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As I type this blog post, I am pretty darn scared to share it. It’s a topic that has been laid on my heart to share and, even though I may not want to and I could easily decide to keep it to myself, I am going to step out on a limb and share a personal struggle in hopes that it will help someone else who is struggling with the same things. However, I do want to preface this post by saying that it is in no way an attempt to get sympathy or for anyone to feel bad for me. If you heard me speak at Justin and Mary’s The Event, you heard me speak on a topic very similar to the one in this blog post. Unfortunately, as most small business owners do, I have faced a lot of incredibly harsh criticism while growing my business. Maybe even more than most, because I began my business in high school during a time that social media and cyber bullying were more prevalent than ever. However, this post does not just to apply to photographers or to small business owners. It applies to any mothers, students, athletes, teachers, hard workers or young men and women who have experienced the harsh battle of cyber bullying or harsh criticism from strangers or loved ones.
Yesterday, I spent the day off with a friend exchanging head shots for a big project coming up soon. We were riding to our last location when my friend say “Oh, did you see that tweet that was circulating last week?” “A tweet?”, I wasn’t sure what she was talking about at all and followed my question up with “a tweet about me?”
You see, if you didn’t hear me speak at The Event, then you don’t know all of the cyber bullying I faced in high school. I would frequently search my name on Twitter to find strangers mocking me, sharing inappropriate images from Google alongside my hashtags, other photographer’s spokesmodels bashing my work and people very frequently referencing me as “the rich white girl who’s daddy bought her a nice camera” (My dad was struggling to pay for groceries while serving in the military. That never happened). I am truly so thankful for this time of my life because God had a plan and it helped shape me into the person and the business owner that I am today, but the hurt that I faced during that time of my life was very real. I still search my name on Twitter, but not as frequently, because the things that are posted typically do not affect me as they used to. I know that they are typically harmless jokes that are not meant to hurt my feelings, and some people may not even view me as a person with feelings at all. They just view me as a business and as a photographer, and nothing more. And I’ve learned that that is okay.
But, when my friend pulled up the tweet that was posted this week, I shuddered just a little bit. It stung. It will probably always sting just a little. Because it was pretty harsh. It was a random stranger, who I have never met, and the tweet was a photo. It was a photo from someone’s prom that had been drastically and purposefully overexposed. The caption read “Every Hope Taylor photo ever”. I honestly laughed initially-I get it, my photos are bright and people think it’s funny because it’s not everyone’s style. That’s okay with me. But when I swiped with my thumb to scroll down, that’s when it REALLY stung. 36 retweets and 103 favorites. 103. One hundred and three people who took the time to laugh at a tweet that was at my expense. 103 people who, after scrolling through multiple times, I discovered were friends from high school, past neighbors, acquaintances and even past clients. Wow.
At my last workshop, after the majority of the attendees had left and a few of us were finishing up some Q+A, one of the sweet attendees looked at me and asked “So, this may be too personal, but how do you handle the harsh criticism you receive? Sometimes it gets hard for me to handle, and I didn’t know if you had any advice”. My response was “Well, God used a really rough time of my life in high school to teach me lots of lessons about criticism, so I’m used to it”. After what happened this week, I know that is simply not true. No one will ever get “used” to harsh criticism. No one deserves cyber bullying and people posting horrible things about them online. And my response to this attendees question was unfair, because there are very practical ways to handle criticism and I lied to her by saying I was “used to it”. Because I am not, and I never will be. So, for those of you who have faced harsh criticism, who have felt the sting of cyber bullying or have woken up to an unprovoked social media post about you, here is some advice for how to handle it.
This sounds silly, but really. It is OKAY to cry. If you are a business owner, it’s okay to put down your walls of being a kickass boss lady, just for a second. You are a HUMAN. You have feelings. The things people say affect you and that is normal. If you need to cry, cry. Let it out and know that what you are feeling is okay and you are only human and you did not deserve this.
2. Don’t Respond.
Oh, friends, this was a hard lesson for me to learn. How dare someone say something so untrue about me when they have NEVER met me? How dare someone mock me or say something so hurtful with no concern for how it will make me feel? My immediate response every time is to defend myself and type out a nasty response as fast as my thumbs will let me. But, you are so much bigger than that. The person who typed that post or said that awful thing probably had no intention of genuinely hurting your feelings. Or, maybe they did. I’ve been in both situations. But, regardless, a nasty response brings you down to their level. It makes you just as hateful and mean as they are. Hey, maybe you feel like they deserve it, but that’s not the point. Rise above the comment and know that for every person saying something mean and hateful, there are hundreds more who are cheering you on. Including me.
“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity” – Titus 2:7
3. Put it in it’s place.
You’ve cried, you’ve been angry, you’ve re-read the post or the message more times than you probably should have. But, the hardest part of it all is accepting that there is nothing you can do to change it. As much as you wish you could, you can’t. And that is okay. Why? Because God says “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
God walked before you to plan your life perfectly and flawlessly to prosper you and NOT to harm you. God has an incredible plan for you life that cannot be changed or altered or affected by the horrible things that people may say about you along the way. Are they hurtful? Absolutely. Is it okay to cry and be sad? Of course. But, is it okay to let it knock you off of your path? Never. God is using you in amazing, life-changing, ground-shaking ways and the enemy will do everything in his power to try to take that away from you. Don’t you dare let that happen. People can say whatever they want, they can post horrible things and hundreds of people can agree and favorite it all they want, but that does not change your heart or God’s perfectly orchestrated plan for your life. Keep going. Never back down. I am cheering you on every step of the way.
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SWEET GIRL!!! Thank you for sharing this with us! The internet is for cowards…I don’t say that to be mean, but simple to point out that if asked to be mean to your face, I guarantee all 103 “favorite-ers” would be pretty quiet!! KEEP ON HUSTLIN’ GIRL! (PS: I LOVE my headshot from C@H round 4, and I’m so pleased it was YOU that took it!!!)
I LOVE you + I LOVE this!!! Keep going sweet friend!!!
Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us, Hope! You are such a talented and gifted soul, and it’s comforting to know someone as talented as you are still faces harsh criticism and that I am not alone. I really appreciate your tips, especially #2 – because that’s always my first instinct is to defend myself. I’ve always defended myself in the past and it never ends up well. Someone once told me, “What other people think of you, is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.” and it’s really helped me to realize that I need to stop caring what other people think of me. Can’t wait to learn from you at The Gathering! <3
Hope, you are my FAVORITE photographer ever! I hope that my business will be as successful as yours. I love your style, your work, and YOU so much. Seeing how real you are and following you on your blog and through social media makes me aspire to be like you even more. I love how during tough times you seek out God and find comfort and strength through scripture. You’re truly an inspiration and I hope one day to meet you!
I’ve been an admirer of yours for awhile now and have watched you grow immensely in such a short amount of time. You have a heart of gold darling! I applaud you for speaking out on such a harsh reality. Keep being you;the profession needs more souls like yours!
HOPE! This is really great! Thank you SO much for sharing this! I really needed to read this! Thanks girl! Xoxo
Oh Hope, you’re AMAZING! I wish I was half as talented as you are in high school. You’re such an inspiration for so many people and thank you so much for sharing about the tough stuff! Your work is incredible, you’re so sweet, and I know I’m just one of thousands of people cheering you on! I can’t wait to attend one of your workshops one day 🙂
Hope, I seriously loved this blog post! Everything behind it was so true, and really eye opening! People can be so cruel, and sometimes it’s so hard to just put it behind you. Every time I look at your photos I am in absolute awe at how beautiful they are, and always feel so honored to be one of your 2017 Spokesmodels! Lots of love to you and this post!! ????????????????
I heard you speak on this at the Justin and Mary Event and have to say I appreciate your raw honesty. I am overwhelmed with the fact people can be so rude and immature. I absolutely love the way you photograph because I also shoot in bright and airy. These people are clearly envious and the only thing you can do is feel sorry their heart isn’t full of love like yours is. Send them love and brush them off. You’ve come a long way and continue to push through. Those are energy vampires who want to see you fail. Don’t let them have that satisfaction!
Thanks for sharing, it means alot that yoy are addressing the issue and how to handle it. You are one bad ass boss lady and I’d everyone loved your style than you would be doing something vanilla and nobody wants just vanilla, they want a little extra spunk! And your spunk is alright by me.
This is an awesome post. Thank you for sharing despite how scary it must be. I’ve struggled with cyber bullying to the point that I can’t even use my real name to run my business. I’m still constantly scared that the bullies will find my site and have a field day harassing me. It’s inspiring to me that you can be so open about this issue. I’m so sorry that this is something you have to deal with (or anyone has to deal with!) You are very brave to post this.
ps. I love your work and all of it’s glorious brightness!
Love this sweet girl! Never let them get to you. *hugs* Your work is amazing, and everyone loves the experience you give them. You love on your clients like no other. Keep rocking it out girl! *hugs* <3 And keep your head high.
You are truly such an inspiration to me and others out there. I was severely bullied and I’ve been teaching myself phtogoraphy and have been going through so many struggles that seeing your posts and pictures really do truly inspire me. God bless you for being strong and open about your experiences. ❤️
Dearest Hope, you are a beautiful young lady inside and out. Your photography speaks for itself. You are a shining example for every good person out there, and I wish you all the success you so rightly deserve.
What a great post!! Thank you for sharing this!
I know the boy who made that rude tweet, and I know how horrible his personality is. He is a cruel person who puts others down because it or someone is different than himself. I applaud your strength to share this post as well as your sincerity in your words. I have always been a fan of your style as it makes the people seem happier and shine bright. Just because someone has a different style does not mean they are bad photographers and one day that boy may understand that. I will continue cheering for you and your business as it continues to grow!
You are amazing!!!
Well said, lady! Let those haters hate! Keep on shining! 🙂
I love you so much for this post! Girl you are so amazing! I was awed and inspired by you at your Dec. workshop. Your words in this post are wise beyond your years. Proud of you girl and glad to know you!! XOXO!
Thank you so much for sharing, Hope. I know it would have been so easy for you to just keep this to yourself and your friends, but you shared with the rest of the world. I’m so sorry that this happened to you, but I’m glad that you’re choosing to rise above it and encourage others to take a stand against bullying. Your work is gorgeous, you are amazing, and your heart is so big. Keep on being you!
God has great plans for you! You are a shinning star with a sweet and gentle spirit. Thank you for having the courage to share your experience.
I never…and I mean never post on pages. Not as a conviction, just I keep interaction to the non media world. I am so proud of you for your reaction and stand. God is using these moments to position you for greatness. Keep him as your first love and watch what he will do in your life. Thanks, Best wishes. Mallory
Thanks for sharing Hope! This is good.
Hi sweet gal!! This is a raw and emotional post… I love it! I love how honest you are about a topic that more people, creatives especially have a hard time with. We put our heart and soul into our work and when it is not met with an open warm response there is a sense of failure that seeps in BUT we can’t let it. I love your suggestions and think everyone needs to be reading this!
Thank you for your authenticity! People criticize and bully because of their own insecurities and need to put people (and their work) down. This post in an inspiration and gift to anyone experiencing the same emotions. How utterly brave of you to put yourself out there!
Seriously love this. This has helped me in so many ways on how to deal with things. I always feel as if I am getting judged for not being “typicall” + not going to college straight out of high school. I like to look at it this way — I am a 19 year old baby boss lady who is pursuing her dreams while I can + watching them come true, step by step. Going to your workshop helped me realize that I AM in the right spot + on the right path. God is SO amazing + He is for sure leading me in the right spot. Love you, girl!! Keep on rocking.
That truly was inspiring that everyone needs to hear. Nobody deserves it and I’m glad you learned to push through it and overcome it because we all have had those times where we want to instantly react. I have learned to be the “bigger” person and let things go. Your posts are always great at guiding and inspiring those trying to make something of themseleves. I’m glad you had the nerve to share something very real that so many go through!!
I admire how strong you are. I love the fact that you have the courage to speak out against cyber bullying, and the courage to keep doing what you’re passionate about. Your work inspires me, and one day I hope to be able to be as successful as you. No ones words should ever be enough to make you quit something that you love, and especially something that you’re wonderful at! ❤️