Most photographers go about trying to become better by starting out with putting their work online. They share via Instagram, 500px, Flickr, Reddit, Facebook Groups, etc. Depending on where you venture into, the levels of toxicity may vary. You could be a portrait photographer posting an image for critique online but actually just be critiqued by a landscape photographer. And for a few seconds, you’ll sit there and read a glaring, sharp tongued remark about your image and how terrible it is. But in all honestly, your image probably isn’t terrible at all–it’s probably just something that person doesn’t like at all.
The first time this happened to me was in college; except that it wasn’t online–it was in a classroom. Photojournalism 101 was the course I was taking and I was assigned to do a project on some sort of important happening in my college. Like many other people that attended that class, my work was ripped apart by the professor. It’s one thing for someone to hide behind some sort of online avatar and spew nothing bit acidic hatred towards your photography, but it’s a whole different thing to get it in real life. For what it’s worth, it’s far more demeaning and disheartening.