I don't know about you, and maybe this is because I'm a photographer myself, but I have never viewed a series of beautiful images and instantly felt the urge to develop a negative opinion about the images or the photographer and voice said opinion in comments.
I’m not talking about those offering real constructive criticism when it’s called for - I’m talking about the ones that are really and truly out to ruin your day.
You know the ones.
No matter how great your intentions, once your work gets around in any capacity it is instantly up for critique.
And while it's easy to say brush it off, ignore the haters, move along, depending on the thickness of your skin, forgetting the negative comments can be difficult.
And it doesn't take a huge share for the haters to creep out of their hidey-holes... sometimes it's just a random, jealous rival, or someone who has really and truly had a bad day and wants to grump it up on social media.
Recently we shared an underwater shoot online which was picked up by different media outlets, which was hugely awesome for us.
We were stoked.
The overwhelming majority of comments from the session were hugely positive and uplifting.
I read a few comments though that made think wait, did that person really find a way to be negative about a couple swimming underwater?
I don’t even understand why they went to such an effort to be mean, but it happened.
During your photography career, especially when you share your work online, put yourself out there and push your boundaries, the haters are inevitably going to surface even when you believe there can’t possibly be something to hate about.
When that happens, I want you to come back to this page and realize you're not alone (cue violins).
And, if you are graced with their presence know that their critical words mean you really and truly have done something right.
Here is a quick guide on how to identify the various species of Troll and what to do when they attack.
How to Identify Troll Species
The "Not So Constructive Criticizer," aka “The Sinister Smiley Face”
The "Not So Constructive Criticizer" is there to make sure you reach success based on suggestions they offer - sort of.
When you are most vulnerable, they surface to attack their unsuspecting subject with gentle but biting comments that leave their victim unsure about whether they honestly meant to help, or if they're singlehandedly attempting to destroy the confidence of the photographer.
Their comments may be padded with encouraging phrases and smiley faces that are obviously not intended to be taken as such. They may use an anonymous name on Facebook to further add intrigue for the reader.
Here's a few examples of this particular species:
While the second comment was not overly trollish, there was the winky face which to me suggests sinister intentions.
I guess what this commenter doesn’t want to know is… we didn’t retouch her pores.
I know this is hard to take in but… some people just have flawless skin.
The "I didn't have my coffee yet"
The “I didn’t have my coffee yet” is a troll who, after their caffeine fix would likely be an approachable individual, but by an unfortunate twist of fate they have decided to log on to Facebook and post a comment before their morning coffee fix.
It’s easy to spot the uncaffeinated, as they generally write in short sentences which may or may not contain the appropriate punctuation.
The "Dolla Dolla Bill Y’all"
The “Dolla Dolla Bill Y’all” is a rare, intriguing breed, and are generally considered an offshoot of "The Misinformed."
These trolls like to assume the financial stability of the photographed subjects based on what they are wearing in the images or the circumstances behind the shoot.
Typical of trollhood, they attack using a statement based on pure and often incorrect assumption to quickly gain the respect of equally judgmental individuals (see below).
Swimming in the ocean wearing loaned gowns for a shoot we did for no charge is definitely as free as it gets.
We did dry off with a handful of $100 bills after the shoot, but since we never mentioned it how could they have known!?
These are just a few of the types of trolls out there, and no doubt you've seen or heard of a few more breeds you could add to the list.
But at the end of the day, the species of troll doesn't matter. What really matters is...
What To Do
- Focus on the positive. I bet the positive comments outweigh the negative, but as human beings we are inclined to only listen to the bad things we hear about ourselves and our work. Do what you need to do to ignore the negative comments.
- Delete if necessary. Freedom of speech and constructive criticism - I get it. But when we put our work up on our Facebook and Instagram it’s not up for critique, it’s up for show. We very rarely receive negative feedback but when we do, it gets a hide/delete. Trolls go bye bye because a) our social media pages are a positive place where we encourage positive vibes and b) as a potential client, I would not want to see negative comments on my photographers’ work - right?
- Breathe and ignore if you can. Trolls will shrivel up and die if they are not fed a regular diet of rebuttal. They are unable to survive in a positive environment. Don’t waste your time on a passionate response that will likely go unnoticed by the troll who will likely get excited by your response. Instead, delete if possible and move on. On the other hand, if deletion is impossible or the comment is just so severely misinformed that it warrants a reply, I’m inclined to write a small tactful response if their comment is so out of line that it’s ridiculous. You’ll be able to judge when this is the case. Just don’t take what they say personally or you’ll drive yourself nuts.
- Rejoice. Continue to do what you do! If you are causing a stir doing positive and wonderful things in your world and your business, you are most certainly doing something right. Realize that everyone at some point will come face to face with negative criticism, it’s just part of life (if you want proof that trolls attack anything and everything, just follow Miley Cyrus on Instagram and read a few of the comments. Not that I do…).
- Do it for you. So you had a negative critique and it didn’t ruin your day? Win! If it left you feeling a bit low, backtrack to why you did that shoot in the first place. Was it to give in to jerks who have nothing better to do dull your shine? I think not. Was it to create an image that absolutely gives you goosebumps, to share with others how much your skills have blossomed, to document a time when your idea came to life? Carry a positive mindset, keep creating, and step gracefully over anyone who tries to drag you down.
Have you been a victim of negative criticism? How did you put the bullies in their place?Article by Love & Water Photography