There are a lot of photographers, amateur, semi-professional, professional, good, fair, terrible, gifted, or any other description you can come up with. The arrival of digital photography opened the doors for a veritable flood of "photographers". Nowadays, anybody who can push a button at the same time as looking through a viewfinder or into an LCD screen can be a photographer. I welcome this, because I love photography. I remember the old days when I used to stumble around in a darkroom, knocking things over and reeling in the smell of the chemicals. Printing photos under red lights, like a character from an old Frankenstein movie, hoping that at least ONE of the photos on my roll of 36 would turn out half decently. From the crushing disappointment of finding 36 crap photos to the elation of finding three or four terrific pics on a roll, photography was a heady, roller coaster ride of all sorts of emotions. I loved it.
Then came the digital age. My trusty darkroom was consigned to the dark ages. Fixers, developers, enlargers, all were disposed of. My darkroom became a store room. My much loved Canon A1 was wrapped in a good soft cloth (read tea towel stolen from my wife), and placed into a bottom drawer where it still resides, hopefully not crusty, dusty, or rusty.
First item on my shopping list was a Fujifilm DSLR. 8 MILLION pixels of the latest technology. My old desktop was taken to a computer whizzkid who installed PhotoShop on it. A CF card and a card reader were purchased. I was ready to enter the digital age.
So off I went, hired a model, took some shots - lingerie if I remember correctly. I followed the digital trend and posted some of the pics on a networking site. Big mistake! It was my first experience of the "keyboard warrior"...
Now I welcome OBJECTIVE criticism as much as anybody else. It can be a very useful learning tool. But the barrage of insults, cheap comments, and abuse that I received shocked me. And to this day I'm sometimes shocked by this apparent lack of respect for a person's efforts over the internet.
I've adopted a different stance nowadays. I used to fight back, but fighting an online clique can be a dead end alley. Unless a person specifically asks for feedback or critique, I only say nice things about photos that I like. If I like a photo, I'll say WHY I like it. If I don't like a photo, I'll say absolutely nothing about it.
One mistake that I made in the early years was taking the comments of the nasty idiots personally. And I gave as good as I got. This only brought me down to their level. I don't do that anymore. Now I ignore them.
I found that being NICE was a good way to make friends on the net. Friends who will support me when I need it, and friends who will offer only genuine and helpful critique. Friends that you can actually meet in person and enjoy a pint of beer with. And learn from.
The lesson that I learned - the HARD way - was to be NICE.
It's so much easier and satisfying than causing grief, and in return receiving grief. And the negative people? I simply ignore them. Have nothing more to do with them...
So, why not be nice?