Another year has gone by and you’ve taken 5,000 images and videos with your iPhone, your family and friends have another 6,000 photos of your awesome adventures from this year, and somewhere in a secret drawer you’ve stashed a few of those tiny micro SD cards with at least 3,000 photos and videos from your proper DSLR camera.
What a mess! Wouldn’t it be great to get a nicely packaged and delivered 2019 “Wrapped” slideshow of your favourite shots, like Spotify send you each year?
Unfortunately, despite all of the developments in image recognition, facial recognition, and even Apple’s curated “Memories” section in its photos apps, full automation simply isn’t possible yet. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making things easier, but computers can’t fully index your content to make it 100% searchable. And some (thanks Frederic for reviewing this thoroughly in your article) would argue that even if artificial intelligence could accurately recognise all elements within your image, this would add too much noise! (more on that another time) So where does this leave you? How can you make all of your content easy to find and beautifully curated?
I recommend you start with metadata. Metadata is written information that describes the content of your images and videos. Let’s look at this image I took a couple months ago:
If you were to extract the information automatically created by the camera (this is called EXIF metadata) as a starting point, you would be able to reveal the following information to this image:
- Date Created: October 12, 2019 at 11:24am
- Location: Bern, Switzerland
- Camera: iPhone
- Format: jpg
However, if I’m searching through my collection of 14,000 images and videos to find all of the images of “mountains,” this metadata simply isn’t enough. What I need to do is to add more metadata, in context. Because I am the photographer, I was there on the day, and I composed this shot myself, I remember the following information about this image:
- Description: Beautiful view over Bern, Switzerland while having breakfast with my husband in the morning before Johanna’s wedding ceremony. View of the Bernese Alps with three classic mountain peaks – the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau in the distance behind a church in the foreground.
- Event: Johanna and Michael’s Wedding
- Creator: Kristina Huddart
- Copyright: Kristina Huddart
- Usage rights: Photograph may be used for personal, non-commercial reuse. This image may not be used for commercial marketing or advertising purposes without a license agreement with the copyright holder.
This is useful, contextual information about this image that neither you nor a machine would have been able to guess just by looking at the image. Not even the best artificial intelligence can replace human memories…yet?
Now that I’ve added all of this metadata to this image, if I were to search my collection of 14,000 images and videos from 2019, I would easily be able to find this image whether I searched on any terms in the metadata, such as “wedding,” “mountain,” “church,” or “Johanna.”
What tools can you use to add metadata to your content to make it easily searchable?
- For your small personal collection, you can use simple photo apps for this process. Check the app store for some good photo organisation apps on your smartphone or you can use Microsoft or Apple Photos for basic metadata entry.
- If you’re a serious photographer and you’ve got 1000s of assets, you’ve likely invested in image organisation and editing software such as Adobe Lightroom or Capture One where you can enter metadata into IPTC metadata fields.
- And if you work with a team or in a company and you need to be able to organise your content, so that everyone can easily find, reuse, and share on-brand content, you’re going to want to think about a Digital Asset Management system (DAM), in which you can set up a bespoke metadata structure and taxonomy with handy drop-down lists, recommended terms and spelling corrections
Want to find out more about metadata or DAM? Are you or your company struggling to find existing on-brand content? Let me know. I’m always up for a chat!
It’s a great time of year to get organised and kick off 2020 on the right foot!