Much of what I know about photography I have learned on and thru the internet. I do have mountains of books and subscribe to numerous magazines, but there is nothing like getting actual feedback on your work from fellow photographers, artists and the casual viewers. I am always curious as to what makes or breaks an image of mine because I want to see if it's "just me" that loved the image so much or do other people get the same vibration as I do. Or is it something totally different. As much as I see things differently, it can be just as much true for the observer also. Call it role reversal.
When I went back into photography some years ago, I was blessed to have some friends that are truly incredible artists and they provided feedback when I was brave enough to ask. The feedback was delivered on different sides of the spectrum. Some friends provided gentle, but truthful feedback and other friends were brutal. But I learned from them. To this day, I do remember the gentle feedback, almost down to the last word and for the ones that were brutal, I thank them everyday, because they were the ones that made me absolutely determined in sticking with it and believing in myself.
Online can be so different though. Many people cowardly sit behind the protection of a computer screen and I have seen some folks get chewed up by a few mean spirited people. I have put my work out on those forums and I have had good feedback for the most part (until I get asked what I "shoot with" and it's all downhill from there...that's a whole different blog posting). I have found Facebook to be helpful, but I am not looking so much for feedback. On Facebook I am just wanting to share amongst my friends.
Having said that, one of the best online tools I have used is the "Pentax Photo Gallery". It is a website sponsored by Pentax that allows "Pentaxians" to submit their images and have the photos get voted on (straight up or down) by fellow photographers. These photographers are from around the world. The common language between all of us are the images themselves. Sometimes it takes days for the photos to go thru the voting process, other times it takes months (though I am not sure why). But if and when your images are approved, there is a sense of accomplishment. And the ones that don't get approved? Well, for me, I try to figure out why. I have been fortunate that I have had more approvals than disapprovals. 6 years ago I was thrilled to have a 20% approval rating. Now it is up to 80 - 100%. 6 years ago I was nearly heart broken at the disapprovals. Now I just say "meh" at the disapprovals. It is a great tool and a wonderful way to display ones work (and lets face it, a great marketing tool for Pentax).
Anyway, check it out if you have a chance. The interface is easy and the images are quite large and in your face!
Here is my page at Pentax Photo Gallery