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How Haters are Destroying the Photography Industry – 2019 Update

By Pye Jirsa on February 20th 2019

Editor’s Note from Chris Lin: This article was originally published on May 10, 2012. When it was first released, it instantly became one of our top articles, garnering over half a million page views over its lifetime. It’s obvious that it struck a cord back then in the photography community, almost 6 years ago.

A lot has changed in the photography industry since.  We’ve seen smaller and more powerful cameras, better technology, cloud everything, and much more. But sadly, there’s one thing that hasn’t really changed … the prevalence, the outspokenness, the cruelty of online haters.

As we were doing our regular website cleanup, I stumbled on this article and thought that it was worth re-sharing as a reminder to NOT BE THAT GUY (or girl), to be civil, and to avoid the pitfalls of today’s online world.

What do you think? Have things gotten better in the last 5 years? Worse? Please let us know in the comments.

Original Article Below from 2012

There is a disturbing trend that is plaguing the photography industry. This phenomenon is the overall hating, disrespect and “trolling” behavior we are seeing in online educational communities and social networks (our own included). This behavior creates a negative environment where those with a genuine desire to learn and share become afraid to participate. After all, after seeing someone get torn apart without a shred of constructive critique, would you feel comfortable putting your ideas, images and questions up on the chopping block? We don’t expect this article to change the industry. But as SLR Lounge has grown (now surpassing over 160,000 monthly users) we want to make sure SLR Lounge remains a positive environment.

There are three factors contributing to this phenomenon:

1. Misdirected anger
2. The “elitist” mentality
3. Internet anonymity

1. Misdirected Anger


Many people feel that the photography industry is being destroyed by “weekend warriors, new photographers, low priced DSLRs, etc.” Some photographers blame their own failure or lack of success on outside factors, when in reality they can find their reason for failure simply with a little humble self-reflection and analysis.

I highly recommend an amazing book by Jim Collins called “Good to Great” where he analyzes the quality in the leadership of great companies. One of my favorite parts of that book is where Jim describes the “window and the mirror” effect. Basically it is to say, and I paraphrase, that “great leaders will look out the window with success, while looking in the mirror with failure.”

In every industry, over time the tools of production become more accessible as technology improves. While this forces us to adapt, it doesn’t change the overall need for photographers that can execute a vision, provide consistent professional quality work, communicate well, etc.

In fact, let’s try making some of these arguments in some other industries and see if they would fly:

“Inexpensive sports cars are destroying the careers of race car drivers, because now everyone can afford a cheap sports car to practice with.”

“Everyone is a professional basketball player these days, because everyone can play basketball anywhere.”

“Because everyone owns computers and laptops, we are all computer programmers.”

“I own a set of pots, pans and cooking utensils, therefore I am a professional chef.”

These arguments make no practical sense as there are not that many professional race car drivers, basketball players, programmers or chefs despite the fact that we all have access to these tools. The fact is that every industry goes through change as technology changes. For photographers, this means several things. Either your work needs to stand out, you need to be providing a better service, or you need to be the cheaper option. Whatever you choose, you need to have a competitive advantage to run a successful business; and how you sustain that competitive advantage is up to you.

I understand that running a business can be a very frustrating process, especially when you are not reaching your goals and dreams. But, you will never reach them by blaming others for your failure. Cameras and the overall tides of technological advancement will always continue to advance; pushing back is as futile as trying to stop a mighty river by standing in it. Instead, don’t fight it, move along with technology and find new ways you can utilize it to create a better and more differentiated product than your competitors.

2. Internet Anonymity


Another factor that contributes to all of this negativity is internet anonymity along with the lack of genuine social consequences. While walking along the street, you might see an image or piece of artwork and think it is complete garbage, but I don’t think anyone in their right minds would stop to tell the artist “your work sucks.” So why do we do it online?

Well, because of social anonymity, as well as the lack of genuine social consequences. In real life, such a statement could be followed by a vicious argument or even a fist fight. But, online you can mask your identity and make these statements behind the comfort of your LCD screen. Even on Facebook, where we see someone’s identity, there is still a lack of social consequence for being blatantly rude.

Imagine if every comment you made online required you to say the comment to the person face to face, would you still make the same comment? Would you find a more polite way to critique? Or would you just not say anything at all?

3. The Elitist Mentality




We define the “elitist” mentality as the thought that the only work worth merit is your own. While we all should have confidence in our work, there is difference in having confidence versus thinking everyone else’s work has no value or merit.

We shouldn’t overlook the value in other people’s work because of stylistic differences or simply because of our own pride. This is what we call the “elitist” mentality. The pitfall of this behavior is that it severely cripples one’s development and growth as a photographer because they refuse any outside influence or opinion which could greatly help one’s own growth. Each of the images shown above displays different types of photography, as well as different types of production styles. While you could say that you don’t stylistically agree with an image, or perhaps with the way it is produced, these are all very subjective statements and opinions. Each of the images above, and production styles will appeal to different people, but I guarantee that they will appeal to someone.

It is funny how many photographers absolutely abhor Instagram, but why? Obviously, there is a huge desire for this look as millions of people love and use the program on their images. We can lift our noses to the “toy camera effect” but doesn’t that just close us out from working with clients that want that “toy camera” look? I am definitely not saying that every image should have vintage toy camera filters applied to it; and if a client asked for that, I would say that it wouldn’t be a good idea as they might look back one day and regret it. We want to keep our images and effects non-dated and as timeless as possible. But, at the same time, I have seen a lot of images that work incredibly well with the vintage toy camera effect. Just because that effect has become “mainstream,” that doesn’t mean I should lift my nose to using it when a certain image or situation calls for it.

In general, if you don’t agree with someone’s work and if you can’t find a positive way to provide constructive criticism, then do as your mother would have told you and just “don’t say anything at all.” After all, what good does it do to attempt to tear someone else down without providing any sort of valuable feedback by just saying, “this is terrible,” or “that picture is crap.” These comments only serve to discourage the photographer, as well as alienate the commenter from the community as he/she is labeled a “troll” or “hater.”

Regardless of what type of photographer you are (landscape, wedding, sports, etc), you can draw inspiration and ideas from everyone and virtually anywhere. The sooner you can recognize the merit and value in other people’s work, the quicker you will grow yourself as a photographer.


This, unfortunately, is the current state of our industry. It is a state where our own images and style are the only ones that exist; a state where success is attributed to luck and the ease of purchasing a cheap DSLR; a state where failure is attributed to “weekend warriors destroying the industry”; a state where we can say anything we want to whomever we want online because there is no consequence for being unkind.

I am sad to say that this is the industry that I am a part of. It discourages me every time I attend trade shows like WPPI, PMA, etc. Because I see the look in people’s eyes as they look down upon other photographers who maybe shoot with different equipment, different styles, or belong in industries that some don’t consider to be “true photography.” Most of all, it saddens me because we are in an industry that would be so well served by each of us seeing the beauty in other people’s work; an industry where helping and lifting others would benefit others as well as ourselves in the long run by developing lasting relationships; an industry that could be so much more than it currently is.

I don’t expect this article to change the industry. In fact, I doubt that most of the offenders that I speak of would have even read or completed reading this article. But, I do intend on making a change here on SLR Lounge. Treat this article as a warning. The last thing we want is to moderate comments, and constructive criticism is always permitted and welcome on SLR Lounge. Comments like, “The skin tones in this image are terrible, I would have warmed it up, also watch out for those highlights!” is something we would consider a bit harsh, but overall constructive and is completely welcome. But, from here on out if we see comments or behavior that is not constructive or bears no use other than to just put others down such as “this image is garbage”, we will moderate and delete your comment. I can’t change the state of our sad industry, but I can make SLR Lounge a more open place for all of us to enjoy, inspire and educate one another.

Thank you!

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Bill Wells

    PART 1 (server limitations)

    I’m starting to do  some research into this issue and there are just a few things that need to be said.  It’s long but stay with me.Not all people are haters.  People sometimes, get frustrated when they see a valid issue and are ignored by their leaders or mentors.

    If your photography career started 15+ years ago, you did not experience the same thing photography start-ups are experiencing today.   Not even close.   If it was film when you started, without question you [nor I] experienced anything close.

    It’s time we realized that.  Then maybe these people who are sounding the alarm, just might have a point.  A solution is another issue.

    Just the surge in digital camera sales helps validate that.  

    If you look at bio of any of the top photographers it will read, “I started assisting and carrying  lights for [supply name].  I did that for two years, until I got to shoot 2nd at a few weddings…”

    That is the way I started, and like many others it was right after completing photography in college.  So the industry had an apprentice program if you will.  There is one change there.

    Today, a $399 camera and Photoshop = Professional Photographer.   We may question if that is actually correct but  to clients they are Professional Photographers.

    Here is what has happened to the industry.  

    Photographers have been devalued.  The perception is anybody can do it.  All you need is to buy a camera.  Why shouldn’t they think that most of them personally know 3 or 4 photographers.  We are just above Fast Food.

    I live in a small rural town in North Georgia.  I imagine most of you are from small towns as well.  Just a few years ago 20+, there were only 4 or 5 photographers [excluding JC Penny, Sears, etc…].  

    Today there are 200+ photographers, each with a FB page and samples.  Most charging $25 or less for a family/portrait session and $250 to $500 for Weddings.  I get that we all started somewhere but these are way under market.

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  2. Bill Wells

    PART 2 (server limitations)

    Where this becomes an issue is when it’s combined with the “anybody can do it perception”, “Good is good enough” and they acknowledge that more skilled photographers produce better images, but they also believe  the cheaper ones are not going to be trash.

     Even after the digital revolution started we sold a lot of sports prints.  We are in a small market but produced $40,000 per year in sports images alone.  We do not do sports (action) any longer.  

    In the last 5 years, the average from sports action shots is $3,000 to $4,000 per year.

    Why this big 90% decrease?  One reason is the shear number of photographers on the sidelines and even in the stands.  

    I have a friend that does awesome action shots.  So quality is not a solution.  The other photographers are selling their images for .49 cents and they are “Good Enough” 

    The new photographers had no connection with print labs so their solution was to provide digital files on CD/DVD.  Don’t think that affected you?  When was last time you sold any package that did not include digital files.  This trend started before the social media craze of today. 

     When it comes to Weddings, the county we live in will issue 263 marriage license in 2019.  We have 200+ photographers available to shoot those weddings.

    We will book very few of those because our prices are by far not the lowest.  That is fine for me, because I’m double retired and really don’t want to shoot a wedding every weekend. 

    Out of those 200 new photographers in our area, 170 – 180 will fail within a year.  The problem then becomes with 170 -200 new photographers that opens to fill their shoes. 

    Those photographers that fail are doing so because, they will never mentor with anyone in anyway, they will never pay for any training – they will never pay for anything.  They will not even invest in a website.  Using a free FB page instead.

    Most would not attending a training class, even if it were free, if it inconvenienced them. 

     I did a lecture and used a florist as an example.  An experienced florist, superior products and craftsmanship was a family business in a small town.  

    A new florist opened down the street, with promises of great things at a fraction of the price.

    The experienced florist knew that the new florist could not deliver and it took one year for that to prove true.  

    The experienced florists business was cut in half, but because they had a proven product they survived. 

     In a year the new florist closed. As expected.  But within a week another florist opened with new name, and same discounted prices and promises.  Plus another “discount florist” opened just a mile down the road. 

     The experienced florist was forced to cut their prices, hoping to hold on to their business.  For the second year in a row they were losing so much money they thought they might have to close.

    As expected in about a year both of those discounted florist closed.  

    But again, two new “discounted” florist opened in those exact same locations Plus a third discount florist opened about a mile in the other direction. 

     The experienced florist, with their superior service and quality craftsmanship could no longer keep their doors open. 

    The original article (while great) gave a number of examples like, racing, basketball etc…  All of those have qualifications or gates if you will, that people must make.  A loosing dirt track racer does not qualify to move up to NASCAR or a Basketball player that does not make tryouts will never play.   So the number of basketballs or sports cars makes no difference.  Same would be true for photographers.

     Photography does not have those “gates” to pass.

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  3. Bill Wells

    [Bill Wells has deleted this comment]

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  4. Don Risi

    I have seen and/or experienced this many times.  I’ve given up on the Miranda Forms because of this, and I know there are many others who have as well, for the same reason.  But it’s not limited to online haters.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a national park, and tried to engage fellow photographers in conversation, only to be snubbed.  I’m not part of whatever their exclusive little club is, so I’m ignored.   In one case, a  photographer snorted at me like I was some kind of fool, and stomped off.  All I said was, “Ah, a fellow Nikon shooter . . .”  In another case, I had a group of several who just turned their backs and walked away.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it was because, unlike them, my gear and I weren’t covered from head to toe in camo . . .  I could understand that last one if I had walked up on their blind and scared off some exotic animal, but we were in the parking lot . . .  It goes on and on . . .

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  5. michael stringer

    I find it sad that smartphones , may ruin GOOD TO FANTASTIC photography….If a stock agency does review 30,000 images a month…..are we too saturated ……  . WHY CANT A PHOTOGRAPH ( superb in every way  ) not be worth $100,000 . R.Bateman paints from photographs SUR REAL ISNT IT  !!( was 40-60,000$ per painting ….and yet … copies ( PRINTED )  made even more money . A song can make you famous….forget instagram famous crap .   PHOTO WASNT CONSIDERED ART ( a while ago ).  OH OH ; why cant there be POSITIVE THOUGHT < KIND WORDS<FELLOWSHIP among all peoples !!!!!!!mik/frm/cda/tm

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  6. Bill Wells

    This is a good article.  One of the things that make SLR Lounge different is the exchange of ideas.  Even if one agrees or disagrees. 

     We may never find a solution to many issues within the industry.  But I think sometimes [not all cases] it’s not actual haters as much as it is someone screaming to be heard.  

     We often  just ignore them and say, “it’s no big deal” or “it’s always been that way.  There are issues here as well as any industry and it’s the people on the front line that is trying to tell others what they are seeing.   

    Personally, I think we need to do a bit more listening [finger pointed at me] and a little less slamming of others.

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  7. Tom Rose

    “Haters are  destroying the photography industry”. It only seems that way in on-line forums.  And most of the hating seems to come from insecure types that need to have everyone agree with them.

    Most photographers, professionals and amateurs alike, take no notice.  They buy cameras that meets their needs (not the needs of some unknown internet troll), then they go and take/make photos with it.

    It is amusing that so many people think they know better than those clever designer, engineers and marketers at Canon and Nikon (as they get most of of the hate) who have studied their areas of expertise in depth and actually understand optics, digital imaging, colour science, ergonomics, and the rest and have devoted their lives to making (and selling) great cameras.

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  8. Sidney Albright

    Great read with so much truth. It’s even exist in some schools that teach photography. The school I graduated from made it part of their curriculum to harass older male students. They would attempt to discourage them entering the industry. I heard one teacher tell an older student, “You should consider your age and gender before entering photography.”    

     The main photography professors at that school  fostered an environment that created an elitist feeling among their pet students and the expense of other students which in turn would create fellow students who acted like internet trolls.  With this coming out a small  college awarding a photography degree it must be the times. It’s easy to see how Trolls are born…and as your article accurately states, they live safe in anonymity.    

     I love other photographers work. I feel inspired by them, not threatened.  The day I quit learning it the day they put me in the ground.  I believe the vast majority of photographers feel good about each other and foster good will. The trolls are like mosquitos. Elitist are mental cases. I appreciate other photographers who have helped me along the way and I feel sorry for those who have had their joy in photography  stolen. 

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  9. Linda Knight

    Good to read this. I am new here and really just a amateur. I am trying to learn more. I entered one of your contests and because some friends liked it, I was attack and accused of buying votes for a judged contest. It was a great welcome!
    I told my friends not to bother supporting me, the haters are out.

    What would have been nice, feedback for a newbie trying to learn.

    Thanks again for the article.

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  10. Ed Rhodes

    great read, and good discussion in the comments

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  11. Victor Zubakin

    Trolls belong under bridges – not on photography forums!

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  12. Laura Tenney

    Thank you Pye. I recently went pro and have learned so much from this forum! I love the positive, encouraging atmosphere here, that I don’t find a lot of other places; and I am so inspired by your work. I still have a lot of growing to do, but it is much easier, and more fun, to grow in a positive environment. Thanks!

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  13. Paul Tucker

    Good read. So true on the general gear-envy/hating cheap gear movement. Recently I spent hours talking with an amateur photographer – guiding him through “best bang for the buck” lenses and camera bodies. After much advice, he opted to get the camera body I recommended: The newer version of my own camera body.

    At any rate, he “thanked” me by posting online that “he loved his new camera body… it’s the ‘step up’ from Paul’s camera.” I only upgrade for quality, not for features – so I hadn’t felt the need to buy the newer ‘step up’ from my current body. After that comment though, I felt more than a little slighted; my knowledge and advice had been used and then abused, then I’d been publicly portrayed as inferior because of using an older camera. I’d been belittled when I was attempting to give another guy a start. I let it go as I reminded myself that gear doesn’t make the photographer… which, I felt confident, he would realize sooner or later.

    Poetic justice did occur though. After he completed a couple shoots with the camera and posted some of the pictures online, he complained that “I’ll have to get better with the camera, all my pictures seem to be slightly out of focus – I used Photoshop to sharpen them up.”

    Hmmm… good luck with that sharpening. PS: Try turning off some of your focus points…. eh, nevermind. :)

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  14. martin gillman

    Well said sir, from a fellow photographer and blogger .. Have shared

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  15. Brian Stalter

    A great article that I can relate to. It is interesting to see how much I have changed over the years – articles like this have helped me change for the better. Sometimes you don’t see your bad habits until you step back and view the situation from another perspective.

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  16. In Praise of Criticism | s.g.n.r. photo

    […] those of you who are interested in reading the entire article, you can find it online here, but a quick summary would look something like […]

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  17. Terrence

    Pye, thank you for writing this and taking a stand. I appreciate it.

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  18. John

    First of all – I don’t care if you can afford a McLaren F1! No Professional race care sanctioning body will allow you to race WITHOUT A LICENCE! How do you get one? You earn it by PROVING YOURSELF! Not by simply calling yourself a professional! Unlike the Photography industry!!

    So, you’ve got your camera, you’ve spent all this money on gear you may or may not know how to operate. You’ve photographed your kids, your dog, your neighbors, and some random girls that told you they were models. You’ve probably also made a Facebook Fan Page for your photography and now you call yourself a Professional Photographer.

    My only real issue… people who pawn themselves off as a pro with little to no real knowledge of photography and who have no real world experience. I have no problem with people learning and posting for an honest critique, but all I see around me are people who buy a camera, put up a Facebook page and call themselves a professional!

    I honestly believe that these people cheapen the industry as a whole bringing down the value of a REAL Professional Photographer.

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    • John

      From National Geographic – 2013

      With so many “photographs” on the Web every day, no one image gets to be special for long. Decades after the Vietnam War, Nick Ut’s photo of nine-year-old Kim Phuc, burning from napalm and running naked down a road, is still vivid in our imaginations. Eddie Adams’s image of a South Vietnamese general executing a Vietcong infiltrator changed the way the public saw the war and arguably affected the course of history.

      As the masses embrace photography and news outlets enlist citizen journalists, professional standards appear to be shifting. Before digital images most people considered photographs to be accurate renderings of reality. Today images can be altered in ways undetectable to the naked eye. Photojournalists are trained to accurately represent what they witness. Yet any image can be doctored to create an “improved” picture of reality. The average viewer is left with no way to assess the veracity of an image except through trust in a news organization or photographer.

      The slope gets slipperier still when even photojournalists start experimenting with camera apps like Hipstamatic or Instagram, which encourage the use of filters. Images can be saturated, brightened, faded, and scratched to create artful, hyper-real, and simulated-vintage photographs. Photographers using camera apps to cover wars and conflicts have created powerful images—but also controversy. Some worry that faux-vintage photographs romanticize war. With their nostalgic allusion to past wars, they risk distancing us from those who fight today’s wars. Such images may be more useful in conveying how the person behind the camera felt than in documenting what was actually in front of the camera.

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  19. barb

    To the haters I say this: Keep it to yourself. It’s ugly and makes you look bad. I think a lot of us have to deal with the green-eyed monster inside while growing up. Now that we are grown ups, we have to be PC. You have to hide that hate/jealousy/insecurity. Look it square it the eye, acknowledge it and conquer it each time it rears it’s ugly head. It takes but a moment of introspection. Then we can see clearly and be constructive. I love Pye’s suggestion of surrounding yourself with people to keep you humble, people who you can bounce with and people who you can help. Great read.

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  20. Rich

    Very well said! Like you said, criticism is good, even harsh criticism at times as it really makes you stop and take a look at what your doing but it really is a nasty community to be part of at times and its very hard to find social networking groups that don’t tolerate that kind of behaviour where you can share your work and know its going to be judged fairly without it erupting into a flame fest.
    All too often you read a good article on sites like this only to reach the comments and find its overrun with trolls who are only there to pull it to bits because it doesn’t align with their opinion. I’m personally glad to see SLR lounge taking a stance on it.

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  21. Michael

    Wow! I generally disregard most posts that are coming through my new feed everyday. Especially, from the big guys like SLR Lounge and others…you all know them. But wow! Seriously! What a great commentary on where we are and what we choose to bitch about. I am neither old school no new school. I assume that I’m some where in the middle. But I have to say that this is about the most refreshing look on our industry that I have ever seen. The barrier to entry is something that I hear a lot of my friends talk about all of the time. “Oh look! There’s another photographer in our market!” Who cares?
    If nothing else, I really get it with the basketball scenario. There was never a barrier there. When I was young, I would sneak out of my house at all hours of the night to go play basketball with my friends in the neighborhood. We did have a basketball. Pretty low entry into the game. What we didn’t have was a basket. So we nailed a bicycle rim to a light pole and that was our basket. We played and played for hours every night.
    Guess what? I never became a great basketball player. Fair enough.
    Let the kids come in with their iPhones and entry level DSLR’s and if they kick our ass. Then work harder! Shut up and stop bitching about them taking away your business. I just had this conversation the other day. Shut up! Seriously. Shut up! Figure it out and become meaningful.

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  22. Valerie

    I loved your article because it is exactly how a lot of people feel after discovering they have a talent with photography and would like to expand and increase in knowledge with that talent, but run into a lot of crabs in a bucket who would rather pull everyone down then help build them up so they can get out of the bucket and become better at what they have and do. I have enjoyed SLR Lounge just for this very reason and I feel that the people at SLR Lounge “get it”. You understand what it felt like to be at the very bottom of your knowledge, desiring to learn more and become better, but were unsure where to start. Not everyone has the money to take college classes, or even go back to college. At 38 years old, I discovered that I have a talent for photography that I never realized I had. To think about going back to college with 5 boys still at home is not a reality for me right now. But what is possible is to find helpful people and companies who are willing to help me educate myself and better myself so that I can become better at what I love doing. Will I one day be able to call myself a “pro”? I really have no idea. However, I do know that every person has a right to learn and grow and become better at what they love to do, no matter who you are or what your circumstances are. So I say THANK YOU to SLR Lounge, Sarah Petty, Doug Sims, and all those others out there who are willing to help build others, instead of putting them down. I took one photography class via my community continuing education in my area and the instructor (Doug Sims @Simspix) has gone beyond what was expected to help me become better. He is a very successful photographer who gives back to the community in many ways and isn’t afraid to teach others how to LOVE what they are doing and grow along their journey in life. Hats off to those who decide that they aren’t number one and aren’t better than anyone else around them. They are the real “pros” in my book. I will continue to follow and watch and learn from SLR Lounge and many others who bring people up and believe in sharing their knowledge with others.

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  23. Paul R. Giunta

    It is easier to tear someone/thing down that it is to build them/it up.

    Tune out the noise as much as you can. Do what makes you happy and what makes you feel creative. Screw what others think.

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  24. Ian

    An interesting article, but perhaps only a partial truth.

    Is is certainly true that the massive expansion of social media has meant that it is now possible to be a ‘keyboard warrior’ without fear of any comeback.

    It is also true that the massive expansion of affordable, and effectively free to run equipment has meant that anyone can call themselves a professional photographer without having any of the criteria that true professions have to have.

    Moreover, I would guess that the vast majority of ‘professionals’ would rail against the idea that they should go to university for three years and get a degree before they have the right to call themselves photographers.

    Yeah, there are haters, and there are photographers who thrust themselves forward without real talent, education or the authority of experience. If you can’t deal with the haters, then perhaps photographers should consider becoming professionals.

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  25. Tam

    Well done!!! Will be sharing widely, too bad the main perpetrators won’t read it :/

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  26. Rohn M Thurman

    Well said. Great article.

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  27. Lucy Bartholomew

    Great article Pye.. thank you!

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  28. RickyThao

    Hating usually stems from jealousy. Rather than hating another photographer for doing better work, my approach is to appreciate the photographer’s work and use it as a measuring stick for myself. On the flip side, if I see someone who is struggling with their photography, I try to direct them to here so they can buy the preset system and improve :)

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  29. Shutter Scene

    Great post! I think a lot of beginning people in the photo industry need to read this. Will be sharing this for sure. Thank you!

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  30. Anonymous

    You definitely hit the mark here, this is the kind articles that we need !

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  31. Rickirichardson

    wonderful article

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  32. Celestial Meeker

    As a successful wedding photographer I have an interesting view on this, since I learned from the ground up. As a newbie I got a Rebel and started shooting. I found out I had an “eye” and started charging small fees. As I upgraded, and had more experience, I raised my prices. I’m now sitting in a comfy spot of enjoyment and compensation. I say let the newbies be. They aren’t hurting you IF you’re good, and your price is fair for what you have to offer, you’ll be successful. BUT if you’re charging exorbitant prices, and thinking you’re better than everyone charging less, your business will die due to your attitude and unwillingness to change with the times. Maybe you can pick up a new hobby… and turn it into a business :)

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  33. The writer writes an article credited as “Pye” where one of the talking points is criticism of “Internet anonymity”,

    It’s a widely accepted fact that what is destroying the photography Industry is the overloaded marketplace. Overloaded with photographers that somehow think photography is easy now that they can have instant gratification on the back of the camera. 90% of new photographers don’t take any time to actually learn photography. It’s a quick fix and they will probably give it up right around the time they figure out that they are actually loosing money charging $50 for a session, because it was fun, and now it seems like work!

    Someone thinking that seasoned photographers are “elitist”, and don’t want to share, should try going up to anyone else in ANY other profession and asking for a free education. Next time you are at your doctor’s office, ask him to teach you everything he knows, because you think it is cool and you want to be a part time doctor.

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    • hck

      Sorry but I need to point something out and maybe it’ll make it clearer. Mr.Pyes’ critism was not on Internet anonymity itself but rather on how people hide behind the fact that they’re anonymous and act negatively with no regard for any contribution. Therefore, I don’t believe that he is suggesting that internet anonymity is wrong or should not exist at all but that we shouldn’t abandon our manners just because we’re “invisible” on the internet. Thank you.

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  34. PhotoBiz

    Interesting perspective on the issue… however it’s MUCH larger than just a couple people with ego’s hating on newbies. How about looking at it from a different perspective to understand what is happening in this industry as a whole, from the BUSINESS side.

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  35. Nevaleelooney

    I appreciate your timely article; well written and addresses prejudices that I have seen in the industry. I’m learning photography and have been sadden by the hostility from some in the industry. Yet I am encouraged by many other professionals who are freely sharing their knowledge to help new photographers improve their skills & talent. Every photographer rather a seasoned professional or a new comer shares the same humble beginnings: a passion and admiration for beautiful photography. Some for career goals; others for the sheer joy it brings to them personally. The industry will only grow stronger as people are educated in photography excellence.

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  36. Monica

    Wow loved this post. Learned a lot and it was funny. !

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  37. Eileen Cote

    Nicely written. I was a hairdresser for many years, You have always been able to buy hair color products, scissors, clippers and so on at every store you walk into.  When I hear a photographer complain about the weekend worrier I just have to laugh and say do something that makes you stand out and stop complaining.  I was the soccer mom, and I have worked hard to learn my photography skills to get where I am today.  It’s about constant reinventing.  Every business has to do this.  Those who don’t will fall behind.

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  38. Chris Pickrell

    “In fact, let’s try making some of these arguments in some other industries and see if they would fly:

    “Inexpensive sports cars are destroying the careers of race car
    drivers, because now everyone can afford a cheap sports car to practice
    “Everyone is a professional basketball player these days, because everyone can play basketball anywhere.”

    “Because everyone owns computers and laptops, we are all computer programmers.”

    “I own a set of pots, pans and cooking utensils, therefore I am a professional chef.””
    A: The sports car analogy is off, because sports cars and race cars, couldn’t be more different
    B: No, this isn’t true.
    C: Are you selling your programming skills for cheap?
    D: Are you selling your cooking skills for cheap?

    You’re ignoring the fact that some people do in fact do this on the cheap.

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  39. jude

    Oh thank god someone else finally said this. I’ve been bitching about others bitching about photography for a while now. Apparently since I was using ‘complaining’ to prove my point, others said my point had no validity. Ha. Now that you wrote this there’s FINALLY legitimacy to my claim. I’ll just go use this to bash everyone I know now. ;) (Just kidding….or am I? Bahaha…)

    Thanks for the article. It was definitely what people have been thinking!!!

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  40. Thomas Greenman

    A great read.  Like any business, you should know your customers and cater to their needs and wants.  Chances are, you’re not selling to other photographers.  So what if you get criticized for your work?  Anytime you are in the public eye this will happen.  As long as your customers or user base is happy, why worry?

    As a so called “weekend warrior” myself, I have the luxury of being able to take the jobs I want and pass on the ones I don’t.  If you don’t like my shooting style, let me help me you find someone that might suit you better.  Photography is an art to some, and everyone has a different taste for art.

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  41. CD

    Great statement Pye. A young gal, an intern where I work in exhibition design, comment yesterday that many of the professionals who have come to critique their work (at the Corcoran, no less) have made similar, un constructive comments during critique. “I don’t like it”, not how or why. I think many engage in such behavior out of an illusion that they’re special, and simple laziness. And perhaps, they too don’t benefit from constructive critique….

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  42. Anonymous

    “weekend warriors, new photographers, low priced DSLRs, etc.” in a way that complaint is as old as photography. Go to Google books, look at some of the photography books and magazines from a hundred years ago; the words might be different but the sediment is roughly the same. There is art in photography, and art is a creative process . . . so I guess a little ego baggage should be expected. That is not necessary a bad thing, when coupled with wisdom.

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    • Rocky

      “sediment is roughly the same”

      The loose particles of rock, silt, and sand are roughly the same?

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    • Doc Pixel

      ^^^ Good post! When are “pro” photographers going to realize that they’re just one of many creative art forms; and that music making, graphic arts, architecture, film, acting, comedy and even painting have already went through this…. and still are going through this as technology becomes democratized and ever more powerful, allowing more people to explore their creative sides.

      It’s all about the final art piece and whether YOU are happy with it, and someone else is willing to pay you for it. If you can be consistent in your style, make the buyer connection often enough, you might be able to live from it.

      The creative arts will ALWAYS and forever be subject to individual tastes, unfair and unintelligent criticism. Sometimes even life threatening. The hecklers, haters and pitchfork crowd are not new. It just seems like it is because so many people don’t know history or delve into any of the other art forms.

      And about that “pots-n-pans don’t make a chef” quote: well yes they do if someone thinks what comes out of them is worth eating and paying for. Not everyone enjoys cuisine or macro-gourmet, do they? In a clique I’m in we have one guy that is always being prodded to open a restaurant. Is he a “chef”? No… but he sure can give some others we know a run for their money.

      I think everyone has an example of the above in “other” creative endeavors, whether music, cooking, or even riding a bike and knitting, and if you’ve been around the Internet long enough, you will see that everything from “too much salt, not enough pepper”; “their early work was their best, this is trash”; and “his double-loop was flawed, he’s such a poser”… to “she only wins awards because she sleeps with the jury” comments and critiques.

      Last word: if you want to enjoy being an artist, you better love it… and have very thick skin. The “skin tone” makes absolutely no difference whatsoever!

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  43. Susan Helmuth

    I have been in the industry for 30 years both as a photographer and in imaging(running a lab). It has changed a lot! I believe that I am never too old to learn new things nor am I beyond learning from young less experienced photographers. The imaging industry is moving toward self service and less technicians are available or needed. I also believe that while it helps to have good equipment it is not always needed to produce an exceptional image. Understanding of lighting and composition is as important(maybe even more so). I have even seen phenomenal images come from One Time use Cameras. It is a shame that some people can be so closed minded and snub nosed to think that unless you have the best equipment you can’t be a good photographer. And many times less is more. Any one can take a picture but not everyone can create a great Photograph. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if digital has contributed to this in a big way. Instant gratification has taken most of the artistry out of photography. Great Photographs still take time, patience and a little luck!

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  44. Jason

    This article is very true. I posted a photo I did of a county courthouse in an online photography forum of a well known photographer and recieved mostly criticism. However, the chamber of commerce for the county asked to use the photo in mailings they do. It also recieved a lot of praise from others and will be one of my feature prints at a showing this fall. Not bad I think.

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    • Mike

      First off Photography is an Art, so everyone has their own ideas and preferences, as long as you like your images, then it doesnt matter what anyone else thinks, but there will be others out there that like them as well as others that dont.
      You can have an image that people like, even though there may be technical or compositional “errors”
      Congratulations on getting your image used in the mail-outs :)

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  45. Madowstone

    I am a hater,too. I had this people winning every contest just by taking pictures of their cute pets and adding predefined ps or picasa or whatever filters while I am getting up at 3:00 from basecamp to climp a fuckin montain to film some dangerous bears at -25c….

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  46. Jeffsiegrist

    Great article. Thanks very much.

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  47. Angie Dutton

    Very well said. I’m a serious hobbyist and by no means a pro, but someday I want to be. However, I do find myself having great reservations about posting my photos in the social internet world for review or critique, precisely for the reasons you have mentioned. What I need and want is mentoring, not criticizing. The feeling I get from many pros is sort of a “go play with your toys and leave this important work to us” feeling. I actually have very high quality gear and glass and have been taking photos for over 20 years, so I have a pretty good eye for art as well. It’s frustrating trying to make that transition from serious hobbyist to pro without someone looking down their nose at me. :(

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  48. Anonymous

    Great  post.
    One thing I think you left out is the democratising  aspect.  Embracing the opportunity for all is not easy for some people, myself included. If you have worked hard to acquire skills, seeing a computer doing your stuff better must be sad.  Maybe  we should take the Hippie approach, be happy that everybody now can shoot a technical good image and focus on making our pictures touch peoples hearts, Peace, love and there’s always  a darkroom somewhere.

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  49. Reneefieldsphotography

    Wow!  I just commented a couple months ago about this very thing as I had experienced a combination of all three of these kinds of issues when I posted photos from the first wedding I’d ever photographed and some of the (experienced and those I looked to for advice etc) forum members came at me with exactly these kinds of attitudes.  I haven’t been back since. 
    Excellent article, very relevent.

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  50. BellaVida

    Very nice read.

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  51. John Hill

    Thank you for your thoughts about the state of modern day photography! I share many of your statements. I have been 40 years in this business and I am continually amazed by the number of instant professionals that I meet and more amazed at the amount of people who actually pay for their services. Perhaps this is just a bump in the time we live in and maybe in a few years people will again look for and seek out the schooled and trained that understand what shutter speeds, apertures and ISO really are and how they are used in harmony with light and composition.

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    • Chris Johnson

      A little elitist here in your comment, sad to see this, especially after reading the article.

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  52. Matt Lasher

    Great article. I’m new to photography and have found few places socially to openly exchange ideas about work. As a professional in other areas collaboration has been the tool to bring skill to the next level.

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  53. Raffaella De Amicis

    Brilliantly well put. I especially like the analogies for athlete/chef/etc, as well as the section covering elitism.

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  54. kaygeebee

    Thanks for your message! The thing is, your opinion extends to everyday life as well. I think we all need to learn how to be more positive and giving again. Only when we work together do we achieve greatness.

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  55. Joe Gunawan

    On the whole elitist part:
    As a fashion and commercial photographer, I have been going against the grain by not shooting with a Nikon or a Canon. But you can see from my work that just because I shoot with a Panasonic GH2, it doesn’t mean that my work is inferior because it’s not shot with a more “professional” caliber camera.

    It’s like a quote that I came across one time: “A camera is like a guitar, just a box with a whole in it. It makes noise until an artist picks it up and makes beautiful music with it.”

    So it doesn’t matter if it’s a guitar handed down from Jimmy Hendrix or one from the local music store, how you play it is what matters, just like how an Instagram or a GH2 can still create amazing photographs in the right hand.

    – Joe Gunawan |

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    • Ryan Cooper

      I agree, while I love my Nikon if I were to start over today from scratch the Panasonic M4/3 line would absolutely be the direction I take. Those cameras are great and in the hands of someone with talent they clearly shine just like.

      Sensational portfolio by the way. 

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    • Lee Sadler

      mind = blown

      I love that quote, thanks Joe

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  56. Jeff Jochum

    Thank you for taking the time to express sanely what many of us say to each other everyday. And, don’t underestimate the power of clarity. I spend everyday working to improve the happiness and success of pro photogs, and I know you can’t change the industry as a whole, just one mind at a time. To that goal, well done.

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  57. Anne Ruthmann

    If you don’t read blogs or message boards, all you worry about is yourself and your own self-improvement.  Funny how little anger you have to experience when you just stick to being the best you can personally be. ;-)

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  58. Loren Scott

    Good article overall.  The only critique I’d give is that the comparisons to other professions is not really an apples-to-apples comparison due to the public perception of what constitutes a “professional” within that industry. Using your examples, not many people are going to confuse someone who buys a cheap sports car for a professional race car driver. And nobody is going to assume a guy is a professional basketball player, just because he’s playing basketball at a park. And nobody is going to mistake someone for a professional chef just because they own a set of pots and pans. And, I’m sure most people know that just owning a computer (as almost everyone already does), does not mean you know how to program one. However, we DO see people all the time buy a prosumer DSLR, put up a web site, buy some business cards and most definitely be accepted by the common consumer for a “pro” photographer. This is easily done because, if a monkey randomly shoots 1000 images, they’ll end up with at least a dozen that look awesome to stick on their web site. This is not SO bad in the portrait market.  However, in my specialty of wedding photography, I do pity the unsuspecting bride who has her big day ruined by an inexperienced “wedding” photographer who is in way over their head. This is (or should be) a REAL concern.

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    • Jeff Jochum

      Loren, I increasingly hear this “beware of having your day ruined” story, and as a result, I spend a fair amount of my energy searching the webs for these stories… In truth, I’ve found a few. However, considering there are 2 million weddings photographed every year in the US, if this were really a trending problem, I wouldn’t have to look so hard. I think this is a boogie man argument that actually has little basis in reality, and is useful to create fear in the marketplace as a way of blocking newcomers. In truth, there’s plenty of work to go around for everyone. :)

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    • Joe Gunawan

      I do agree in regards to how the perceived value of “photography” as a profession has steadily declined to the regular consumer in part to the accessibility of prosumer DSLR. Even today, I had a prospective client who emailed me for a headshot session for his business website. I told him that it would be $400 for the session, including retouching. Within hours, he emailed back and said his friend can do it for free. For me, I can neither do it for free or for very little money because my time and talent has value and I have to stand up for that.

      I asked him to check on his friend’s portfolio and ask about his lighting and retouching technique, as well as to take a look at my website.

      – Joe Gunawan |

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    • Aleksandar

      I think you are not right. Most of the professions can be compared apples-to-apples when it comes to start of negotiating business and doing business. Anyone can represent him self as a world class chef if he’s got necessary equipment to show off. If a person chooses some fool to cook for him just because he’s got cook’s hat and French accent, let him have it! One of the problems in the photograph “industry” (too heavy word), that you missed here, is that before you needed more guts to start photography business. It took more money to do so and only ones who were sure they have knowledge and expertise needed for the job, started it. Now that the good equipment is available to almost everyone, it’s not just that you have more idiots shooting around aimlessly. You also have much more talented people in the business, with not just good equipment at their hands, but also easy way to educate them selves. The competition got bigger, faster, stronger. So if you want make a good living out of photo business, you just need to rise above your competitors. It’s just like in professional sports, web design or any other line of work.

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  59. Mary H

    Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Pr 16:24

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  60. Maritha Sears

    Thanks Pie for posting this. This is SO GOOD! Thanks for being such a positive rolemodel in the community.

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  61. Anonymous

    Excellent post! I applaud your efforts and hope it creates a ripple effect that keeps going…

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    • Pye

      Thanks aj! If everyone spreads the word and shares the article, I think we can make a difference. Appreciate everyone’s support. 

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  62. Rob

    I live and operate my business in a very competitive small market.  There is a ton of fantastic talent here and I’ve become friends with alot of them.  You have to come to the realization that you’re not going to get every job, and if you work together and trade work off when you’re busy or unavailable you’ll all grow from it.  Fighting amongst yourselves not only degrades your quality of work, it degrades your enthusiasm and your drive to continue to produce.  Thanks for this article, I think it really hit the nail on the head.

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  63. Anonymous

    I don’t really support this mentality I mean I think that you are right people that are only rude with out any kind of constructive feedback are wrong, but from that to start deleting they comments…, the nice thing about the internet is that you have all this interaction and perhaps something that you find offensive is exactly what other people need to move on, there will be always rude people in the world I have clients telling me that my pictures, my logo and my way of speaking sucks in my face and without any consideration that’s life, and you cant control it only learn to deal with it, also this is nothing new before there was internet you really thing that photographers were nice to each other? this is not destroying the industry there always will be rude people in the world you decides if that let you down or not

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    • Pye

      The thing is, we are not a news network, sports website, or anywhere else where opinions are simply opinions. We are an educational community. If you were sitting in a classroom, and your teacher asked you to show your homework and then told you in front of everyone, “geez, that was absolutely horrid, are you serious?” These types of statements would completely kill the educational environment. Students would no longer freely share, or desire to participate. We never want to moderate, and as long as a comment holds some value, we will never remove it. Saying things like, “These skin tones look terrible, I would have warmed it up more.” is totally fine and is what we consider “constructive criticism.” But, saying “this is garbage” is not helpful in any way, and it simply destroys the learning and sharing environment.

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    • Pye

      The thing is, we are not a news network, sports website, or anywhere else where opinions are simply opinions. We are an educational community. If you were sitting in a classroom, and your teacher asked you to show your homework and then told you in front of everyone, “geez, that was absolutely horrid, are you serious?” These types of statements would completely kill the educational environment. Students would no longer freely share, or desire to participate. We never want to moderate, and as long as a comment holds some value, we will never remove it. Saying things like, “These skin tones look terrible, I would have warmed it up more.” is totally fine and is what we consider “constructive criticism.” But, saying “this is garbage” is not helpful in any way, and it simply destroys the learning and sharing environment.

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  64. Bob Mulholland

    I appreciate this article. I believe it applies to every facet of the Internet and not just photography. I find myself guilty of it as well and wish to stop. I still haven’t figured out “why” many of us do this. I believe it’s a growing disconnect with fellow human beings. I’ve been involved with technology since I was 12 and I’ve watched it erode human bonds more than bring us together for the most part, unfortunately. Thanks for reminding me through this article that I can change.

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  65. Kim

    A couple other photography blogs I follow have had to post similar articles lately. It is indeed sad but I applaud you taking a stand against rudeness and unproductive criticism. I work in Employee Relations for a well-known national retailer and it is astounding the number of investigations and issues that into the workplace because of the lack of social accountability and consequences.

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  66. Heartfeltgreetings

    Thank you for taking a stand! I agree 100 percent!

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  67. Dave_harmon

    Well said.  When I joined my local ppa chapter years ago I was astounded by how helpful everyone was.  They wanted to help you grow as a business person and photographer, all the while knowing we all started somewhere and we have lots of room to grow. 

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  68. James Robertson

    This touches on quite a few points I’ve been discouraged about with our industry for the past several months, good to know I’m not the only one, especially with the online anonymity, photography forums are insane.

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    • Pye

      Yes, from here on out we will be moderating as this issue really destroys the environment. It is sad to have to be so protective of ourselves because of other people’s disrespect. Funny thing is, most of the offenders are themselves not professionals, nor do they have good portfolios, or anything. They just hate to hate. 

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    • James Robertson

      A lesson I picked up fast from photography forums..look for the person’s past work. It’s amazing how many people are willing to identify flaws in work that exceeds everything in their portfolio. I’m also really frustrated by how these people only list negatives, it really gives an impression that the photo all together is crap when no positives are identified.

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    • Martin Sloan

      I have seen this jealous and petty behavior and I am very happy to have seen this article. Thank you for standing up to the haters! I have several neices and nephews, and a step daughter who has an awesome eye, I intend to give DSLRs to them for Xmas. Also, in the words of Jack Lemmon always help the new people joyously they may help you someday. Cheers and remember we can all study the images of others. Honestly there are some images I am really impressed by out there… Oh and this may sound sort of a little too magnanimus from a nobody… Maybe I am not… Be happy, click, and share…

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