Okay, I'm not going to give you a long sob story about how I'm under-appreciated, under-utilized (creatively) and thinking I should be paid 30 percent more than I'm making now. Although all true, that's not what this post is about. It's simply the combining of currently existing technologies that would make my life a LOT easier.
The transition from film to digital photography has certainly expedited the speed of processing photos. Unfortunately, it's pretty much single-handedly put the majority of film labs out of business, unless they have a machine capable of making prints from SD or Compact Flash cards. But from my standpoint, the difference is immaterial. Putting large quantities of photos online still requires a lot of painstaking work. Thankfully, the editors have moved past their techno-ignoramus stage (no offense, guys) of giving me raw materials with no instructions or explanation and saying, "Just put it online."
However, in order to take advantage of Google's and other search engines' programming, each image needs to be individually named. As I write this blog, I'm in the middle of processing over 300 images from the 2010 Texas Showdown show. Per company policy and for search engine optimization, if it's a photo of a white Chevy Silverado, I have to append "white_chevy_silverado" to the photo. If it's a custom Ford F-100, I have to put "ford_f100_custom." You get the idea. Now, repeat for 300+ images. Fun, eh?
Some of you that follow the tech world may have heard of a technology called Google Goggles. Basically, it's a image recognition program that the search engine giant has come up with. It's currently being rolled out in camera-phones as a way of integrating search into phone snapshots. What I'd like to see is some adaptation of the technology to digital SLR or point & shoot cameras. There are one of two ways this could be done. Either the cameras could incorporate some sort of wireless connectivity technology to either locally tether to a laptop, tablet computer, cell phone to tag images, or a built-in 3G or 4G (coming soon to a town near you) radio to automatically tag the photos as they're being taken. Obviously, it's a process that would have to run in the background as the photos are being compiled, which could have a negative effect on the camera's battery life and processing speed.
At the same time, Moore's Law seems to be alive and well, so it's entirely feasible that this capability could be built-in to cameras without adding a great deal to the cost or weight of the camera. The big concern for either local tethering to a wireless device or built-in capability would be battery life. But with batteries likewise getting exponentially smaller and more powerful year after year, this too may soon be a non-issue.
And no, I don't hold any secret patents on the technology, nor am I necessarily looking for recognition for suggesting as much. I'd venture to bet that Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus or another top-tier camera company is probably working on a technology as I've described at this very moment. And, like with any other technology, the first-generation will be somewhat clunky, slow, and awkward. Unless it comes from Apple, in which case its operation and function will be almost telepathically intuitive (Takes a sip of Apple Kool-Aid). But the important thing is that it's being worked on, so that the next time I have to process a mega-batch of photos, instead of having to spend 4-6 hours manually tagging photos, I can take a quick glance, do a cursory QA, run my Photoshop batch action on it (another HUGE timesaver I figured out) and post them.
So if any of you engineers or programmers in Mountain View, Cupertino, Tokyo, Seoul or elsewhere are reading this, get to it! Chop, chop!
I actually just had another lightbulb moment. Rather than saddling the actual camera itself with that duty, perhaps develop a utility that would tag images once they're downloaded to a computer? Seems like that might be an easier way to do it. What do you think?