Digital Photos: Multi-formats

One thing I always find challenging about organizing photos, regardless of format, is how subjective the whole process feels. Typical options tend to be more subject-based and include things such as event, place, people, pets etc. But for some people, like artists, there might be other considerations such as color, texture, mood, shapes or patterns, all of which illustrate that selecting descriptive terms is subjective.

Having said that, it never ceases to amaze me how often I see photos organized by date. Even on my MacBook, iPhoto naturally groups photos into “events” by date, unless I go in and merge/separate them manually. This puzzles me because I think that the human memory is most fallible when trying to recall the exact date of an occurrence, unless it happens to be for something exceptionally memorable like a wedding or birth.

I go to NYC often to visit friends and family. When searching for specific NYC pictures I’m likely to remember where I was, the time of year and the people instead of the exact date of the photo. I instinctively search for an event like New Year’s Eve or Thanksgiving, or a person’s name, rather than the exact year/date the pictures were taken. For this reason, I prefer to organize my images by place, event, or people. The dates are part of the organizing, they’re just not my primary method.

Introducing the ease with which video is created adds a whole new dimension. With a photo, you can look at it and tell right away what it is about, even if it’s organized by date. With video, however, this isn’t always so easy to do. For example, my brother made three videos of the penguins on the Patagonia trip. Each one is completely unique, but when describing them, I find myself at a loss about how to distinguish one from the other. One video shows a penguin entering the water. Another video has a great closeup of a penguin shaking its tail. Without watching each video in its entirety, or having a detailed description telling me which second each thing happened, I’m not quite sure how to easily find the moments that I want to watch again and again. Video includes so much more than a photo that it increases the need to have even more ways to describe the content.

If a picture is worth 1000 words, how many words is a video worth?

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