How good are my photographs ?
I bet most photographers have asked themselves that question and find it as difficult as I do to get an answer. Of course you can ask your family and friends for their opinion (even their truly honest opinion) but they are obviously a bit biased and you know that it’s not the same as an opinion from other photographers. So I suspect that most people do what I do. They upload their pictures to Flickr, Facebook, IPernity, Google+, 500px (name any of a number of photo-sharing sites) and wait for the comments, likes, favourites etc. I’ve certainly got accounts on all of those sites and use them for just that purpose.
At least I did use them for that purpose, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that all these types of sites suffer from the same problem. It’s always possible to find out whose photos you are viewing and therefore influence the results. I’ve certainly had pictures on 500px which have the comment ‘Voted and Faved – please have a look at my latest picture’. Whilst it’s true that a lot of the pictures on 500px are outstanding images, and much better than any I could produce, there is a certain element of luck about the score you get. Only this weekend I posted a new picture and because of the way the Lightroom upload tool works I accidentally re-posted a picture as a new image. Interestingly, this time it did considerably better than the last time I posted it!
However, this week I discovered a new site called Pixoto which works in a different way.
On Pixoto you upload your pictures and they are played in a game which rates one picture against another.
It works like this. Each upload costs you 10 ‘points’ and as a new player you start with 40 points. As you upload and categorise a picture it is rated against other pictures to work out if it is better or worse than the other picture. Any player can carry out this rating, in fact you have to in order to earn points to upload more pictures. You never get to compare your own pictures and you have no knowledge of the photographer who took the pictures you rate, so any picture’s position comes down to whether that picture is considered to be better than others it’s compared against.
I’ve uploaded 9 pictures so far and I’m thrilled because I’ve earned 3 awards for 3 pictures. Because of the way the site works, these awards actually mean something to me because they are the result of people who take pictures themselves rating my images better than others. I’ve also found that some images which I considered rather good are not viewed that way by others!
Of course sites like Flickr are still great for some things like adding pictures to albums for family and friends to view or making private image sets, but the attraction of the rating system means from now on I’m going to use Pixoto as a mechanism for seeing if I’m improving as a photographer.
The images in the gallery at the top are the ones which won awards – the featured image of the boat was the one I thought was good but isn’t !