Friday, April 15, 2011

An Editor’s Life: Handling Pressure & Criticism

Being an editor is not a job for the faint of heart. I learned this early on back in my college newspaper days, when I at one point or another had just about every insult you can imagine thrown my way.

When we were too short-staffed to make it to a couple Black History Month events, though we made it to others, I was called a racist and harassed. When we ran an advertising insert from The Onion, angry conservative parents were on the phone accusing me of spreading lies and pornography. Our adviser put my mind at ease by assuring me that public criticism and pushback were signs that others were reading the paper and cared enough about what we had to say to share their own views.

Still, there is a tremendous amount of responsibility in being the final line of defense in what is presented to the public, and the criticism can at times be hurtful and hard to take. As a case in point, last Wednesday on Weddzilla, I shared the shot list I discussed with my photographer in advance of my wedding day.

Though I did get positive feedback, I also got some negative feedback. On Facebook and Twitter, photographers left comments implying that I was obviously a bridezilla, that I didn’t trust my photographer, and that I was crazy to have ever suggested that others might want to do this. Since my list included the more standard and expected shots, along with special creative shots I hoped to have captured, these readers felt it was unnecessary to go over such a list with the photographer at all, saying that he would automatically know to capture most of those pictures.

While I can definitely see their point, I didn’t see the harm in having a conversation with my photographer before the wedding day, letting him know which standard elements we would be including and which we’d be eliminating. For example, I clearly laid out in my list who the key family members were that we wanted pictures with, that the groom was taking the unusual step of walking down the aisle with his parents, and which elements of décor we were including in our setup. Does doing so make me a crazy bridezilla? I certainly don’t think so, especially since I also clearly stated that I in no way wanted to stifle the photographer's own creativity.

In public forums, it is so easy to comment and criticize without knowing where someone is coming from, what their story is and what their intentions are. It is also easy to forget how hurtful certain comments can be. Finally, it’s important to remember that those we "meet" via blogs and online forums are real people, including the editors of these publications. Do we make mistakes on occasion? Yes. Do we hurt just like anyone else when we’re called names and criticized? Yes. Are we perfect in every way? Certainly not.

I love what I do and certainly don’t let others' actions ruin my experience. But I’d be inhuman if I said the pressure and criticism didn’t affect me at times, just as they affect everyone, making me reevaluate how much of myself it’s OK to share as a blogger.

How do you deal with criticism and pressure in your life? Does fear of criticism lead you to limit how much of yourself you share with others, whether in person or on your blog?

(Photo Credits: Alex Neumann Photography)


  1. I was an editor on my HS newspaper and yearbook, and I totally feel you! Not everyone is always going to agree with you, so just try to take it in stride :)

    And for the record, I gave my photographer a shot list too...better safe than sorry!

  2. Ugh - I am of the school of though that if you have nothing nice to say, you just shouldn't say it, especially on a public forum where there is no context to help temper the meaning of your words.

    Making a shot list was key for us. We were friends with our photographer and she read my blog. She definitely knew my style and preferences, but guess what? I didn't write down that I wanted to get a shot of my shoes with my husband's socks, and lo and behold we did not get that photo! She did an amazing job capturing every single other detail but that one. It still hurts, especially since I had wanted to frame that shot in my office. Long story short, if it had been on my shot list, we would have gotten it. And my photographer was happy to get a list and did not feel like it stifled her creativity at all!

  3. so sorry about the critisicm heather. You have got to be one of the most genuine and kind people I have met through the blog world and sometimes I don't think people realize how much words can hurt.

    You are doing a fabulous job, truly you are!!!

    and by the way, I think that because your wedding day is so special.... you are entitled to make sure the person capturing the day knows exactly what you want!

    Keep up the awesome work!!!!

  4. Well I think making a shot list is a great idea! I never thought of that and I really wish I did....some photos....ugh

  5. Uh most wedding websites and magazines RECOMMEND making a shot list for your photographers and a lot of photogs provide sample shot lists so I don't know why these people are so up in arms. You were definitely NOT a bridezilla. I did the same thing and actually we still missed certain shots. Apparently those photogs are mind readers and think every bride is the same and want the same shots. Sorry rant over. You are doing a fabulous job!!

  6. My photographer demanded a shot list. He said that he didn't want me to miss out on any amazing photograph. I was the anti-bridezilla and was happy to comply with his request. (Okay, he was a LOT nicer than that.)

    So, na na na boo boo mean people.

    On a different note, I happen to be the youngest (and yet probably best educated, most only have their BS/MS). A lot of people try to talk down to me with the "I have more years of experience than you" and I've always stood my ground. Very few people can be an expert at ANYTHING but that doesn't mean our views are something that should be respected.

    There is a way to handle anger/emotion/negative thoughts - and most people have no class.

    I know you're used to it but hunny, you don't deserve it!

  7. *BAH - I meant to say

    On a different note, I happen to be the youngest of our group of friends!

  8. BAH AGAIN (TGIF anyone?)

    I also meant to say:

    Very few people can be an expert at ANYTHING but that doesn't mean our views are something that shouldn't be respected.

  9. Sorry about the criticism! I really hate when people throw around the "bridezilla" term so loosely. If you were buying a car and went to a dealer and told them the specific features you wanted you wouldn't get criticized or name called for it! Planning a wedding involves a lot of big purchases and big decisions. Sharing ideas and opinions with vendors does not make someone a "bridezilla".

    Our photographer actually just sent us a questionnaire to fill out so that she doesn't miss any important photos. It's not technically a shot list, like the one you made for your photog, but it will serve the same purpose. Vendors need to know this info since they aren't mind-readers and every wedding is different.

  10. That's so ridiculous that you got heat for that post!! That was a helpful post and I've certainly have seen or read the idea to create a "shot list"'s absurd that people felt the need to call you a bridezilla for that.

    Chalk it up as a life lesson and growing experience by moving on and not caring. You are doing a great job with weddzilla and building up their blog!

  11. i posted a similar post and tell every single bride i work with to do the same. i loved the pics from my wedding but DIDN'T give them a list and that is my biggest regret. you are hiring a photographer to do you a service, and you should be clear on expectations upfront. who are the turds who gave you negative comments? they're either self-conscious or just need to get a life. really?? who takes time to post negative feedback on a BLOG?
    happy friday

  12. I'm feeling Seussical...

    "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

    I love everything you write Heather. Your intentions are always for what's best and that's what holds weight with me.

  13. I'm sorry you've had to deal with criticism. It's hard to put yourself and your ideas out there and have people disagree in a mean way.

    I gave our photographer a shot list too. He warned us that he might not be able to get every shot on the list. In the end, there might be one or two shots that didn't happen but overall he did an amazing job and I'm glad I created the list for him.

  14. for me, criticism is hard to take and it has made it hard to share everything about myself. i applaud you for putting yourself out there and doing what you do.

  15. These people who said these things obviously don't know you and know the kind person you are....and Im sure you know that already! I just wanted to say it again! Im glad you wrote this because its very helpful for others who are just starting out in the business of editing and blogging, whether its for weddings or not.

    I remember when I first started and I got some weird comments and I got really upset. But now I understand that there are those people out there....with the good comes the bad. And I cant do anything to stop it. I just have to be positive and keep going.

    Its tough...but I love what I do! And We love you Heather! <3

  16. So sorry you had people being negative. Some people just have nothing better to do than make snidey comments; I do think that unless people have something nice or constructive to say you then they shouldnt say it, being nasty serves no purpose at all.

    Although we didnt give our photographers an exact shot list, we had a meeting with them in which we went through every shot we wanted. They wanted us to do that to make sure we didnt end up dissapointed if they missed something, something im sure all photographers would want.