I was helping a fellow food blogger with her Facebook page, basically doing for free what I normally charge for, when I happened to mention that she could improve her food photos by using natural light.
Her reaction? She immediately disconnected, distanced herself, refused any further help from me and basically gave me the cold shoulder.
I was amazed!
Yes, my feedback was negative. And although it was not mean, it was direct – I never thought to sugarcoat it. But it was important, helpful feedback that she could leverage to become better at what she does, to be an even more awesome food blogger than she already is.
I myself have been working hard to become a better photographer, and I find that one of the best tools for that is submitting my food photos to tastespotting.com, a “visual potluck” site where users submit food photos, and the site publishes the best of them. When I started out food blogging, the site rejected 99% of my submissions. The criticism was harsh and direct. “Composition” and “lighting” seemed to be the most common reasons my photos were rejected, and although I didn’t like hearing that my photos sucked, I listened. I browsed through the site, looking at photos, getting inspired, getting a feel for what is considered “good lighting” and “good composition.”
I am getting better, although still quite far from where I’d like to be. I estimate that the site now accepts around 50% of my photo submissions, and although it may not seem like much, to me it marks great improvement. Had I not listened, had I decided to stop submitting my photos, I would not have been able to improve.
Negative feedback is extremely difficult to hear. It’s even more difficult to embrace. But if you learn to let go of your ego and pride, and listen, you can turn that feedback into something wonderful – free advice that helps you get better at what you do.