Ep 101. Dealing with Rejection as a Photographer

I'm Ashley!

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It can feel really personal sometimes when someone doesn’t want to work with us.

Let’s get real. It can feel really frustrating dealing with rejection as a photographer.

I really want to shed some light on this topic that I don’t think many people are talking about. I think when we face rejection, we tend to brush our true feelings under the rug and just grit our teeth and bear it. Fake that we’re fine, when we’re really crumbling inside.

So here’s what I would love for you to answer for me:

On a scale from one to five, how hard is it for you to handle rejection as a photographer?

Number one on the scale is going to be “it leaves me feeling distraught for a while.” It really kind of wrecks you, messes you up. And then all the way to five would be it doesn’t faze you at all. Head on over to Instagram and find me  @thepurposegathering and answer the question so we can start a conversation!

Now, I want you to be really honest about this answer. Because I feel like a lot of times we pretend that we are further along than we really are. We pretend that we are better than we are actually feeling. So I hope that you are ready to get vulnerable with me. Let’s dive deep into this topic of what it feels like to deal with rejection.

Reframe Rejection

The point that I want to make right off the get go is that we first need to learn how to reframe rejection. I think the word rejection is painful. Just hearing that word, to reject something or someone, is so dramatic in my opinion. As a business owner for over a decade, I can totally relate to that feeling of rejection. Over the years, I’ve sort of evolved from feeling rejected to just understanding that it was just a simple no.

I want to reframe this rejection, and give you a different perspective on what it is. When someone chooses not to work with you, they’re not rejecting you.

They’re not saying no to you, they’re saying no to your service.

They’re saying no to your prices, they’re saying no to your style.

I want you to just think about that first.

It’s not personal, it’s just business.

I know how hard it can hurt. I especially know how hard it can hurt when it’s someone that you thought was the perfect fit. That ideal client that you have been waiting for. Just remember that they’re not saying no to you, they’re saying no to the service.

There’s been many occasions when friends of mine have inquired, and then they’ve told me no. It can feel very personal because we’re friends. I too was a one on the scale many years ago. I just remember feeling like, “Gosh! Why does this bother me so much? I shouldn’t even be mad,” and I would just brush my feelings under the rug and pretend like I wasn’t upset. But then that would just pile on and pile on. Then the next time that I got this rejection, it felt even worse because I hadn’t dealt with that first no.

If you constantly are brushing it under the rug and you’re like, “it’s no big deal”, it’s going to pile up to the point where you have an explosion of emotions. Maybe one day, you just start crying your eyes out, and you can’t figure out why you’re so upset, and it’s because you never dealt with the previous no’s.

Sit in the Hurt

When you hear a no, it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be frustrated and to question yourself. All of those feelings are valid, and they’re normal and it’s so important that you deal with those. Again, as I mentioned, if you don’t deal with the first no, the second no feels harder and the third no feels awful and it just keeps compounding. So sit in the hurt, and understand that it’s okay to feel hurt. It’s actually normal and healthy for you to feel some sort of hurt.

I think it’s also important that you share your struggle with a trusted friend. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in my own hurt and I’ve never told anyone about it. I’ve tried to deal with it on my own and it just gets worse. I’m telling you, for me, years of experience of not dealing with this, it really hurts.

Being honest, not feeling shameful or embarrassed to share with a trusted friend like gosh! I just got another no and it feels so bad.

Have this dialogue with your friend about how you’re feeling. If you like to journal or even if you don’t like to journal, journaling helps draw out what else is going on. I love writing down my thoughts and my feelings because when I journal, sometimes things come out of my brain that I didn’t even know were there. It’s important to not pretend that the no doesn’t bother you.

  • Get it out
  • Write it out on a piece of paper
  • Cry about it

Remember, tears and crying, they’re not a sign of weakness, they’re a sign of strength. I think so often we’ve been taught to hide our emotions. I can’t tell you how many women I’m in the presence of who cry and then apologize for crying. I often ask why do we feel like we have to apologize for showing our true emotions.

So many women are afraid to show their true emotions.

They don’t want to be judged. They don’t want to feel weak.

But again, when you are able to open up and when you are able to be honest about how you truly feel, that’s when true healing happens. So I’m not going to apologize for crying and I encourage you to do the same. Open up your heart, be vulnerable with the people around you, and don’t let the enemy make you feel worthless.

Use the No as Fuel

So now that we have reframed the rejection, and we’ve allowed ourselves to sit in the hurt. Next, I want you to use the no as fuel. I don’t want you to stay sad forever and to stay jaded for too long. I want you to sit in that struggle, sit in that hurt. Talk it out, get out your emotions. Let yourself deal with the feelings that you’re feeling, but don’t stay there for too long. Allow each no, to be a learning lesson.

There could be a number of reasons why someone says no. It could be your price, the style of your photography.

It could be your availability, maybe you’re not available when they need you.

It could be that someone responded faster. It could be that they found a better fit. But how do you know? Here’s how you know.

Don’t be afraid to ask why they said no.

We jump to conclusions when someone says no and normally the conclusion we jump to is our biggest insecurity. If you’re insecure about your prices, the quality of your photography or any of those things, that’s typically what you assume they said no to. But if you want to grow from the no, you need to know why they said no.

So I recommend sending them an email, and thank them for the no and ask them how you can improve your service as a photographer. Say to them, “Can you please let me know, or would you be willing to let me know, why you decided to go with another photographer?” It can feel really awkward and uncomfortable to ask someone, but they have the option to say, “I’d rather not say,” or to just ignore you and not write you back.

But I do not personally think that asking them why they chose another photographer is inappropriate.

I think you are doing yourself an incredible favor by finding out why so that you can course correct.

So if it is your prices, maybe you need to add your prices to your website. Maybe you need to have a starting at price, so you can sort of weed out those price shoppers.

If it’s an availability issue, that’s a no brainer. I don’t feel like we would get really upset if we just weren’t available that day, because that’s just out of our control. 

If someone responded faster, yes, absolutely I would want to know because now I know where to prioritize my time when inquiries come in. I need to respond faster because in this day and age, people are looking for response times that are quick. Although we don’t want to give them the wrong impression that we’re always around to answer their questions, when they are an inquiring client, it’s absolutely crucial that we have a quick response time.

If they just found someone who was a better fit, I mean that’s sometimes a generic way of saying, “I don’t want to really tell you why, because I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” So that one I feel like is a little more tough to absorb, but it’s really important to not be afraid to ask. Learn and grow so that you can get better and do better.


Don’t allow yourself to stay in that sadness for too long and remember not to take it personal. They’re not saying no to you as a person, they’re just saying no to what you’re offering.

When you can step into that headspace, you can accept the no so much more easily. Just know that some no’s hurt more than others and that’s going to happen. Using this three step process I shared is really going to help you get past that no. It’s going to really help you understand that there’s so many photographers out there, and you’re not the right photographer for everyone and that’s okay. Once you accept that and embrace that, you can more easily bounce back after the no.

I hope that you feel so much more empowered to handle and deal with those no’s as a photographer.

I know it can feel real hard, I really do. And I would love for you to find a trusted friend and if you don’t have one, find one. It’s absolutely crucial that you have a business bestie that you can do life with. That you can chat through these difficult situations with.

I also wanted to remind you that if you are interested in joining us for the free Passion to Profit challenge, you can head on over to thepurposegathering.com/challenge to sign up, and you will receive an email that has a link to our community page called The Purpose Gathering Mamas.

If you do not have that trusted friend, I would encourage you to post in that group looking for a trusted friend. I know that there are many other women in that group who don’t have a business bestie and need one. So that would be a great opportunity for you to plug in and get to know someone on a deeper level, who can do life alongside you.

Remember to connect with me over on Instagram, and let me know on a scale from one to five how you are feeling about handling rejection as a photographer. It’s not going to be an overnight kind of thing, but I think just that perspective change and giving you a little bit of guidance here will definitely help.

I want you to know mama, that I am always here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.


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My mission is to help fellow momtogs (mama photographers!) experience success in business and in motherhood. As an Arizona brand photographer for mompreneurs, I’m passionate about capturing authentic images that show off my clients’ unique personalities so they can connect with their ideal clients. And as an online business coach for momtogs, I LIVE for helping mamas experience incredible transformations that help them build a business they love, without sacrificing their precious time with their littles.

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