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News & Insight

The Real Lingering Damage Of Negative Posts You Hadn’t Thought About| Simeon Quarrie

By Kishore Sawh on November 30th 2014

What’s the damage that comes from really negative posts in response to work presented online?

That’s the question posed to Simeon Quarrie to which he felt compelled to answer even while on location shooting. It’s a question many of us who produce and share our artistic produce conjure in our heads, because there is really no escaping negativity online. It can be useful, but overwhelmingly, it’s not presented in that way, or doesn’t come from a place where ‘help’ is really the force behind it.


Simeon speaks from his own experience and perspective, which is one of much more publicity than most (see some of his beautiful and unique work here), but the points he makes apply across the board. He says his work is typically posted to his Facebook, site and blog, and then of course, many other blogs and sites such as SLR Lounge and Fstoppers. While the response to his work is mostly positive, there are still the trolls who seem to be unavoidable. Trolls, he defines as, those who are negative for the purpose of being negative – for being defamatory and lowering self esteem of the artist and those involved.

These people often hide behind the curtain of anonymity that’s afforded to them by the internet, and often have no discernable skill or talent themselves. One can assume their comments are also self serving as a way to possibly make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings.


[REWIND: BTS Video Of A First Class Pre-Wedding Shoot: ‘Released By Love’]

It’s worth mentioning that sometimes some of what they say does have some validity, or at least they may touch upon something that could do with improvement. This is, perhaps, the most interesting part because it seems they often forget, too, that what they see is a final product, with little to no understanding of the environment or challenges present at the time of shooting. When they critique the look of someone in the shoots, they fail to acknowledge that often that is an everyday person, who could be presenting the best version of themselves, and still are being ripped apart. The troll fails to think what the starting point was to see how far the team had to come to produce the finished product.

Furthermore, Quarrie touches on the financial side of things. He points out that clients are often seeing the negative comments, and reputation stands for a lot in terms of the ongoing success of a business. So the negative comments have the potential to dry up the income for the creative, which is unnecessary. The point of critique should be improvement, so Quarrie suggests that a personal direct message will have a far more positive effect, and may warrant proper thanks, rather than tearing down someone publicly without knowing the whole story.


We have touched upon this subject a few times here, and probably will do again since the problem doesn’t go away and instead evolves. You can see our thoughts on basic critique here, and Pye’s heavy thoughts on negativity in the industry here.

This video was presented by Dave Kai Piper and you can find Dave’s thoughts on the matter and more from him on his site. See more from Quarrie all over the Internet, but start with the site of his brilliant company VIVIDA, and Facebook.

Also make sure to check out our Constructive Critique section to get some critiques on your images that will help you learn and improve your craft.

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.

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tosh Cuellar

    Great article, stay humble and stay hungry.

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  2. frankie b

    There are times when people post comments that are not considered supportive of the current topic at hand. Those people are not all trolls. This is a welcome topic of discussion but a completely lopsided “spun” point of view. Sometimes criticism, I take that back, criticism always brings about discussion. Albeit, it should be constructive. If someone posts a critical comment about lighting done by whoever this guy is, he’s paying attention to it. He’s admitting there are flaws and correct observations made by his “troll”. To me the sad bit is the afterthought where he compares himself to the critic and then promotes himself again and again. This is the problem. If you put yourself on an open stage you will get heckled. If you say you are cool enough to deal with the heckling, then so be it. But when you post a response like this with your legs spread open, camera positioned downward and then kind of say I know you were right about some stuff but look at me and where are you… whoever this guy is comes off as a contradictory version of what he wants to be. When this guy talks about how these criticisms could possibly affect his relationship with his client he should be aware that he has undoubtedly entered into a contract that specifies that he’s doing this job because his clients are paying for some of his exposure. His arrogant refusal to acknowledge this point is extremely poignant, and again is a complete oxymoron considering he said that some of his critics were correct in their observations. Then there is the part where he is defending the fact that critics of his work do not understand that he is not always working with models. He is working with everyday people. Well, due to his relationship with sponsors those everyday people are getting prime exposure, which is his ultimate goal for his work, so I’m not entirely sure why he or his sponsors haven’t thought about the fact that generally speaking (has anyone read any news feed or entertainment feed in this industry) people are judgmental when it comes to images presented to them as consumption via deity-like imagery. When as he put it we should be sensitive, because all it take sis one thread one comment, HE should remember that he’s there not for only his ability to manipulate light, but his ability to pull attention from those that want to sell things. That is what he is fearful of losing ultimately. His sponsors. “Why not send any critique directly through a private message?” is a sign that he would like to learn through you! You the critics! You the quote unquote trolls! This is FANTASTIC! I am someone that has been called a troll on this site and I fully appreciate this photographer opening up the can of worms that he did. I bet his photos are awesome, but his crotch level response that he chose to make a big deal about isn’t. By the way, isn’t being critical part of a 101 class in any higher education school for a reason? In all honesty, why is this site even here if constructive criticism is not allowed? I’m pretty sure this site was created to spread ideas among photographers and to encourage photography and photography techniques. It’s insulting to have to listen to crotch-level banter from someone that uses the site to work out his personal issues/failures/promotion via demonizing rightful critics. This guy is basically saying that because he’s had some success that he is impervious to being criticized. Why not make a video saying you’re a baller and this is how the ballers play? Oh wait, that’s why the camera is not up in your grill, it’s in your crotch. SPADE.

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  3. norman tesch

    i retired to a small town. i have had the hardest time getting work here yet there are photographers that are booked till next year and their work is really poor. i was told for some jobs they didnt hire me because they “dont know me” i also recently found out people thought i worked with a photographer which i dont. i know people find the other photographer expensive. so that may have kept them away. or what i think happend they went to that studio and asked for me said i was unavailable but i can shoot it.

    i have come to the conclusion that i dont care if they clear a million dollars a year. but as a photographer and by my standards if they ask me what i thinki will tell them. i wont nit pic for color or an action that is on every photo but more when heads and feet are cut off, out of focus, blurry. plus its kinda funny that they dont hire you but ask you what you think?

    as for beeing a troll like everyone we all have an agenda. i think what seperates an actual critique is weather or not you are a person in the field and if you would say it to my face. i have had people say my photo was bad. i just offer them opertunity to come where i am shoot same subject and show me what i am know they never respond so that validates they are just being a dirt bag. people seen the comment they made, my responce and then again their lack of comment..they showed their colors to the world

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  4. Dave Kai Piper

    Cheers Pye !

    It was a an interesting point to get into for sure.


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  5. Gustavo Urena

    I mean I understand that as creatives we don’t like to get bad commend about our work because it really can cripple future possibilities. But I also think that hey we don’t have any control on somebodies opinion and they will commend base on their status. This is the reason why I stop reading commends every time I post something online or in my blog. Positive commends are great but there will always be that troll that can stop your creativity…. that if you let them. It’s a waste of energy to pay attention to that.

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  6. Pye

    Really great points and great write up. I agree 100% on Dave’s thoughts on the matter. It can be very detrimental, not only to the artist but to the clients whos images are “bashed” online.

    I can’t count how many times I have talked to incredible photographers, asked them to share and educate online only for them to say that they are “scared” of what people will say.

    Useless negatively only forces artists to stop sharing, stop educating and just merely go on serving their clients. That’s why we try to so hard on SLR Lounge to educate on what is proper CC versus useless trolling. But, it is something we will always have to be on the watch for.

    Thanks for the article!

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  7. Eric Sharpe

    Luckily, I’m not popular enough, or good enough to be trolled. I’d imagine is frustrating having to deal with it.

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    • J D

      I’m with you. Hurray for mediocrity.

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    • Chuck Eggen

      Me as well Eric. I’m sure if I had a website it would attract trolls with my level of work…

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  8. Ben Perrin

    Unfortunately there’s very little to be done about it. I’d delete useless comments like that on my website if I ever got any but I certainly wouldn’t delete a post just because it had some negative component. Websites like SLR Lounge do a great job of fostering a positive community whilst still encouraging critique and growth. Unfortunately the larger you get the more trolls seem to get attracted. It’s why I don’t visit fstoppers much anymore. The comments seem to be full of negativity for the sake of it.

    One feature I really like is the profiles. It just means that if you are going to leave a negative comment I’ll always go to your profile first to see if you have the ability to back up your words. Unfortunately the trolls tend to have no profile or no link to a website.

    Anyway, thanks to Simeon for sharing both his work and thoughts on the matter. Much respect to you mate for what you do. Try to ignore the trolls and keep doing what you love. The rest of us appreciate it!

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  9. Paul Bretherton

    Simeon is a really cool guy very creative with awesome talent. Great article.

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  10. John Cavan

    The troll for the sake of the damage is an omnipresent reality of the Internet and the lack of consequences. However, it really is hard to be truly anonymous on the Internet, more so than most people realize and this can catch up to the troll. I like the possibility of that karma quite a bit…

    In any event, if you have the will to do it, the “John and Jane Doe Lawsuits” that can be used to compel a service provider to release information is something that can be used. I realize that not everybody has the means and the will to do this, but it would be great if it happened more often. That might start to put an end to that sort of nonsense.

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  11. Dave Kai Piper

    Cheers for sharing this out. I was an interesting one to write for sure.

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