Archive for November, 2010
by Gwyn Headley
It came to me in a flash. At a BAPLA Picture Buyers’ Fair (remember them?) I was barking and shilling on the fotoLibra stand. OK, I admit it, I was pretty desperate. “Roll up, roll up, leddies ‘n’ gennelmen, come and see our fabulous photographs, so beautiful they’ll bring tears to your eyes etcetera etcetera.”
A harassed-looking woman was walking past quickly, head down, eyes averted.
“Come and avva gander at our bee-yootiful pickchars, darlin’!” I bellowed.
She stopped — she had to stop, I was blocking her path — and looked at our elegant display.
“They’re lovely,” she smiled sadly, “but I don’t buy lovely pictures. I buy photographs of things people don’t see.”
Now the tables were turned. I was the one who was stopped in his tracks. “If people don’t see things, how can they be photographed?”
“Well, they do see them, well enough to avoid them, but they don’t notice them. And photographers don’t notice them either. As a result, there aren’t many pictures of them.”
“But what are THEY?” I persisted. “What is it that people don’t see?”
“All sorts of things. Roadworks, men in fluorescent jackets, bus stops, rubbish bins, pavements, overgrown signs, health clinics, everything you don’t really notice as you go about your everyday life.
“All I see here are sunsets over the Maldives, the Taj Mahal by moonlight, palm-fringed beaches — and I work for Eborum District Council.
“We have a picture of the Taj Mahal in our canteen, but I didn’t buy it. I need access to pictures of the stuff we live, work and have to deal with. Parking meters, for instance. Even dog poo.”
“Dog poo?” I asked tentatively.
“Yes, dog poo, or IPSV2603 and 2604 as we refer to it. IPSV is the Integrated Public Sector Vocabulary — the code councils and government use to talk to each other. Virtually everything you can think of has an IPSV code — model soldiers, jogging, ex-servicemen’s associations, even UFOs and the U3A.”
That’s great, I thought. Here are fotoLibra’s 10,000+ photographers busy recording glorious sunsets all over the world and the customers want doggy doos. So I grinned my best grin and said “You’ve got it.”
And now she has.
I went back and rallied the fotoLibra photographers. Oyez, Oyez, I blogged, please add IPSV codes to your UK images. I posted a list of all 8,000+ IPSV codes on the fotoLibra site, at http://www.fotolibra.com/about/seller/ipsv.php. With varying degrees of reluctance and enthusiasm, many of them complied. Subjects of previously unimaginable banality were uploaded to the site, and we broadened our reach to encompass the trite and the commonplace as well as the rare and majestic.
In my Damascene revelation that a picture doesn’t have to have a pretty subject, I forgot to take our reluctant visitor’s name, but if that lady ever stumbles across the fotoLibra.com site again she will find over 17,000 images of everyday stuff, carefully labelled with the correct IPSV codes from religions to town parks, from skips to lifeguards, from pills to parking meters.
And just because the subject is humdrum, everyday or boring, it doesn’t mean a photograph of it will be. As a result, at fotoLibra.com we now have images that are practical as well as beautiful.
Thank you, local authority lady. You helped us open our eyes.
This article was written for Montage, the magazine of the Picture Research Association
by Gwyn Headley
It’s a good idea, but I imagined I’d have to gather the info manually and it would take me months.
Not a bit of it. Damien, our Technical Development Manager, dashed off an SQL script that delivered the data in 0.0091 seconds. Then of course I had to spend 24 hours printing out each word in different colours and sizes and carefully glueing them into place.
Here’s the result. Of course I know this means everyone is immediately going to go on holiday and photograph historic churches in the landscape. Please don’t do it. This is done for fun and there’s no real significance to it. I’ve also limited the number of categories appearing to 150, as we have 255 categories in total and the resulting Wordle was very messy.
The reason PEOPLE don’t loom much larger as a category is that we are constantly asked for photographs of people, and we can’t always provide them, as many fotoLibra members show a marked reluctance to photograph other humans. As a result we don’t sell them. And we could.
So please try and overcome your understandable inhibitions and let’s see photographs of people chatting, eating, drinking, interacting, working, playing, talking, laughing — doing People things. All ages, all races.
by Gwyn Headley
Here are the most popular subjects photographed on fotoLibra, ranked by size.
It would be pleasant and profitable for all of us to see many more of the less well featured subjects, such as
Law and Order
Gay & Lesbian