Rejection of photographs by 1x curation: Reasons and Consequences

by Head Curator Peter Svoboda 

Almost each artist during his carrier has faced some form of rejection. Doesn’t matter in what art genre it was, from painter to actor, almost everyone.

For us photographers, it can mean as for everyone else an unpleasant experience we have to deal with. It almost doesn’t matter at what  occasion we have dealt with rejection, whether in a photography competition, exhibition, curated internet site or just when presenting our work to a viewer.

Here on we are facing rejection on the internet site when presenting our work online, to the largest curated and one of the most reputable global art photography internet sites.


“Curators” by Gloria Salgado Gispert

Gloria quotes:  I will never forget the day I got my first image published and I would like to take advantage of this article to sincerely thank the curators for being there and for being tough, because this is the only way to progress.

What does “curated site” mean?
It means that there will be only those pictures published on the 1x Front page and 1x Photo galleries which went successfully through the screening process . Our work is evaluated and judged by a professional team of curators who do have only two options – Publish or Reject.

A curator's task is to find pictures which fit on the 1x Front page. Unfortunately we curators, have to reject those pictures which did not comply with the attributes for being published or we have already published a similar image by another author. As we have pointed out many times, rejection by 1x doesn‘t really mean that the picture is bad, it just doesn’t fit on the 1x Front page.

All of us curators are also facing rejection just as other photographers when submitting our images. So we know this feeling very well too.
I would compare 1x publishing to any competition where only the best submission will be chosen and we should be prepared that we can be rejected unless we are absolutely sure about the top quality of our work.

It’s normal that artists facing rejection as well as 1x members would not be happy and will not jump 10 feet high after their work did not make 1x Front page and will feel some negative emotions.  Perception of rejection in photography differs from person to person depending on character, temperament, mood and especially depends on how serious we are doing the art.

The more serious we are about artistic standards in photography,  the harder it may be for the photographer to accept rejection of his or her work. The more we believe in our skills the more unpleasant the rejection can be perceived by us.

With consistently applied and transparent curation criteria this can however be more readily accepted as a learning opportunity, particularly given the option to receive specific feedback from other photographers on 1x, which then can improve acceptance of photographs with subsequent submissions, instead of leading to loss of trust in personal skills or exit from 1x towards other respected curated websites.

Same was with me. I wish rejection on 1x would never evoke unpleasant and negative emotions, like sadness, getting upset, discouragement, lost of motivation.
When I was thinking back through the years of my photography career, I realized that I should be even grateful for some of the rejections I have experienced in my life. They meant for me more than being accepted at first sight. I have learned a lot from these experiences.

In the following I would like to emphasize some of the positive aspects of rejection:

For many photographers this may lead to a thought process about the possible reasons for rejection and a  deeper analysis of submissions which were not accepted. Deeper self-directed analysis  or assisted by other 1x photographer critical feedback can help photographers to find aspects of their work that had previously attracted less attention but have the potential to lead to improvement.

The other consequence of being rejected is often greater selectivity and care when submitting ones work to competition or curators, by choosing our better pictures for submission and improving chances for success.

Rejection can be also encouragement to work harder and work more. This is how it worked out in my own career.  I have often been asked by 1x members how to improve their photographs in order to get published. Not an easy answer and not one that should be given at all
in my opinion.

I don’t think it would be good to change the way of creating art just because of the intention to make our work more likeable for judges. In my opinion the original way of thinking should prevail over the taste of judges. The most important is to follow one’s own ideas and not to change the way we are creating art just because it has been rejected. In the past many artist were rejected during their lifetime despite believing in what they were doing. However their work often has become appreciated just after they passed away. The question is who was wrong and why.

I personally used to analyze rejection just to improve and find out the reasons for each time it happened. I think that there are a few important things when dealing with rejection.

- Was the rejected work really worth appreciation and success?
- Does it show for me personally important attributes?
- Am I considering the image worth facing possible rejection?
- Could rejection uncover weaknesses in my work?
- Will I present such work in the future to different judges or do I need to improve it first?
- Was the rejected work a single image or a body of work?
- Is it worth consideration to know the artistic or business background of the person rejecting my work?

At the end, I would like to encourage all 1x members to use  all the advantages of the current 1x curation system and use it for their self improvement. Whiles rejection can be an unpleasant experience there is always something positive in it too.

I hope all 1x members will learn from a fair and artistic curation system.
Be selective in your choice and submit the very best of your work.

I wish you all the best!  

Peter Svoboda

Thanks to our proofreader Hans ML Spiegel

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