The time to update and refresh my online travel and cultural photography portfolios rolled around, and I decided to take a bit of an experimental approach. Using the tools offered to me by Photoshelter and the power of social media, I was able to take a novel approach to making the selections for the web portfolios. One of the beauties of Photoshelter is the multiple options you have for sharing your images with people; whether you want to share it all publicly with everyone or keep it private among a select group of people, the tools are available for you to use however you desire. For this I decided to use publicly viewable and searchable photos but grouped together in such a way that the grouping was only available to a few people. To do so, I took advantage of the ability to create and share a lightbox.
I choose approximately 90 photographs and created a lightbox for them on Photoshelter. Next, I put a call out over Twitter and Facebook asking for volunteers to help me cull the selected photographs down to a more suitable length. When people responded, I told them that I wanted to end up with two galleries, one representing travel photographs and the other culture photographs. I mentioned 25 as the total number I was after and requested my helpers to either rate their top 25, or to rate more and I’d select their top ones. To do this, I gave them the permission to be able to rate using the star system within the Photoshelter lightbox. The screenshot below shows a partial view of the ratings matrix. Of the three columns where there are no ratings at all, the red boxed one is reserved for ratings I personally assign, and the other two empty columns are people who got the invite but didn’t (or haven’t yet) participated.
Once I’d gathered all the ratings, I simply went through and copied all the highest rated photographs into a temporary gallery that was unpublished and viewable only by me. That left me with 39 images total, about evenly spread between travel and culture photographs. There were a few similars in there and I chose the one I thought strongest and discarded the rest. The brought me down to 35 photographs, of which 17 fit into the culture category and 18 into travel. I generally try to base portfolio galleries on 12-15 images but this time I decided to include the extra couple and leave it at that. As it had been as much an exercise in crowd sourcing the selections, I didn’t want to favor one image while dropping another.
Of the people who helped me making the selections, there was one professional photographer, one semi-professional, one hobbyist, one who likes looking at photos but isn’t a photographer, and one old high school classmate who I recently met on Facebook 20 years after high school. I’ve no idea what her experiences with photography are. All in all, it’s a pretty good cross section of people. I’d have liked a photo editor or art buyer but that’s more wishful thinking than anything. The whole selection process doesn’t really substitute for working closely with a portfolio consultant but that’s not in the budget at the moment – one of the downsides of local photography rates in this part of the world is that while they provide a decent quality of life here, they don’t always stretch to allowing investment in consultants in the major markets of the world.
Now you can see for yourself the final selections as chosen via a crowd sourcing experiment.