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Handling Criticism

Lesson 40 from: Building Your Family Portrait Business

Tamara Lackey

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Lesson Info

40. Handling Criticism


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I LOVE Photography and I Want to Make Money


From Photographer to Business Owner


Building Your Business To Fit The Life You Want


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Creating a Simple Business Plan - What To Know And What To Skip


Branding And Identity


Significance Of Constantly Marketing


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Lesson Info

Handling Criticism

Okay. This is such a big thing, handling criticism. How many people here, enjoy, putting something online, and then having someone jump on, and say, "It's horrible, you're crappy, you should quit." Raise your hand if you love that. Okay, raise you're hand, if you're kinda scared of that, you kinda cringe a little bit, you wince when you see somebody commenting on something you put out, that was actually vulnerable for you to do. Yeah, all of us, every single one of us. All of us. Kenna, what about you, do you cringe? Yes. 'Cause it's real. No matter how good are, how confident you are, you have these pesky things, called feelings. And they get in the way all the time, but they're real. So, I think one of the best ways to handle criticism, is to go out and just set the expectation. I expect it. I'm going to decide, that I expect criticism. This for me was a decision point. I am gonna decide, 'cause I put a lot of things out, I put out photographs, I put out videos, I put out intervi...

ews. I put out a production like this, and the amount of times I've decided, I put myself out there, and I kinda screwed up a little bit, is plentiful. I'll be out there, I'm like, "Oh, it's not what I wanted to put out there. "I'm gonna get attacked for that." I do, and I will. And other people do and they will, and you'll do, and you will. So, expect the criticism, that will come, anytime you're a creative person, with feelings, putting out work that you love. If you start from that place, I'm not saying it doesn't sting, but it comes less, and less stinging. You kinda know it's coming, you're not shocked, you're not bulled over when you see something, that's mean, or you hear something mean directly from somebody else, 'cause you kinda knew it was coming. And by setting yourself up that way, you're better able to handle it. Stuart Scott, I don't know if you guys know Stuart, but he was an anchor with ESPN for 20 years, sportscaster. I interviewed him once, for a redefined show, years ago, and he became a friend, and then he became a good friend, and then became a very close friend. Here's a photograph of him and his daughters, in our home. One of the times they came over. And, what I think is so fascinating, about the way Stuart handled criticism, is this, he got it all the time. He's talented and sharp, and smart, and could communicate things so well, lyrically, like he literally made up catch phrases for ESPN. Have you heard of, "Booyeah," and "Cooler than the other side of the pillow," and all these things that became catch phrases in the sports area, these are the terms that he came up with, because he was clever. But he was also extraordinarily mature about somethings, other things he was a goofball, and he'd roll around on the ground. But other things, like ex ordinarily mature, and one of them was, understanding what criticism to take, and which to ignore. And would get like, I would follow him on Twitter, and he would retweet the ugliest comments, someone could make to another human being. That you're just like, "Why are you even saying this?" And it's not just him, I mean, on those programs all the time, Jimmy Kimmel's hate tweets for celebrities? You put yourself out there, it comes back. So, he, as the celebrity, would get comments like this, and then he'd retweet it. And the comment will be something like, "You're a horrible person, I hope you die tomorrow." Or something like, "What, I hate the way you presented that," or "the way you commentated." Or whatever the case might be. He'd retweet that, and all he'd say is, "You sound like you need a hug." (audience laughs) So, what happens when he says, "You sound like you need a hug," with a hateful tweet? Dissolved and immediately diffused it, stepped outside of it, wasn't taken down by it, and made the other person look like, kind of an idiot. Right? He didn't scream back at them, he wasn't feld by it. And he continued to do things like that, again, and again, and again. That's the way he viewed trolls, and the backlash of being famous, and putting out a lot of great, creative content. Was he decide, he decided, to say, "Who is saying it? "You just said something terribly ugly, who are you? "Who are you to me? "How much do I value what you have to say? "Because I value what a lot of people say. "I value what my daughters say, "I value what my close friends say, "I value my mother, my father, my siblings, "and my dear friends. "If they come back and say to me, "that was a really crappy broadcast, "I'm gonna say, (gasp) why, what happened? "Tell me, I wanna hear you opinion. "I wanna mine for gold, in criticism, "that I think will be helpful and let me improve, "what I'm doing. "I want your criticism, and your feedback, "and it matters to me that you felt that way. "Everything else? "Background noise. "I don't care what you think of me. "You're background noise, you're hum. "I wish you the best in your life, "but I'm not gonna change what I'm doing, "and living the life I wanna have, "because one random person over there decides that "I wanna spread hate." And he did that very, very well. It's just noise, that I wanna ignore, while I'm out here getting things done. Yes? Just wanted to ask, on the topic of trolls, and things like that. When it's kids, it's different. When it's your own kids, it hurts. When it's someone else's kids, do you ever, like when you're promoting your work, do you ever end up in a situation where, people were saying mean things, and it affected the parents of the kids that you were shooting with? Did people ever say mean things about the kids that I photographed? Right, let's say you put out work with that. Never. Do you ever feel like you have to, do you ever feel protective of the kids, or the parents, or do parents ever come to you, and say, "Hey, I saw this on the picture of my kids," kinda thing. I truly have never had an experience with someone had said something ugly about a kid. But, or in addition, I will say, think I mentioned this yesterday, I am really cautious about what I share. I'm not gonna put something that is inviting criticism, or meanness, or anything worse. I'm not gonna put that out. I'm gonna be just as protective of that child, as my little client, as I would anything else. Start from there, right? If there's any suggestion of anything, like on my social media page, delete, delete, delete, delete. I own that page. You wanna come on and say something, that I think might be critical of me, but I can deal with it, it's fine, I might be able to get something out of it, okay. But if you're gonna come on and trash my clients, me, people I care about, or just say something terribly ugly in general, I don't have to come-- you didn't have to come over here and trash my property. That's my page. I have no problem with that. I had people say like, "I feel bad, I don't wanna delete them, "I don't want people to think that I couldn't take it." I'm like, "Why're you letting them trash your house? "No, that's not your call." Well, I actually think that's a good distinction, between, if it's about you, fine, if it's about-- Maybe. Yeah. Maybe. 'Cause maybe it's not, maybe it's actually harassment. Right. And if it's about them, that's a good line to draw. Yeah, yeah. I do wanna clarify that, though. It's not always okay, if it's about me. It's not always okay if it's about you. 'Cause generally speaking, I'm just one more person, allowing you to trash me, because of something that's outta my control. The way I look, the way I was born, the way I-- Anything, right? You don't get that right. And I don't wanna contribute to you having that right. So, I'm not okay about everything on my page about me. And I would strongly suggest you think of that that way, as well. That's an even better line. So, three categories. Real criticism, which we can take. You know, not real criticism, like what you just mentioned. And anything that's an attack on someone else. If it's just to hate, no, I'm not okay with that. And it goes accordingly. So, if you find yourself putting yourself out there, on multiple channels, you have the right, in all those channels, to mitigate damage, against you or others. Know that that is your right, you know. So, if the criticism thing is, 'cause if I do that, then it'll be put out there, and it'll live out there forever, no it won't. And you work with people where you do go out on things. So, if I work with certain channels, where there's a constant amount of trolling or something, and I had chosen to work with that channel, we work together to say, "Gosh, what should stay out there, and what should live out there?" So, I don't think there's anybody, who has ever helped me form these decisions about criticism, more than Stuart, because of that. Because of the fact that he would go on a live broadcast, he would do something amazing. He did something once, it was like a slow jam poet thing, if you get a chance, look up "Stuart Scott Slow Jam Poet." It was so cool, but he riffed, like live on camera, this incredible thing that he'd written, and it involved timing and it was so cool, it was so smart, and he put that out there, and people went like, "Just do the news. Just do your sports." You know, and he's like, "Psst, I'm planning my next one." And really did like, is like the way to brush it off, that was just so inspiring, I was so inspired by that. This is a photograh I took of him, once out, late night slash early morning, it was a night that everybody was at this long dinner we did, which was drinks, and a roof top bar, and karaoke, and finally out at a diner, at two, three, four in the morning. I had my camera, and I just took a shot of him being a super goof, and all we had was low light camera, and it's shaky, and technically speaking, it's you know, there's movement, and there's blur, this huge candle in front, and whatever. But he's cracking up, and it's moment, and it was a great moment. And what does photography do? Photography stops time. And I wanted to stop that time, 'cause it was such a great night. It was such a great experience, and I was so inspired by him. And when he passed away, a couple of years ago, because of cancer that he fought, and fought, and fought. This photo, was on the front of his funeral program. And I remember sitting down, and I didn't know it was gonna be, I gave them all the photographs I'd had of him. And there was these two large canvases, that were right next to the casket up front, and they were really fun, vibrant images of just him being him, like goofy, and laughing and messing around, but I kept looking at this photograph, on the front of this funeral program, and thinking that this man thrived, doing what he loved, and what he said he was gonna do. And he went after it, and he fought for it, with a lot of kick back. And a lot of criticism, and he realized this was inconsequential noise, that was never gonna stop him from being who he could've been. And by the time he passed away, he was everything he could've been. And it was that powerful. And he showed me, more than anybody else in my whole life, that photography stops time, I still have lots of him alive. And you have to drown out the criticism. It's not worth it for you to give up who you could've been, 'cause of just background noise. You have to let it go. Expect, process it accordingly, let it go. (long sigh) Okay. People who wanna stand out, who have art, who wanna make a difference, I know we're all feeling the same, let's just do tissues everywhere, please. People who wanna stand out, who wanna make a difference, who wanna show their creativity, show what they're capable of, it's just gonna be a part of it. Does anybody here, have an example in their life, that they pull up, they can conjure up, I can't tell you, how much I think about Stuart, in moments where I feel challenged. Does anybody have an experience like that, or could you find one, could you seek one ont? And make it your go-to thought? Make it your go-to thought, whenever you're feeling challenged by something that stops you, over and over again. Conjure up, the experience, the person, the story, whatever it was, and hold to it. Have a resolve in your mind. There's nothing that you could say about me online that will ever stop me from wanting to do what I wanna do. I did not feel that way five years ago. But that is a decision, and a commitment, that has given me an incredible amount of reprieve. I have so many things that kinda kept me like, oh, where is it coming from? 'Cause you can feel like a target, when you put yourself out there. No matter at what level. Making that decision, setting the expectation, and having something that you could hold to, that it dear you, that has changed everything for you, in terms of how you view this, that's ammunition, and you get to protect yourself. You have the right to protect yourself. Do not allow yourself to be diminished, by someone else's narrow view. If you put your work out there, and you're proud of it, and you worked hard, and you think it's great, and you stand next to somebody, who looks at it and go, "Eh." That's kind their narrow view, the don't see everything you see, and they don't have the expertise you have, and they don't have the eye you have. You might say, "Tell me why you're not moved by this image. "Let's share that, maybe I can learn something." But if it's just you, having a narrow scope, and me knowing a lot more, I'm kinda the expert here. I'm not gonna let you tear me down, or tear my work down. I've told this story before, but the short version was, when I first decided I wanna become a professional photographer, I showed my neighbor, who I had hung out with a lot, and I was like, I'm gonna do it, and I showed her my portfolio, and I said, "Do you think I could do it?" Then she said, "No." And I said, "Why?" And she's like, "Photography is already a slammed market, "you can't really make money at it." This was 15 years ago. "You can't really make money at it. "And I mean, I know you like taking pictures, but, "can I be honest with you?" "Yeah." "You're not that good." I was like, "Oh, no, thank, cool, cool, cool, cool. "Cool, cool. Yeah, yeah, no, I knew that, yeah. "I gotta go, I gotta go now." And I did, I shut her door, and I teared up and cried, I crossed over the cul-de-sac, went into my door, shut the door and cried, and I thought, "I'm at a decision point. "Do I let her narrow view decide who I'm gonna be? "And cripple me?" Or do I say, "Ah, you know what, it is gonna be hard, "but I want it so much. "I think I can really do this. "I'm gonna try anyway." I get to decide my life path, right there. And you do too, right here. "The difference between your best, and your worst? "The perception of others. "Block out the noise, and you'll stay on track." Block out the noise, do the tactical exercises we're talking about to block out the noise. It's always gonna come in. I saw this on Twitter, and I just grabbed it, 'cause what happens if you do fail? 'You learn more from failure than success, which is why I know more than anyone else in my life." (man in the audience laughs) So, what if they're right, the critics are right? And you stumble and you fail? Everybody who's done great things has failed. You'd be hard pressed to learn anything about entrepreneurship, and business, and not hear, again, and again, people recount their failures. It's a given part of working. You're working, you're failing. Has anybody in this room, tried something, and not failed? Have you tried something and not failed? No. How about you? Kenna? Kenna, have you failed? Yes. That's amazing. It's a thing, it's gonna happen. I have failed repeatedly, I will fail, I can promise you, I'm gonna try things and fail at them, after today. Who cares? Get better at everybody else you know. Because you'll fail a lot. There is so many things to cover when it comes to business. And photographing, and busyness, and productivity, take care of you in all this. And I mean, actually take care of yourself. Eat well. Exercise. Move yourself. Maintain your body, as one of your best tools, to do this job. Because you can have all the intentions in the world, but you're exhausted, and you're worn down, and you come back in, and you sit down at the end of the day, and think, "You know what, "I probably could do a couple of hours of work, "but I'm just gonna have a bottle of beer, "put my feet up, and I'm gonna start binge watching." It's 'cause you don't have the energy. Do the things you need to do, to take care of yourself. Because you, are the engine in your business. You are the engine. And what do engines do when they just sit there? They rust. When they get crappy gas, they sputter out, you have to fuel the engine of your business, and you, as a small business owner, are the engine. You have to take care of yourself. You know, one another note that I noticed? I am such a better person, just a better person, to everyone around me, when I'm a better person, to myself. I can't give you any better me, than the me that's been taken care of by me. And I suspect it's probably true for all of us.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Tamara Lackey Posing Book Discount
Nations Photo Lab Discount

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This course was fantastic. I learned more on what I need to improve and change in my business. I especially liked learning how she balances all the things in her life. She is a fantastic teacher who keeps you engaged throughout the course. Thank you creativelive and Tamara for producing such a great course!


I thoroughly enjoyed this class, Tamara Lackey is an amazing individual and trainer! I loved what she said about not letting ourselves be diminished by someone else's narrow view... This class touches on many business related topics, I had many "aha" moments and feel excited and committed to tackle various aspects of my business in small steps!! Thanks for sharing so much of you!!!

a Creativelive Student

This was a fantastic class. Tamara is a fantastic teacher and really cares about conveying all the information that she is so passionate about. I found myself hanging off her every word and being so inspired to put her lessons into action. Buy this course - it will pay dividends in your business.

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