Something called Pictory just popped up in a few places in my feed reader. It is described in one post as “The Photo Magazine, Re-imagined.”
I took a look at the first “showcase,” which is called “Overseas & Underwhelmed,” and here is my initial assessment:
- Too much design
- Too little editing
To clarify: when I say “editing,” I mean the process by which photographs are chosen for inclusion (or exclusion) in a sequence, and how their order in that sequence is determined — I’m not talking about post-processing.
I happened to see that Karl was on photophlow, so I queried him on the subject, to see if I was crazy. His response was, “It’s interesting…but it didn’t really touch me.”
I think that’s apt.
There are some photographs that I would certainly not have included, and I don’t have a clear sense of it as having been sequenced with much care or thought. I could be wrong about that, of course, and I will review it more carefully and report back if I feel these initial responses are off-base.
Some caveats about what I just said:
- The above applies less to the overall premise and idea of Pictory than it does to this specific “showcase.” I don’t know yet whether or not this will turn out to be representative.
- Some of the photographs in “Overseas & Underwhelmed” are quite good. I particularly liked this one from a photographic standpoint, although I don’t know how I feel about the text accompanying it.
- This “showcase” is basically about travel photography, which is a genre of photography I loathe.
Now, as to whether Pictory itself — rather than just this one collection of photographs — is a good idea, I’m not sure. I like the openness of it — it’s not exactly democratic, but it’s certainly more friendly to more potential contributors than most sites that would consider themselves “photo magazines.”
But I think this “showcase” demonstrates the main weakness of this sort of open process — it’s susceptible to loss of cohesion, to being pulled in too many directions. And collections of photographs which are not held together by some sort of strand (whether narrative, thematic, graphic, or some other type) tend to lose the chance to achieve any sort of depth or power.
Is it possible to overcome that weakness? Sure, but it requires a strong and skilled editor…
As to the site itself — it’s attractive, which is always good, but as I said, I think it’s over-designed. The design is overshadowing the content, and as someone who is more interested in good photography than good design, that’s a minus in my book.
But I do appreciate that it’s not flash-based. In fact, every time I see a photography website that isn’t flash-based, I say a little thank you to the gods of web standards. : )
One more quibble, though — a lot of these images are being reproduced at too large a size. Some look like they were created with cameraphones or low-end P&S cameras; others were probably created with good cameras but were submitted as crappy JPEGs. In any case, about half the photographs would have looked significantly better at about 75% the size they are displayed on the site.