On the photo sharing site flickr there is an option to mark “favorite” those photos you find to be compelling for whatever reason. After collecting enough of these you can then review your virtual museum of visual treasures and possibly discover a few common themes or elements that seem to define what it is about the collection that your mind recognizes as significant, delightful or important; what “speaks” to you.
The same is true of your own set of images, not just those curated from others cameras and posted to one of the social media photo sharing services. The mighty search engines sift the usage choices among people online to determine even the faintest traces of significance from the oceans of data. From the patterns and relationships that emerge certain algorithms are created and constantly refined almost instantly as more usage behavior is recorded and sorted automatically. Something similar happens with the photographer’s eye: there is a sorting process for recognizing scenes, moments and compositions. Not all visual subjects go through the complete passage from seeing to capture to print (or online publication) to exhibition and critics’ review. But perhaps a similar process is at work: one’s eye develops, as does one’s power to capture what is imagined through the constraints of a given camera and workflow routine. And as one’s abilities mature to go from spark of creative idea to the final public sharing, this algorithm for refining the one’s themes also grows clearer and more prominent until the point when one can perhaps become aware of what it is that seems to draw one’s attention and reveal new meanings.