March 30, 2015

An Open Letter To The Stranger Who Felt The Need To Tear Me Apart

We don't know one another. We've never met. We're not connected online. We have not interacted in any way. Our paths had never crossed until the other day.

That's when you tried to make me look bad to my employer. Attempted to discredit me and rip apart my work and my credentials.

Calling me "talentless," "delusional" and, "phony" is one thing. I don't expect everyone to appreciate my work. But making false accusations and attacking my character? That crosses the line.

I could turn this into a point-counterpoint post, detailing the many ways in which your claims were erroneous. But I don't feel the need. I know what is true and I stand by my work.

I don't do what I do for affirmation, or accolades, or even for money, although all are nice. I do what I do because I am called to create. I have to tell stories; my tools are a keyboard and a camera.

The only people who have to approve my words are my editors. And the only people who need to be delighted by my photographs are my clients. You are entitled to your opinion, as is everyone. But you will not discourage nor dissuade me.

If that was your goal, I'm afraid you have failed.

You didn't even hurt my feelings, if you want to know the truth. What I saw in your words was bitterness, resentment, and what could be interpreted as a tinge of jealousy. That is how you made yourself look, whether or not it is an accurate representation.

Through your words you appeared small, petty, and intolerant.

I don't know you or why you did what you did. All I know is you created an online account just so you could belittle me. You had to set up an account on the site in order to comment, something you had never done before that day.

Personally, I always look to see the good in people. I believe in giving others the benefit of the doubt. And I want to do that with you. I want to assume you were not trying to be cruel. That you did not think about how your words can impact others. That you were simply having a bad day and acted impulsively.

Yet your words demonstrate you took time with them. That you researched my background and experience and familiarized yourself with my work before crafting them.

I am part of many communities. Writers. Bloggers. Parents. For the most part I have found them to be incredibly supportive as well as inspirational. My experience has been positive.

I've been offered encouragement along the way. And some constructive criticism. But I've never had anyone malign me until you did.

Perhaps the photography community is a bit more cutthroat. I'm going to hope you are the exception to the rule.

So far, the photographers I've encountered have been wonderful. They have offered encouragement, insight and have been happy to discuss their profession with me. Even when we work in the same market and could potentially be competitors. Which is not the case with you, because you are across the country.

Yes, I know who and where you are. You used the same name in leaving your diatribe as you do professionally. It took all of five seconds for me to Google you and find your website, Facebook page, Instagram profile.

You are neither nameless nor faceless to me now. Learning you are a photographer put your words somewhat into perspective. Though I will never understand your motivation.

I don't know if anyone has ever made a concentrated effort to defame you. If so, I hope you ignored it, and continued to pursue your dreams. Nurture your passion. Practice your craft.

Because no one should ever be given the power to take those things away. And I most certainly will not grant it to you, just because you chose to use your keyboard to sling vitriol in my direction from 3,000 miles away.

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