Toxicity is Rampant in the World of Photography and There’s No Need for it

photography communities
Just go read the comments on YouTube channels, Facebook, or in forums; there are toxic photography communities everywhere.

The internet is a wonderful thing. It has given us the ability to have all the information we could ever need at our fingertips, and it lets us share our work online, but it has also given us something else. Keyboard warriors. People who sit in front of their computers, or on their phones with the sole purpose of degrading, bad mouthing, and generally making the lives of others miserable for no reason. Unfortunately the photography world is home to more keyboard warriors than most communities on the web. Why are photography communities so toxic? 

“Let’s get something clear. There is a massive difference between leaving a comment that is well thought out, and that gives constructive feedback on a subject, to one that attacks another person or a group of people because they have a different views than yours.”

A recent video from Tony and Chelsea Northrup put the spotlight on the toxic behavior of people in photography communities, and while it’s a fairly long video, it’s definitely worth watching.  It’s worth pointing out that toxicity isn’t limited to just photography communities though. Most communities that talk about a hobby or profession can harbor people who feel that they are superior to others in the group. They’ll look down on people with less experience, or differing views from them with disdain, and there is really no need for such hostility.

Heck, we’re even considering implementing some AI via Disqus to cut down on anything that comes in–and we’ve kept it minimal as it is.

Let’s get something clear. There is a massive difference between leaving a comment that is well thought out, and that gives constructive feedback on a subject, to one that attacks another person or a group of people because they have a different views than yours.

The latter of these two types of comments is what we and many others in the industry, and people just in random photography communities dotted around the web see every day. What does it accomplish exactly? I really never have understood why someone would attack another person with a degrading insult rather than try to have a civil conversation about a topic. I’ve seen many fine photographers never share their beautiful work again in forums after toxic behavior towards their work, and large parts of photography communities will never even chime in because they fear they will be harassed by trolls who feel they are superior because they shoot a certain brand of camera, or shoot with certain lenses.

“What does it accomplish exactly? I really never have understood why someone would attack another person with a degrading insult rather than try to have a civil conversation about a topic.”

It’s a real shame and the photography community as a whole is missing out on some great conversations and great work. We love when we hear from you guys in our comment sections, on Facebook, and Instagram, especially when you share your experiences with others. It makes the community a great place. Just leave the negativity and harassing comments at the door.

The kicker is that the hostility in the photography community only happens online. I have never been verbally assaulted in public over an image of mine, and have never had any one approach me with hate in their eyes in public because of a photography related view mine, but online I have had people track down all my social media accounts, leave me hate filled messages on all platforms, and have told me the world would be a better place if I were to disappear. I know I’m not the only one. This happens to millions of people every day and it’s really quite pathetic that so many regard others views as worthless.

“The kicker is that the hostility in the photography community only happens online.”

It’s this toxic behavior that’s driving so many people away from photography. We should be out there lifting everyone up, and encouraging one another rather than making people put away their cameras. Next time you’re online and you see someone bad mouth the camera you purchased, dis a lens that you own, or just have differing opinions to yours, instead of attacking them, maybe leave a comment that will help back up your beliefs about the gear you use. Educating others, not degrading them is better for everyone.

Check out the enlightening video from Tony and Chelsea Northrup. Take it to heart, and before you go to respond to something online really ask yourself if your comment will add something to the thread, and if it doesn’t, just let everyone else enjoy the nourishing conversation.