Remember that "Constructive" Photo Critique You Made? This is How You Sound

When reading comment sections on photography blogs or on photography groups, I often get the feeling people always think they are better than everyone else. People go on rants with heinously bad comments about photos they don't like and degrade anyone who is creating art that they might not even understand. Many times photographers feel like they give constructive criticism when the opposite is often more true.

When I watched this video it reminded me pretty much any comment section on the internet. Rants like this are something that have become very common on the internet (always easier to say nasty stuff behind the keyboard and not face to face), but when you see it like this in real life, you understand how absurd it can sound. Watch this video and any time you're about to write a comment about a photo, about a photographer or about a project. Remember: you don't want to be that person.

Be nice to others, even if it's from behind the keyboard.

Noam Galai's picture

Noam Galai is a Senior Fstoppers Staff Writer and NYC Celebrity / Entertainment photographer. Noam's work appears on publications such as Time Magazine, New York Times, People Magazine, Vogue and Us Weekly on a daily basis.

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get a haircut.

Man I wished I was amused by this... erm... dude slash woman? But it's actually quite sad to watch and in a depressing kind of way very intimate. All I can hear is his/her self-hate, dispair, resignation, failure in life and anger at everyone around her. I can't help it, I wish her closure and peace.

My thoughts exactly. What a miserable existence.

Completely agree. This is a person yelling at a convenient target about their own disappointment in themselves. Just sad. Now that I think about it all too common in the internet message boards too.

is it or isn't it??? Only the bra knows!

Based on the comments I read on these fstoppers posts, I've come to the conclusion that fstoppers readers must be top notch professionals who have absolutely perfected their craft and have nothing to learn from anyone or any of these fine articles that you post.

Here here

This is a prime example of someone who has never had their ass beat for being a crappy human. It only needs to happen once. =P I wonder what sparked this vicious verbal attack though. Maybe He/She/It asked nicely if he could play softer or something and the guy was mean to Her/Him/thingie.

Yeah, I was wondering too how this all came about. The irony is that the ranter is going off about how the musician is ruining the atmosphere of the place with his music, but has no idea that his rantings are even worse.

[ . ]

Why is Danny Devito so angry?


He sounds like something came out of a Woody Allen movie.

Funny video, but a good message from you Noam. Cheers.

Might be worth putting NSFW in the title ;)

NSFW usually refers to visual nudity or violence not language. Just put headphones on.

"Usually", but it would be a nice thing to warn people. Also, NSFK or *Language*. Just saying.

Stop being so PG-13 all the time.

TV shows have a rating system that shows before a program and every time it comes back from commercial...parents still complain. If NSFW was in the title, there would be people complaining that it's not NSFW. No one wins ever in these sorts of things.

some people don't want to hear the language, headphones won't help with that

So just quite life if everything is a problem

So I have to be more rational than the psycho in this video? Got it!

I think someone needs a Snickers

LOL!! "You get a little self-righteous when you're hungry."

I feel like a lot of people that post destructive comments, really have a problem with the photo they see but they don't know what it is exactly. Or they don't know how to express it. So they just do what they do and be destructive. Maybe a lot of people just need some more education on photography. And some teaching about social behavior...

Wow... yeah, I've come across some people who are like that... SMH.

Wow! I can't believe anyone would talk to another human being like that, but it is so true that this is exactly what happens in many photography forums. Sad but true.

Nice & truthful comment Noam, thanks for sharing.

Someone forgot to take their medication! Pretty sad.

This is a bad comparison. The person in the video is a deranged mentally unstable person. Giving honest, critical feedback (and more importantly) plus specific tips on how someone could improve their work is really helpful.

I used to use several photography critique websites (photosig and usefilm come to mind) all the time when I was first getting serious with photography. When written properly, constructive criticism is really helpful, and the process of writing constructive critiques of others photos can actually help you as a
photographer as well.

I think people are too sensitive these days, be honest, give advice on how to improve, and include at least one positive comment about something you like in your critiques. We'll have better photographers
for it.

True, but there are a lot of people who do not have the ability to give positive, critical feedback and think they are being helpful by degrading people.

It is sad.. But I feel like this is also the exact truth. Is it odd that I almost always enjoy reading the comments on forums (*Cough FSTOPPERS Cough*) more than the articles? You always get a good chuckle out of people... hah

Man that is one pissed off Hobbit...

Kind of related.

Anyone ever think that she might have a mental condition? This is obviously not normal behavior.

But I understand the point behind the video though, some healthy comprehensive adults just spend their day shredding other artists work because they are bitter about their own lack of success. People just need to let all their baggage go and focus on creating great images and building an art community that is supportive, positive and co-educational rather than making it into a hierarchical, dominating, critiquing toddler temper-tantrum scenario.

What a great analogy of "CC" seen all over the internet these days. I consciously refuse to engage in such rhetoric because of all of the self-righteous blah, blah blah that seems never to end. I cringe when I see people asking for "CC" from photography groups. This little creep in this video is the poster boy for the never ending"CC" rants I see daily! This was great in getting your point my humble opinion! ;)

I really feel for this man, at the beginning I felt for the kid but in the end you can see how he is living in the past and suffering a lonely existence full of what could have been! I think the kid was very dignified in this up to what we saw and I hope that someone somewhere feels enough for this man to help him achieve mental stability, I hope to God that should anyone I care about head towards this state I would intervene, truly a sad sad situation!

Also my I say it is pretty low to use this as a comparison, obviously a person suffering mental problems, not trying to sound like Sinead O'Connor but you should be quite ashamed of yourselves using this as mockery!

Your little article only proves how people are not "taking responsibility" for their own actions.
And also how there is little accountability at individual level BEFORE posting something somewhere.

You think that if someone makes a "nasty" comment they make it just so they are mean?, no, maybe you should watch American Idol, where poor people are told by not so smart people, or overly politically correct people, that they are so great that they end up embarrassing themselves on National TV. I don't call anyone a "friend" that would do that to me or someone I knew. Same happens in photography. This generation of "likes" with no "dislike" button to even out the field is what is causing this.

I think you are part of that generation that didn't keep score at sports, and never understood what being "really good" really means.

Pampering folks, and shielding from criticism is what has led to this massive amount of people who in reality should be banned from buying a camera.

See the problem is this: In about 100% of the cases, if you're "nice" about pointing flaws, you're not taken into consideration, because your comment was not received as "criticism" but more so "just another opinion", hence the receiver will not take a long hard look at their work and evaluate it, or take it to a REAL professional to evaluate it for them, so that they actually start making improvements.

Everyone is looking for short cuts, and nobody takes any time to study, and really assert something before posting it somewhere. You should not be surprised at criticism, or call it other names. If you have been criticized for whatever reason you should really look closely and see "why" you were criticized, and if there is anything that you can improve, improve it, especially if you're charging people money for your "undocumented services=not paying taxes, or having a real business license"!

If you can't handle criticism don't be in this business. Photography is a visual art; which means that if you post it, we will see it, and comment on it; IF you don't want comments and opinions, don't post it.

So the way to handle a photo you do not like is to degrade someone? We all have those photos and those photographers we want to scream at, but the proper way to critique a photo is to say something that will help a photographer get better or see things differently. If your comments don't help, they hurt and should remain inside your head.

When I started getting into photography, I was horrible. I didn't understand ISO, couldn't pick the right aperture if my life depended on it, and "auto" was by best friend. I told my wife to be honest, and I asked a few photographers to look at my "crap" and give me feedback. If I was told that my photography was horrible or that I should be "banned" from buying a camera, that would have crushed me and I would have given up on my passion.

The problem is that people buy a camera, start pointing at everything, then come online, and ask opinions. Do you see what's missing here? I'll tell you: "EDUCATION".

Most skip on it, they skip the camera manual too, yet we have and many classes available in all sorts of schools, yet everyone skips on the education part, and EXPECTS to come online and be told what F-stop to use for portraits. Is that what accountants do? they go on accounting boards and ask how much is 3543984784x458874645? I doubt it.

I am self taught and never attended one class. I wanted to learn, so I learned. I am still learning.

Some of the greatest photographers today didn't go to school to become photographers. School teaches you what the camera parts do, but the skill of a photographer is in their eye. You can teach someone everything there is to know about a camera, but if they don't have creativity or a vision and they are only interested in achieving sharpness and proper DOF and to hell with all that other stuff, that doesn't make them a good photographer.

You should be able to go online and ask for feedback and expect that people will respect you. There is no right or wrong way to be a photographer. It is about finding what you love and building on it. Sure, there are photographers I know that have a totally different approach to photography than I do and I'm not crazy about their work. But it's their work, not mine. And I don't have the right to tell them they aren't good, because I know there are photographers out there who will tell me my work isn't good enough for their tastes.

Nobody is perfect. Crushing people's self esteem isn't nice or helpful.

Look, "photography" is both a hobby, and a business, or a job for those working at JC Penney type studios. If it's a hobby, and you're not charging people money, do whatever you want; it's only your time that's wasted longer, because if you did take a class you would have learned something faster than by browsing various online groups and piecing information together erratically. School has it's purpose, sure you learn the camera, why would you??? but they teach more than that. Plus, if you're a business, it's 80% marketing/advertising/accounting/packaging/photo processing etc etc etc and 20% shooting. Most forget to take all of that into account.

The aversion people have towards educating themselves in photography is mind blowing; you can have all the creative ideas in the world, if your photos are blurry, underexposed, overexposed then you have not flattered anyone, and your creative idea is useless!

As a business, if I hire someone to photograph anything I would expect that they know their equipment in and out with their eyes closed; I don't have time for you to "figure" out or "learn" on my time!

You downplaying the importance of education is what is destroying the quality of photographs today, and also the client expectations; it has become that "good enough" is the norm which is ridiculous in a field as visual as photography, and this new "good enough" is actually pretty bad.

I am appalled at what certain people post online and call it a "business". one won't even know where to start critiquing something....where do you start? at overexposing weddings? trees growing out of people's heads? shooting in the middle of the day without any reflectors? see what happens is that people think that buying the camera is the ONLY thing they'll need to start a business, and they could not be anymore wrong. I feel bad for the consumers being duped by these characters.

Downplaying the education part just shows that you're not taking it seriously enough to respect yourself and your client, and being the best you can be is not priority for you.

Imagine what would happen if your accountant was being "creative" with your taxes!!!!!

You cannot call yourself a photographer and have no credentials to back that up. Matter of fact, it should be embarrassing to present yourself at 20% to your potential clients than 110%. how is it their fault that you didn't see fit to study, and have some sort of a certification stating that you know what you're doing?

Are you self taught at your day job too? because from what I'm seeing most job fields require some education. matter of fact you need a bachelor's degree to be an administrative assistant! I wonder why since all you're doing is typing word documents all day!!!!! or year, and fax stuff, maine mail a thing or two, and book a couple of hotel rooms! I know super hard job, yet it requires a bachelor degree!!!!! and in photography, which deals with people's memories, and promotion of products for companies that want to make profits is kicking education to the curb! Makes a lot of sense indeed!

I think overall the US is the worst when it comes to education; laziness, and this thing where people have this superman syndrome is really overtaking common sense these days.

I could not charge someone a dime if I knew I am not fully qualified to do so. The internet is not a pet on the back, there are real pro's online too who cannot believe what folks are doing to this industry. Why don't pick up the October issue of Professional Photographer magazine and read page 44, and then flip over to page 46 to see what a digital age studio looks like. See what a professional looks like.

Couldn't agree more...

If you take a class you are learning what the material tells you. The material tells you the rules of photography, teaches you how the camera works, but it doesn't teach you what to photograph or how to shoot it.

Having technical knowledge of cameras is important, you're right. I hate it when I'm shooting and my favorite composition isn't sharp enough. Everyone hates that. But having technical knowledge is only one part of being a good photographer. You have to have an eye. I am still learning different ways to see when I compose a photo. It is an ongoing process that you can't just pick up one night reading a book.

Too many photographers are arrogant, self righteous pr**ks who think that anyone who isn't Ansel Adams should abandon their dreams of being photographers and dump their cameras. Photography isn't easy. It isn't for everyone. But for those who are trying to learn who may not have the support or the arrow pointing in the right direction shouldn't have to come online, seek advice and then get slammed and crapped on by arrogant people.

We are human first, photographers second. The second we lose our humanity we make photography pointless.

You're missing the point entirely.

First off, have you looked to see how many books are available? why waste time online and hope for "the better answer" from someone that might know any better!? when you could pick up a book, and study whatever it is that you need or want to know?

Second, the major problem folks don't understand is Focus. (not camera/lens focus) Very few people specialize in a genre, and a lot think that just because their camera can shoot everything, they should shoot everything too! No one spends any time really focusing on "what genre" of photography they enjoy shooting the most.

I fully disagree with the "coming online for advice, or to be feed with a spoon what settings to use for a wedding"! Why is that fair to those who DID bother to get educated? there are a million seminars, classes books, videos I mean it's not like you "can't find this information"! That is only helping you cheat on yourself; The only thing you can't teach is "talent", but talent without technical skill is useless. I would be destroyed if I went to some landmark, had images I wanted to take already in mind, and ended up with 1000 photos that were not properly exposed, or were blurry.

The education part is mandatory in order for you to truly explore your creativity. Or have full creative freedom. When you fight with the settings you loose the shot. There is no arguing that. I've seen it happen. Heck, it happened to me too when I just pulled my camera and didn't pay attention to my settings...but what if I had no idea what settings to use at all?

Do visit 500px; for inspiration, but more so to see how those who DID pay attention to education, and didn't guess their settings got the results they wanted. Their creativity was not lost by their lack of know how.

My argument has nothing to do with freedom of expression, far from it, but you don't have freedom of expression if you don't know what your camera settings do. You could have more talent than Ansel Adams, (matter of fact he's not one of my favorite photographers), but if you can't show it to me through your photos due to "technical impairments" it's all for nothing.

It is really bad when people tell you that you're good when they don't know what "good is" or how to distinguish it. Like AG said above...If someone doesn't know how can you trust them? what credentials do you 300 friends have in photography for you to trust their opinion?

Sorry I didn't respond a few days ago...been busy.

First of all, you are right. 100% right. I agree with you. The town I live in is fairly small, so every photographer in town is trying to cut into a piece of the photography pie and score business. The sad thing is, most of them are fairly new and uneducated, having very little photography experience and barely understand what aperture or shutter speed is. One person in particular boils my blood and makes me want to smash my face against a brick wall. You can't criticize or comment either way on their photography, good or bad because in this town it doesn't take much for people to spread vile against you and ruin your reputation. So I stay quiet.

I have another acquaintance that went on Facebook to announce that she had gotten a "gig" shooting someone's wedding, then proceeded to say that she needed to read her camera's manual to learn how her camera worked. I had to pull my jaw up off the floor. After the wedding she went on Facebook to ask if she was now a professional. I had to really stop myself from answering her question.

That being said, my comments were not directed towards those kinds of people; The ones that live in "auto", who fly by the seat of their pants and pretend to be professionals without the faintest idea about 90% of what their camera does or what photography is all about.

I'm talking about those people that do understand what it's all about and have a real desire to either improve, choose a genre as you mentioned, or maybe just need a little advice on this or that. Maybe they are tired of displaying their images to people who are afraid to give them real feedback and need the sting of a seasoned pro or advanced amateur to give them some advice or words of encouragement.

Rick Sammon offers to take a peek at your portfolio and give you advice and give you the truth about what he feels about your work for about $100. Some people offer workshops and other forms of tutorials and education for aspiring photographers. David Nightingale has online tutorials you can purchase on subscription, Zack Schnepf offers tutorials on a layer blending technique he uses on his photos. Many others do the same, routinely contribute to blogs and websites to help educate and assist photographers from all levels.

I will, on occasion ask one of these people for advice, maybe a tip about a lens they may own that I am interested in or tips on certain techniques I am interested in trying. To me, there is nothing wrong about lending a few words of advice to people who aren't looking for you to teach them photography but are looking for a tip or two, maybe an opinion or the odd photo critique. That is why we have comment sections below photos we upload on sites like 500px and Flickr. To receive comments, good or bad. To interact with people, generate contacts, maybe even strike up a friendship.

I have no interest in helping those who are too lazy to help themselves in photography. But for those who have a real desire to be photographers and show that they at least grasp the concept and even understand the basics of what their camera can do, I don't mind offering them some tips. We can learn a lot from reaching out to others... maybe even picking up some inspiration or new tricks along the way.

@Michael: Maybe Rick Sammon should run some groups rates, and post that on some billboards so that "Joe with another day job" can get a straight answer once and for all. The problem with Rick Sammon is that he's everyone's best friend, and is not specialized in a particular genre; he is also not making his money out of photographing...he teaches, so he is making his money out of teaching gigs which are different than making money out of photography. In order to make money with photography you need a niche. Do something others don't, or offer something others don't (and NO "free photography" is not it).....if I pop into your website and I see weddings, and portraits, and cars, and landscapes, and products blah, blah, blah...I won't hire you because:
1. I don't know how much of that is your work, and how much is stock you bought to pretend it's yours because you don't really have a worthy portfolio.
2. You have no focus. So IF I am looking to have a car photographed, in no way would I hire a wedding photographer for that.

What disgusts me is that there is really little worthy competition left. In other words, when bidding for a job, I don't bid with folks that know as much as I do, or as much as Sammon does...I compete with the person you mentioned above, because these type of folks seem to be in an endless supply nowadays...they "offer" themselves right and left while I have to design marketing and advertising materials (both of which come out of disposable income as no one seems to appreciate that anymore, so out of 1000 sent maybe I get 1 answer (online and offline both requiring time), and are slowly destroying the very business they want to be part of...and then, like the cherry on the cake, they complain there is no money to be made in photography, so they keep their 6 figure day jobs intact while ruining our field. I cannot compete with someone in engineering!

I can't compete with those who can't even read the manual; that's like me competing with Carl Lewis!!! (and I don't run zilch).

Whomever is running Fstoppers, and other blogs has to find a way to get into small towns, and cliques, and anywhere there's someone with a camera, and point out their flaws at face value-to their face. These folks have no common sense; that is really what it boils down to...they think "photography" is just clicking a button...that's how ignorant they are...I am not about to sugar coat anything. If it's bad I will tell you it's bad and horrible and point you to the books. (Or, Kelby, and even YouTube). Photography is actually part of the service industry, and the customers come first weather you like it or not, and what's worst is that these photos remain out there for photographers we don't have a right to ruin someone's memories, nor do we have a right to destroy someone's advertising content when we shoot food, products etc. We simply don't have that right.

Few pro's who have something to teach, as in they're educated enough to teach others, will accept assistants. There isn't one in Tampa that will accept an assistant. Just the type of folks you mentioned above who book a wedding and then read the manual! It goes from that to the very top end/medium format folks, and nothing in between. Those left in between teach classes at camera stores. Pathetic, because they can't make a living out of photography anymore.

The problem is that MOST=99% of the rebels and the likes, ask online to be told word for word how to shoot a wedding! (or whatever else).

There is so little common sense that they don't even realize just how bad the images are, and then....wait for it.....and then IF God forbid you tell them "what" needs improvement (nicely) you get insulted and called names.
The person who owns this website:

...... told everyone who wouldn't tell her how to shoot a baptism on the Canon group on LinkedIN to F-off. Insulted all of us who tried to save that family' baptism photos. Most of us who replied were actually nice, we pointed her to classes on Lynda, Kelby, named books and articles, but nope, all we got in return were more insults. & No one went and told her flat out to sell her camera, all though we should have told her that...As soon as we mentioned reading the manual she started insulting us. How can you get through to these folks who think they have some "vision"??? when in fact they don't even know what "vision' stands for.

The problem with the "comment" section is that the person who submitted the photos, ONLY expects praise! I've seen it get worst and worst over the last 8 years. No one accepts criticism of any sort; be it nice or not. All they want to hear is how fantastic their photos are, because they fell for the false advertisements from Canon, Nikon and the likes that now "the camera dies everything for you" so they think they are above education. It's sad is what it is.

Those who have a real desire to work as photographers in whatever genre don't waste their time on online boards; they enroll in classes, they subscribe to and the likes, and they buy books. Those folks are driven by personal ambition to be the best, and not rely on other to do their job for them.

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