To the disheartened photographer

Tough love. Where do you stand on it?

I believe it works.

I would never be where I am today if it wasn’t for the tough love I received when I first started joining photography forums almost 10 years ago. The first one I signed up to left me feeling so uplifted, encouraged and supported, I felt like the best photographer in the world (with my 6 months experience) but I didn’t learn anything and I didn’t improve. It was a shock to the system when I started sharing my work on a forum called ILP ( and was told nicely but firmly that my white balance was off, I was over-editing and cropping in all the wrong ways. I felt like crying more than once, but it pushed me. I was learning and improving. Quickly.

So I am a big fan of tough love. That being said, I know it hurts. There has been a lot of harshly delivered advice floating around on social media this last month. And though I love it and feel the messages are valid I’m thinking there might be a few sensitive souls who could do with a little gentle love to balance things out. So this message is for you. The photographer who feels a little deflated and disheartened and hurt and who is wondering how to ever get ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ is. The creative introvert who takes it all too personally and analyses it and worries and feels embarrassed because the critique has hit them right in a sore spot and they know they are guilty of doing “it” wrong.

This is for you:

1: Firstly (((hug))) – that’s it, just one BIG hug! I’ve needed more hugs than I could possibly count to get me through my own personal ‘tough love’ moments over the years.

2: Remember the saying “when you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” Take a moment to consider whether you learnt something. Is there truth in what is being said? If there is and you feel guilty of doing something the experts are criticising then just decide there and then to change your approach. Don’t beat yourself up. Failing is a huge part of the learning process.

3. Don’t identify with your mistakes. Recognise the difference between “I did something wrong” and “I am wrong.” We all make mistakes it doesn’t change the fact that you are creative, capable, talented, smart and unique in so many wonderful ways.

4. Accept that you are imperfect, we all are. Even the experts who give the advice are guilty of making the same mistakes sometimes, if not now then in the past.

5. Look for the intent. If the intent is to guide you then try to welcome the message even if the words themselves are hard to hear.

6. Truth leads to transformation. Don’t let your hurt or defensiveness or sensitivity drown out the truth that is being spoken.

7. Take baby steps. Don’t put any pressure on yourself to make dramatic changes from one day to the next, just store the information at the back of your mind and allow it to sit there as a gentle reminder for the future.

8. Be KIND to yourself. Stay aware of your inner dialogue and be conscious of the things you are telling yourself. Change “I always get things wrong” to “I try my best and that is good enough. I am enough.”

I am so grateful for the tough love I have received over the years. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I welcome it now and for the rest of my life as I continue to learn and grow. But it hurts a little bit, so I just wanted to say “I get that it hurts” and “you’re still a wonderful, creative being. Please continue to put yourself out there in every way. Make mistakes. Learn. Move on.”


Minna is based in Brisbane and offers workshops and mentoring in Moment Design (techniques to bring out connection and genuine interaction during photo-sessions). For more information go to

AmyFebruary 9, 2016 - 4:42 am

YES! I completely relate to this. I used to hate it when people would “criticise” my work. Now I embrace constructive critiques from people who are better than me. By taking on board those comments my work gets better!

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