dream killah

by lizzie & isaiah on August 23, 2011 · 16 comments

Isaiah and I are creative freelancers. We have sent many an RFP (request for proposal) and received plenty of emails that read, “I like your style, you’re just not right for this project.” We call those emails, collectively, The Man. Sometimes The Man raineth upon us. Or shiteth upon us, whatever floats your boat.

We’re working right now on rebranding and developing all original content and marketing collateral for Isaiah’s mom’s salon. Really, she’s a fantastic stylist and her business has thrived for more than 15 years based solely on word of mouth. We’re really excited about being able to help her out and the project is a really fun creative testing ground for us as well.

Part of the project is to find models and a photographer for a styled shoot. We want to showcase her unique style and the vibe of her salon with an über-amazing shoot-to-end-all-shoots that will provide all the photos for the website, the blog and submissions to print publications.

We decided to start by posting a Craigslist ad for a photographer. It’s a paying gig and the shoot will be great for someone’s portfolio, but heaven help you if you ask a photographer to come out “just for their portfolio.” We would be damned. We’ve been asked to design logos “just for our portfolio.” I’ve been asked to write editorial stories for teeny-tiny print publications “just for my portfolio.” Isaiah’s been asked to model nude “just for his portfolio.” That guy turned out to be a creeper, who would have thought? Just kidding.

Anyway, we asked for going rates and a link to a portfolio. Kept it basic. Made sure people knew it is a legit shoot and we offered pay. That’s what we went for. It was 3 sentences long.

We put it up the night before last at 11:48 p.m.

We got our first email at 11:49.

The emails continued to pour in until last night at 11:13 p.m. when we had to take down the ad. We found two perfect photographers and now it’s all up to Isaiah’s mom to pick the one she likes best.

It was easy-peasy. We knew the top two the second we opened their portfolios.

What wasn’t easy was getting link after link to portfolios that weren’t a good fit. For one reason or another, their work screamed amateur with over-editing, the style was just wrong or they just weren’t good enough for what we’re looking for.

I hate waiting and waiting for a response to an email that never comes – especially if I put the energy some of these photographers put into it. So we decided we were going to respond to each and every email, no matter how painful and time consuming it was … it’s better to know that you’re not right for a project than drive yourself crazy wondering if you’re still under consideration.

We wrote the emails very kindly: Think “It’s not you. It’s me.”

We hoped that would put an end to it all. It would have for us. Maybe we would have sent back, “Thanks for the consideration. Keep us in mind for any future projects.” But, really, that would have been it.

Instead, we received responses pushing for the job, “No, you don’t understand, you will pick me.” At that point, we had no option but to respond with a long-winded, “Look, we get it. But you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

Still, the responses came back to us, pushing harder, explaining why they were perfect for the project, even though we knew they weren’t.

We were systematically killing a dream many of them said was exactly what they needed and everything they’re looking for. 

In the end, it’s just a single shoot. It may or may not get a photographer some exposure. It definitely will get “the chosen one” a hefty paycheck. It’s likely not going to change anyone’s life but Isaiah’s mom. That’s why we need to keep her best interests at heart and be picky and short and cut off a pushy conversation before it gets worse.

But one thing’s for sure: It’s not a position we like being in. 

Photo: Killing Dreams“ Pinned from the AMAZINGLY TALENTED Javier Lopez

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Christie O. {Hindsight Bride} August 23, 2011 at 9:17 am

Yeah, rejection sucks, but we all have to deal with it. Fit *IS* important., especially when it comes to branding No judgement there. It just is what it is.

What a nightmare. You’re a better person than I am Lizzie. After writing the second email I would have ignored further requests for consideration. That’s just ridiculous. Folks need to learn how to accept rejection and move on instead of wasting everyone’s time (including their own) begging and trying to coerce a different decision. Sheesh!


lizzie & isaiah August 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm

DUDE RIGHT. I know you know – accepting rejection can suck…but really, sometimes, you just have to do what’s classy and right, not what MIGHT get you the job.


Jessica August 23, 2011 at 10:27 am

Oy, I have to admit that rejection can hurt your ego a bit but I think it’s rude to be pushy. True they are selling their talent but a business-minded person should recognize that not all work can be beneficial (hello, clash). People really need to start accepting that not everyone is going to like them.

I am really impressed that you and Isaiah responded to each and every email from a Craigslist ad no less because that can truly be daunting. Thanks to the closure the both of you provided perhaps it lead to some reflection for the photographers.


lizzie & isaiah August 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm



liz August 23, 2011 at 10:45 am

gah, i felt that way while wedding planning. i’m thinking of one particular photographer who would NOT stop- he emailed me weeks later to compliment a blog post and reiterate how perfect we would be in his portfolio. YEESH.

(and josh has been asked to pose nude, too! weirrrd)


lizzie & isaiah August 23, 2011 at 7:16 pm

DUDE, wtf. We have had a couple of venues do that…”you should have your wedding here…we want to work with you.” “i said no.”

also. i was kidding about isaiah posing nude…but i’m SO sorry for Josh, ha. chirp chirp.


craftosaurus August 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Ok, there’s spunk and all, but that’s just weird. I can see asking for some constructive criticism to improve one’s work for the next go, but arguing the point? If nothing else, it screams “I’m unpleasant to work with.”


lizzie & isaiah August 23, 2011 at 7:17 pm

EXACTLY. if they had said – can you tell me why you turned me down for this project? that would have made plenty of sense. but they didn’t. they just insisted they were perfect.


Sarah August 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm

How weird to be on the other side of it. I heard some great advice for hiring suppliers “if you don’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling, they’re wrong for the job.” You need to follow your instincts, and if you know they’re wrong, they’re wrong. But it can’t be fun to have to send those emails!


lizzie & isaiah August 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm

DUDE TOTALLY. we’re dealing with some talented dicks right now too and we just decided to cut the fat on that. “I’m perfect for this. Call me with a date for the shoot.” Uh. Okay, no.


Katherine August 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Wow. I guess there’s something admirable about their gusto and I understand the challenges of freelance work (especially when it’s the only source of income) but really? No means no. Being so persistent is not only annoying but unprofessional. Way to take the higher ground on your responses… I doubt I would have!


lizzie & isaiah August 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Right? The contrast between those pushy photographers and the uber-friendly, bubbly and creative ones is ridiculous.


Lena August 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I had a really interesting experience when I was job hunting a few months ago-I interviewed with a company, consistently thought I wasn’t the right fit during two interviews and multiple conversations, and then…they offered me the job. I knew I didn’t want it, my recruiter said that very plainly but in the end, they still begged to speak to me. Their head of HR called and told me I NEEDED to take this job-I could not believe it. You’d think that the right fit is clear to everyone, and that if it’s not you’d quietly accept that reality, but I guess the truth is that people are CRAZY.


lizzie & isaiah August 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm

WHAT?! THAT’S RIDICULOUS. Glad you didn’t take it. If they’re that crazy about something like that…think of how it would have been to work for them.


Brandi {not your average ordinary} August 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Wow. While I admire their confidence, it seems almost psychotic. I’ll definitely try to make my case for such things at least once, but I know how to accept rejection too. Sometimes styles are too different. That’s okay. That all said, I can’t wait to see how these photos turn out.


Lisa August 29, 2011 at 9:47 am

That is so awesome that you are not only working with Isaiah but with his mom too! how cool! also, you are THE BEST for getting back to people. Even if its not what they want to hear, people never seem to take the time to get back to interviewees or applicants. It is an wonderful gesture. Best of luck with this project!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: