Organising Photos

photos globe

I have over 10,000 photos stored offline in a folder called ‘my pictures’. That contains 34 subfolders and 330 sub-sub folders. Messy. Don’t get me wrong, folders and sub folders like ‘year’ & ‘month’ is much better than one folder with 10,000 photos in it but it’s just so much hassle to search for a specific photo i know i have….

Photos Online

Should i have all of my photos online? Yes. And i have many on my own flickr account, but they only make up about 10% of my total photo collection. Before anyone asks why i use flickr and not picasa, ‘wordpress’ is the answer. It’s easy for me to embed my own photos from flickr on to this blog thanks to a few wordpress plugins. Or, i can search through creative commons photos on flickr and use them here too with the click of a button.

A photo is just a number

The one major problem i have with photos is that computers are too stupid to realise what photos are about. I have to describe a photo to a computer in order for that photo to be of any future benefit to me or anyone else.

How often have you wanted to see photos of a specific event or a specific person? Let’s say i know i took a great photo of an airplane at Dublin Airport that i could use in a design. Where is that photo? Anyone’s guess. If it’s not labelled properly, it’s useless. I’ll have to manually crawl through files and folders to get it.

my pictures

If i can remember the location it was taken at, great – because my iPhone Geo tags all photos. But if wasn’t taken with my iphone, the fact i took it at Dublin Airport means nothing to the computer.

I’m not lazy when it comes to technology, but how often do i manually assign geo-coordinates to pictures? Never. Because i’m lazy and that’s a waste of my time. I know it’s important in the long run to do it, but i want to just drag a folder in to some software and have the software do all that stuff for me whilst i look at videos of people falling on their faces on youtube.

That’s reality, that’s why the vast majority of images online aren’t properly tagged or described… people just don’t have the time to do that stuff. Even if they do have the time, it’s just so boring and mundane describing and tagging 500 photos of the same event… unlike old style ‘films’, we’re not limited to 30 pictures per roll or per memory card. You can fit thousands of photos on an SD card and these days the amount of pictures you take is limited by your cameras battery life, not storage capacity.

In an ideal world…

In an ideal world, photos would be geo-tagged automatically. Faces & people would be recognised as would buildings, objects and landmarks… i should be able to take a photo of a table and not have to describe what the photo is about, i should be given suggestions 🙂

Anyway, i tried the two big guns in this ‘photo organising’ space; Picasa (by Google), then iPhoto (by Apple). I went back and forth between them both to see which was quicker & easier to use as i’d already worked out they had similar features. Initially, i favoured Picasa because it seemed to run quicker but then after playing around with iPhoto (which isn’t free by the way), i warmed to it.

After a little configuring and learning shortcuts, i found it quicker to use and prettier on the eye too. Many people disagree, in fact many say iPhoto ’11 is a total disaster and the worst version of iPhoto yet but because i’m using it for the first time, i can’t comment on that.

I spent about 6 hours in total yesterday in iPhoto trying to organise all of my 10,000+ photos. That involves geo tagging them in batches (i’m not sad enough to manually work out the exact location i took every single photo!), tagging them individually with keywords, adding ‘faces’ to photos (kinda like ‘tagging’ in facebook, only iPhoto is smarter because it can guess who is in what photo after a while).

I haven’t actually edited any titles or added descriptions to photos, for now i’m happy to just tag them with keywords, add a rough location to them and determine who is in them. It will be a long process but longer term, definitely worth it. I’m taking more pictures than ever these days so it makes sense to organise photos NOW rather than years down the line when my collection will have doubled or tripled in size.

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