and appreciate all the hard work and dedication you put into your submissions: