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Can the masses judge quality?

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  • Can the masses judge quality?

    I'm reading an interesting book, "Forgotten Marriage - The painted tintype and the decorated frame 1860 - 1910" by Stanley B. Burns, M. D.. The book begins by examining how photographers used painters (you usually hear of this in reverse), and the effects early photography had on traditional portrait painters. It's quite interesting. There was one quote that made me wonder just how quality is perceived by the general public. The following quote seems to pertain to painted photographs:
    "Were I to begin life again, I should not hesitate to follow this plan, that is, to paint portraits cheap and slight, for the mass of folks can't judge the merits of a well finished picture, I am more and more persuaded of this."
    --John Vanderlyn (1775-1852)
    a well known academic painter,
    Kingston, New York

    Should we be concerned with this same thing? The thread Vikki has on Wal-Mart (or is it Walgreen's?) photo restoration seems to fit right in here.


  • #2
    My theory is, the masses are not entirely to blame if they can't judge quality. They can only judge what they know or have seen. If they are only exposed to mediocrity, how can they know that anything more exists?
    That's something that bothers me about Walgreens. They are promoting mediocrity.


    • #3
      The masses determine what mediocrity is. They are the "common denominator" in the term "lowest common denominator".
      Learn by teaching
      Take responsibility for learning


      • #4
        I've always found people to be more interested in the content of a photograph than the quality or technical ability of the photographer. The bulk of processed and printed product from high street processors is technically crap but it still provides satisfaction to their customers if they are the originators of the image. This works in reverse at audio visual presentations, the audience is bored to tears after the 50th slide but all the presenter experiences is memories generated by the projected images.


        • #5
          My personal opinion is that most people will settle for the lesser quality, unless the price is much the same. Probably the majority of people don't know the difference between different levels of quality, but if shown side by side samples, they can see the difference. Even when they do see it, the question is whether or not they will pay for the increased quality. I think some will, but many others won't. Just how important the photo is to them could also be a deciding factor.



          • #6
            Good, fast, or cheap, pick any two...

            A friend of mine worked at a place that developed photos and did retouching/restoration. When his customers became annoying, claiming that some of his services were too expensive, he would tell them, "Look, we can do your job good, fast, or cheap. Pick which two you want, but you can't have all three." Most of the people chose fast and cheap, not caring much about the quality of their images.


            • #7
              I think most peoples personal photo's act as 'memory joggers' and quality is secondary.


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