Something unexpected is taking place. Professional quality portraits are getting terrible scores. This phenomenon isn’t happening in the other categories, DSLR photos of landscapes do amazingly well and staged photos of animals thrive. But there’s something about portraits that causes people to swipe down. I’m worried the problem may be human faces.
Last week I asked my friend Katrin (a professional photographer) to upload two photos of equal quality so we could see how they scored relative to one another. One featured a model looking at the camera. The other photo showed the model with her back turned. You can see the pictures above this essay. They seem pretty equal to me but the portrait scored significantly lower than the picture of the woman’s back.
This phenomenon could be a function of the network’s structure. Unlike most social media platforms, Archive does not allow you to immerse yourself in a bubble of content that fits your personal taste and bias. We expose you to photography you didn’t ask to see. People may not mind a picture of a dog they didn’t ask for but they are much less tolerant of a strange human face looking back at them from their phone.
It’s also possible that down-swiping a portrait on Archive is a subconscious protest against the narcissistic presented-self that we find on social media. This kind of protest was summed up 120 years ago by Nietzsche, “Whenever a man strives long and persistently to appear someone else he ends up finding it difficult to be himself again.” It’s true that candid photos score better than ones featuring the stagecraft of the portrait but even the best candid photos of people don’t come close to the scores regularly awarded to the average dog.
Maybe we’re all just jealous haters. Pictures of men’s faces do slightly better than photos of beautiful women which makes sense because our user base has far more women than men.
Our goal is to create a magazine that functions like an organic cultural asset created by Vancouver. So, maybe the lack of faces is a feature, not a bug. It could represent your maturity of character, proof that you are not captivated by shiny objects or beautiful people. The good news is we are committed to making the magazine you tell us to. Archive can have more faces anytime you want. All you need to do is swipe them up. I won’t hold my breath.
*We are taking a break for the holidays but we will be back early next year. I hope everyone reading this can enjoy time with their friends and families in the coming weeks, and I want the best for everyone in 2017.