First Rejection: Photo Contest


A mini-photoshoot with my mini-girl:) We both love capturing beauty and Seattle.

I entered my first photo contest last month, and I was rejected. The photograph is splendid enough that I know I would love it hanging on my wall in my home. And, perhaps someone else will fall in love with it at my next show (no dates set yet).

I’m not as upset as I’d expected I would be by this. I guess it’s because I know it’s not personal. Not everyone will love my work. And that’s okay. My goal with photography is not to make everyone happy. I capture what looks beautiful to me, and hope that it can bring a smile or sense of joy to others.

In other news, I’ve sold more prints! And, I got an unsolicited compliment on my photography from someone I admire. I think that’s better than winning a contest any day:)

Coming soon: I’m working to set up an Esty shop just for – I’d love to sell more prints and get my work out there. I chose Etsy because it is a marketplace of millions. After looking at my stats on this site, and the stats to visits in my “crafty” Etsy store, I can see I need that kind of exposure. There are some sleek services to sell your prints directly on your site (they take care of the printing and shipping even). But, for now, I need a bigger marketplace than this blog:)


About Holli

A "cooking from scratch" geek, Mom, Wife, Seattle Native, Photographer and serial volunteer.
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8 Responses to First Rejection: Photo Contest

  1. kaarisa says:

    Great attitude and good idea to get yourself out there on Etsy.

  2. Scott M. says:

    I’ve been a little upset all afternoon. I entered my first amateur photography competition and got rejected. So I googled “I got rejected by a photography contest”…and your website came up!! Reading your above entry made me feel so much better. Your words “My goal with photography is not to make everyone happy. I capture what looks beautiful to me, and hope that it can bring a smile or sense of joy to others” made me feel so much better!! Thank you. I’m going to take some time and check out your pics. On a side note…I live in Atlanta…but I’m a Seattle native! I briefly saw something about you getting published in a Port Angeles newspaper…one of the shots I entered (that got rejected!!) was taken in Port Townsend 🙂

    • Holli says:

      Hi Scott,

      It does hurt to be rejected in any form. I’m sorry it’s bummed you out all afternoon (I think I licked my wound for a full day before seeing the positive side to it). Anyway, I am glad my experience could help!

      My limited experience is that I’ve had more success doing little coffee shop shows than submitting to art contests (all of 2). I don’t’ know if it’s a Seattle thing or just my tenacity, but everywhere I’ve inquired, I have been put on the calendar to do a show (Coffee Shop, Massage Studio and Art Fair). So, keep trying and trying and you’ll find your audience of fans:)

      Best of luck, Holli

  3. Greg says:

    I just entered my first ever photo competition and entered what I consider to be the best photo I have ever taken. Others had described the shot as “compelling” and whatever. But apparently not good enough. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt quite a bit, actually a lot more than I thought it would. Plus I’m out $15 for the entry fee. And that alone makes me upset. I mean I am paying to be told I suck or didn’t make the cut. That’s absurd.

    Honestly, this has changed the way I think about things. I am just going to pursue what I want because it makes me happy and I enjoy it. Forget all these competitions. What’s the point? Other than to get some kind of validation from people who may or may not be even qualified to judge your work. The goal of art is to create an emotional experience for people. If you can do that for even one person, then you’ve succeeded. But in the end, it it yourself you have to please. If you think it is a great photo and it brings you joy, then you’ve succeeded. It is nice to have validation, but forget these competitions. They are meaningless, unless of course, you win, and then use that to hype your own work.

    But look at it this way.

    Alfred Hitchcock, one of the undisputed greatest filmmakers of all time, never won an Academy Award. Does that mean his work is subpar to Fellini, who won five? Not at all.

    Do what gives you joy, and that’s it.

    And as for me, obviously, competitions don’t bring me any joy, in fact, just the opposite.

    • Holli says:

      Hey Greg,
      I totally agree with you. Awards and competitions are for the ego. We create for ourselves. I didn’t really have that down until I read “The War of Art” by Steve Pressfield.
      I didn’t know about Alfred Hitchock not winning any oscars. His work is truly ground-breaking, and at this point in time, I never judge a film by the awards it has won.
      Do the work because you love it! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.
      Best, Holli
      p.s. Your work is stunning.

      • Greg says:

        After a couple of days, I am slowly coming out of it, and in some ways, I am challenging myself to really push myself creatively, so in a strange way, it was a painful positive. I had to remind myself that I got into photography because I enjoyed it, not because I was trying to win something or impress somebody else. The last thing I want to turn this into is a competition of egos.

        I appreciate your blog and your work as well.

      • Holli says:

        Good for you, Greg!

        One thing I’ve done in the past year is to sell the work I love, and you know what? The prints that sell the most are the ones I love, not the traditional ones I expected…I’m not getting rich, mind you, but it does help to know that your work resonates with people.

        Best, Holli

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