Back in the steam age, circa mid 20th Century and of course much earlier, photographers were considered on a par with magicians. That is, when people weren't giggling at them when hidden under a black cloth trying to focus or something. (No one really knew what they were doing under those black cloths, it was all very mysterious). All that changed with the advent of trendy hip young people with even trendier hip small cameras (that didn't need a huge cloth over your head to focus), seducing even hipper trendy and pretty young things wearing even less cloth. It all got blown-up in the film 'Blow Up'. Suddenly, it was very hip to be square. Photographers were cool, man.
At about the same time, 'high definition' TV consisting of a huge 425 lines of monochrome weirdness required serious visual imagination to fill in the missing detail. Photographs, on the other hand, especially the ones taken by a hip magician, looked really fantastic in comparison. These were the photographic Glory days. Fast forward to the future, the present time, and the roles are now reversed. TV and media images today make most ordinary photographs look rather pale by comparison - and everyone is a photographic magician. Photographers, (those that use big pro cameras in public anyway) tend to be looked upon not with awe and admiration but more with suspicion. Be it by 'concerned' parents or by whatever controlling State authority is watching you in whatever country you happen to live in. These are the not-so glory days.
Ironically, images - some really good images - now flow around us like a river in full flood. Photography has never been so popular. Back then, no one outside friends or family, saw any picture you personally took unless it was published in a magazine or newspaper. And it was a rare honour to be published. Today, well, not so much. Rarity has been replaced by excess. Excess breeds familiarity and that in turn tends to breed contempt. So, apart from visiting Instagram, how do we know what is not contemptible? Or at least interesting enough to be a little engaging or remarkable? Ladies and Gentlmen, the answer to your prayers, I give you the 'Stink-O-Meter'.
Going back to the previously mentioned days of fuzzy monochrome TV, one popular program had a talent contest that gave the vote to the audience via a 'Clap-O-Meter'. (Or Crap-O-Meter as some called it). The harder people clapped, the higher the score. Simple. Hmmm...thinks: Something like this 'might' work for our images. No more algorithms, scores or even curation needed. You see, as no one has much time for due consideration anymore, why not go with your gut feeling? Five seconds of your time should be enough.
I mean, if I ask my grown up off-spring their opinion of an image I humbly present to them. Perhaps just a simple picture I might have trecked for weeks and months into remote high mountains to attain, lost fingers and toes to frost waiting for the light while at the same time fending off attacks by indiginious natives. A picture I've then edited and polished to within an inch of its life to present to them for their opinion. No deep analysis needed.
Their instant reaction (or more precisely, lack of reaction) is straight to the point. I call it the Stink-O-Meter effect. Basically a shrug means the picture stinks; a grunt means it doesn't altogether stink but still might be slightly smelly... and a brief nod before they return their gaze to their smart phones means it's 'okay' (ish).
Perhaps we could write up some code and formalise this effect.
Or someone much cleverer than I could. Any offers?
A simple graphical line with +100 to the left, '0' at the centre and -100 to the right would do.
Click on the line wherever your gut feeling tells you. Zero would be 'stink' central, average, a little boring, inoffensive, only slightly musty. A figure further to the left of centre the better, or less smelly. The further to the right, bad, much more stinky.
Simple, quick and easy. No effort needed. You get the idea. I commend the idea to the House. Or I could put you in touch with my offspring if your ego is strong enough...
Wanghan Li PRO
Interesting article with the humors (even that monster camera draws a of laughs). Learning.
Well said Peter, on the scale of +100_____ 0_____. -100, my slider is pushed all the way to the left!
Steven T CREW
Thank you, Peter, for the well-written and thoughtful article. The humour was a bonus! I think a simple 1-100 scale would work well for Curation - easier to understand for both the voter and the photographer.
Great article Peter, and I love that photograph. It really sums it all up. Best regards, Patrick
Mike Kreiten CREW
Funny read, Peter, thanks for that! You could also post it in the critique forum on 1x (https://1x.com/forum/critique) and if no senior critic will suggest a change, it's just perfect. I doubt this will ever happen, though! :-)