It’s time for me to beat my favorite dead horse: metrics. I talked ages ago about The “Like” Trap and more recently The Problem with Metrics and I don’t feel any differently about any of it now. But Me2’s post yesterday on how he chooses his Little Book, plus events in my own life, compel me to revisit this issue.

We are all looking for some combination of validation, encouragement and feedback for our photography. Most of us enjoy sharing our photographs with family and friends; it is the rare person who is able to create work with the intent of keeping it private (Vivian Maier comes to mind, but even that example is debatable.).

The number of followers and the number of likes you receive for any photograph posted to social media only hints at how good (or bad) a photograph is. I think we are all aware that our follower numbers are padded with what is affectionately referred to as ghost followers. You know those accounts that are inactive, spam or people who are just plain lurking. That is why a simple like, or ratio, or any metric for that matter,  is never enough to give you a clear view of the success of a photograph.

Personally, I think the best way to judge the quality of a photograph is sales. But considering that this is not a feasible method for most of us (myself included) to judge the success of a photograph, I look to comments as the next best indication that an image has connected with a viewer.

I am lucky that even when I post a rather questionable image, there are a few stalwart friends that I can count on for a positive response (thank you @goldnessie, @amwfotos, @dansolotoys and @darrencroft to name a few). But it is the other images, the ones that get 20-30 comments, those are the ones that I think are the most successful.

For example I published this image recently and the total “likes” was 500+, but there were 21 unique comments on the image; some from people I had not heard from before.


V For Vendetta

Versus this image with 900+ “likes” and 25 comments.

Mythical Creatures

I believe in dragons, fairies, good men and other mythical creatures.” – Unknown

How do you tell which images is the better image through the social media lens of likes and followers? You can’t! But when you look to your comments you can get a sense of how well an image has connected with your viewers.

My point is, looking to metrics to solve the age old question of “what are my best images” is a continuously shifting target that isn’t worth your energy pursuing. The best images are the ones that speak to you, the ones that mean the most to you, the ones that you would hang on your wall with pride. No number, no metric, no outside validation can replace what you know in your heart of hearts, is a true reflection of you.

If you need outside validation, then look to your comments; look to your fans and what they’re saying. But really, the only person to know what are your best images, is you. This is not the easy way to choose a “best of” book, because making choices is hard, but in the end you will learn something from the process of choosing.

~ xxSJC

I don’t mean to come down harshly on Me2’s method, I know he was giving anyone who doesn’t know where to begin a few tools to get started. I only hope you will choose your best of images based on a criteria other than someone else’s view point. 

Many of your are well on your way to finishing your “best of” book, how did you choose your images? Do you think that looking at your most liked images or did you do like I did and throw all the rules out the window before you even started?

Have you signed up for the best of 2015 challenge? There are only a couple of spots left, you don’t want to be left out!

Mr Steel

“Mr. Steele” is my most liked photo ever; is this because of the photo or the subject? By the way, I didn’t even consider this image for my “best of” book. Not because I don’t like the image, but because i don’t think its better or worse than the ones I did choose.