This post started when my wife posted a childhood photo for a recent Throw-Back-Thursday. Not only is it impressive that her TBT was an actual hard copy photo instead of a digital relic from Facebook, but also that she could even track it down in the first place. Between the thousands of photos I’ve collected – and seemingly exponentially more each year – they’re becoming harder and harder to keep track of.
I suppose this is where I transition with some cliche stock photo right?
But no, that’s not’s not the problem with photography. Or rather, not the one I’m focusing on right now.
What about the improvements in camera quality?
Nope, I’m good with the 200 megapixel Hasselblad H4D-200MS. (seriously, who needs 200 megapixels?!?)
The technology advances in cameras are staggering. And not just with high end DSLRs. Point and shoots are phenomenal now too. And you know what, I’m even struggling to justify ever buying a new camera in place of my iPhone.
For example, this summer I took a long trip to Brazil for the World Cup. Importantly, for the first time I tried packing my phone as my only camera. I kept the cellular network off, just using the phone as a Wifi & Camera machine…and I didn’t regret the decision once.
Something else to consider…
Homescreen.is is a quirky service that lets you share the apps on your phone’s homescreen. The site then catalogs and crunches the data from all its users to show trends, rankings, etc. Let’s take a look at the top apps right now:
Can you spot any consistent themes? What’s the #1 app? What do 3 of the top 4 apps have in common?
Of course the answers is some combination of social media and camera photos, which are often one and the same.
Too Many Photos
Remember buying film? 24 shots a roll, so you’d have to carefully pick & choose what would be photo worthy. No throw away selfies that you could care less about. No more retakes of a photo we’ve already taken a dozen times. No more everyone taking the same group photo, each with our own cameras.
The problem with digital photography is that we have too much of it. Photos from your camera, from your phone, old photos from years ago that you only have hard copies of, photos that you’ve uploaded to various online services over the years, heck even some screenshots you want to keep.
Solving Photo Centralization
I’m not looking for a way to take more photos or apply more filters. I’m looking for a solution that will help you manage all of your photos in a single place, with the ability to access them anywhere/anytime. And I do mean ALL your photos.
Maybe this exists already – and to be sure services like Picasa, Carousel and iPhoto are options. However, there are two key features I think we’ll need
1. Photo Consolidation
First, we need to get all our photos in a single place. And then keep them there. So there’s really two pieces here:
- A super easy up-front upload process
- Connecting to all our services so any future photos automagically end up in the same place
Obviously this can create storage issues, but to put things in perspective you can get 1 TB from Dropbox for $10/mo these days so I’m not too worried.
2. Intelligent Photo Search
Once all your photos are in one place, the logical next step is to provide ubiquitous access to them. Here’s the thing though – ubiquitous access doesn’t just mean having a mobile app.
Ubiquitous access means being able to find the photos you want, when you want, wherever you are. Emphasis on find, not access – access is a given these days.
With so many photos in our catalogs we need intelligent photo search, which means the following:
First, there’s the obvious metadata that’s already embedded in our digital photos, such as dates, times and locations.
Next, I’d like to see better people recognition. I can’t tag people all the time, especially from a real camera (i.e. not my phone). And some times I’m not comfortable tagging someone publicly. And then other times I’m just too lazy. The killer feature is a service that knows my contacts and automatically recognizes them. Said differently, my photos need to be merged with my address book.
Finally, there’s the concept of labeling, tagging and categorization…whatever you want to call it. This was the main issue I encountered on my trip in Brazil. I wanted a way to categorize all those photos as “Brazil World Cup 2014,” without even thinking about it.
So the next killer feature is a Google Now-like service for tagging your photos. The same way Google often knows what you’re doing (e.g. have you ever received an alert saying “Traffic is heavy so leave Work now to arrive at Dinner Party on time”?), the ideal photo service would enhance generic date/time/gps data with context clues such as “Dinner Party with friends on Friday night at Alex’s house.”
Between those three things – metadata, people recognition and automatic categorization – we’d have real intelligent photo search. And matching intelligent photo search with centralized access, I might be able to get all my photos back again.