When surrounded by praise, why is it that one bad comment can bring us down? As creatives do we often wear our heart on our sleeve?

Let’s face it — even though we say we create for ourselves, we frequently seek praise and recognition for our work. It’s inevitable that amongst the praise there are also the critics. The rise of social media and digital photography has made this almost instantaneous. You shoot, you upload, you score. I can’t argue it gives us a little thrill to see those likes and hearts. But why do we always seem to zero in on the negative?

I know when I create my art, I occasionally have a moment, just before hitting the post button. Will people like it or hate it. I recently posted an image from a creative Steampunk shoot, which I was particularly proud of. I was swimming in a world of praise, little hearts all over the place, when suddenly a single notification knocked the wind out of my sails.


This image was rejected for publication on a group Facebook page as it, apparently, didn’t seem “believable.” I received a message saying that while they normally really like my work, they did not think a person with a magnifying glass would be looking at the audience. Huh? This really peeved me, to say the least.

But why did it anger me … I mean really, why? I had so many lovely comments on this image, yet I was fixated on this one comment.

This is a creative series. Every image tells a small story — it’s pure fantasy. The costumes, the makeup, the props … all in an effort to make this feel like a fantasy image. Of course, none of it is real. But is it believable? The correct answer should be who cares?

The fact that it was not universally loved, to be honest, was upsetting. Did I honestly think that everyone would adore my work? Of course not. I have had people love and hate my work for years. It comes with the territory, so why this one comment? I have no idea.

I don’t have all the answers, but it did get me thinking. With all the praise I became fixated on that one negative comment. Is it a manifestation of imposter syndrome? Was I secretly worried that this particular piece, which I had spent months working on, was not as cool as I had wanted it to be?

I then spent a little bit of time with my thoughts, trying to decipher why it upset me. I have dealt with other critics of my work and while not everyone loves a creative edit, I have learnt to deal, for the most, with those.

The moral

So what IS the moral of this story? Have you ever experienced this yourself? I guess all we can do is remind ourselves that not everyone will automatically love everything we create. We should focus on the good feedback, and if we do get criticism, decide if it’s helpful and constructive or simply an annoyance that should be filed away as just that?

I guess, at the end of the day it’s your opinion that matters the most. If you love it, chances are most people will too. But remember, there will always be critics.

Model – Nicola Paige | HMUA – Teighan Felton