How To Avoid Letting Toxic Comments Rob You Of Your Passion For Photography

How To Avoid Letting Toxic Comments Rob You Of Your Passion For Photography

Recently, a rather scathing article went up on Resource Mag’s website discussing the toxic behavior of a certain photographer. You can feel free to read the article. I, however, won’t mention him here other than to say that he is the sort of person who claims to be a teacher, but instead uses his fame to attack and belittle other, less experienced, photographers. He has made a hobby of robbing others of their love and passion for his own selfish delight.

The rock hard truth of this is that there will always be sour people in the world. Whether they are random internet trolls, bitter teachers, angry competitors, armchair critics, or just jealous of your passion. Throughout your career there will be an endless swathe of people who seem to make every effort to tear your passion out from under you.

You can’t stop them. The only power you have is how you choose to react. Your passion isn’t some sort of object that a burglar can abscond with in the dead of night, it is the core your being that is shielded by a mighty barrier of your will. No one can snatch your passion unless you let them.

Photography is not objective, it is subjective. There is no photo that has been or ever will be created that will be universally loved. The opinion of one person, is just that, an opinion. It doesn’t matter if that opinion is coming from a world class expert or an angry keyboard warrior trying to rain on your parade, you have the power to reject it.

Be proud of your best photos. Know that, so long as you fuel your passion, even better photos will always be in your future. Use this as motivation and surround yourself with people who’s opinion you respect and whose criticism will help further ignite your dedication. Ignore those who want to crush your momentum. 

You are the master of your passion. Don’t misplace it and certainly don’t cede that mastery to someone who is trying to stamp it out.

Love your love of photography and never stop.


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Sean Shimmel's picture

Way to go, Ryan.

With his incisive wit, the limbless Nick Vujicic observes,

"They'll pick on you 'cause you got a crooked nose... and they'll pick on you 'cause you DON'T got a crooked nose."

michael buehrle's picture

opinions are like assholes…………….
people need thick skin to post stuff these days. always a critic out there and most have no clue what they are doing anyway.

Pete, I'll join you in that elder statesmen role.

You say people like the photographer were ignored, but they weren't really. There were and are people who will silently take the harsh words to heart and it will eat away at them while we ignore what was said. We speak out to say it is not okay, we will not stand for it, and that the poisonous words (he advocated someone consider suicide) are not representative of your peers.

These things are important to be said. They are not indicative of weak society, but of a strong one that looks after the members that need help and encouragement.

Jason Dream's picture

Thank you !

Tyler Newcomb's picture

Well said Ryan! I have come across people who try to prevent me from taking photos, saying it's useless or silly, and I've learned just to ignore them. That's like saying reading doesn't accomplish anything, so it's worthless.

Thank you for this.

Mark Niebauer's picture

Very True and good article

If you're concerned about being robbed of your passion for photography stop constantly looking for approval. Stop being needy. Do things for your own reasons and stop looking for the world to give you a gold star.

Michael Anthony's picture

This reminds me of a great quote I once heard. "Haters Gonna Hate"

stir photos's picture

The missed irony is that Olson is a hater himself, doh! haha....

Justin Berrington's picture

A local news station did a piece on he and a client regarding her experience with him. Really just sad that he's made it this far in the industry. I can't imagine he started out like this.

Michael Kormos's picture

Never heard of Jake Olson. Who flaunts extravagant purchases online and attacks random people verbally? Is he a rap artist?

Dana King's picture

There are other photographers like "fro know blow", that loves to flame others for their equipment or style. People like this should rot in obscurity. I've seen photographers helping each other only for the one's being helped to turn around and up turn their nose later. I just dismiss the person(s) as a "_unt" and move on. Critiques help . . . , being a "_unt" doesn't. (for those that are thick the missing letter _ is lost at sea).

Justin Berrington's picture

haha "fro know blow". Totally agree.

Stavros Athanasakis's picture

Good post. I didnt know the man and, for sure, i wouldnt like to know him after what i read. As for the critics you might get for your work, yes of course everyone has his own opinion. But you should always respect others. And that's for both sides. What i mean is that first, if you post a photo you do it for feedback or just because you want to show how marvellous you are?I think that you must do it to take other opinions. Other perspectives of a photo could be very useful next time.
On the other hand, if you post a critic in a photo you do it to show how good YOU are or to give your perspective and help others?
In both cases we should always respect one another.
Always remember that learning never stops and always remember to be gentle, caring and true in a critic.

It couldn't have been said better.

It is CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT that you be very careful about who you take judgement from. The angry, the jealous, the folks with a pathological need to belittle you, the trolls who can only get an adrenaline rush from putting you in your place, the bad teachers, the teachers who's work sucks but they wear a cool hat to distract from their own performance.....DON'T allow feedback from non-trusted sources. There's an old yiddish saying, "Don't cast your pearls before the swine." Worst of all are the critics who can't recognize that anything new might be good. Their reference is only in the same-old. Pursue your work with passion, enjoy and keep raising your skills, and don't take sh$t. :)

Karma Wilson's picture

Well put. Thanks for this positive piece and the good advice. I have been following the story. Bizzaro! To those wondering why some of us are so fascinated with the story referenced it's probably due to having personal experience with "pros who know" being mean, belittling and mocking. Most are not. One pro we emailed to ask a question actually called and talked to us personally and is one of the nicest guys on the planet. But some, (a big minority thankfully) like "he who shall not be called by name" have been pulling this crap for years. And they have friends who join in. And somehow they get a pass over and over because people like their stuff. What I really wish people would realize is that one kind word from somebody you look up to can give months of motivation. Why not put energy into that kind of notoriety!!!

Thank you for the message Ryan. Photography, like other areas of life are filled with people who find a niche and then work it for all it's worth, caring little about others. What I find entertaining is how their thought process is all about money and self promotion. This photographer should be socking away as much money as he possibly can, as his personality is going to destroy whatever he has built for himself. The great part about someone like Ryan is his ability to fairly shed light on this dubious behavior. Would I want to represent, hire, purchase or be taught by someone like this? It will fall apart eventually, as no matter how old you are, this behavior is representative of someone who has an "act and is very insecure. There are other great professionals out there with great teaching videos and seminars who come with no negative baggage, and who will provide constructive dialog.

Essentially, avoid narcissists (in the article you linked the gentleman in question came off not as a individual, but as NPD).

Re-examine ALL of your friends. If they do not support your passions or are critical at the worst moments (like when they think you might be down and out) drop them like a hot brick - for your own good.

Here you can get more free followers for your account.