Last time I mentioned photo management software, I came out in favour of Picajet. There’s a lot to recommend it – but one major catch. Although there’s a facility to export all your photo information as XML, there’s currently no ability to import it again. So, let’s say, if you’re forced to reinstall Windows, and you think you’re being clever by backing up all your Picajet data, so that you can restore your exact position after the reinstallation… well, you can guess the rest.
Which brings me back to (guess who) Google again, and Picasa. The one huge thing in its favour is that it stores things like tags (or, if you like, keywords) in the photos themselves. So if you lose your Picasa data, you’re fine, as long as you didn’t lose your photos too. I still don’t find myself warming to Picasa… it’s surprisingly difficult to locate the photos most recently added to your library, for example. But so far, it works.
I’m spending a lot of time just now looking at the metadata (descriptive information) which gets stored in digital photos. It really is amazing how much your photos know about themselves… and how much potential there still is, since the metadata specification allows for the inclusion of GPS data, if your camera can produce it. Your photos will be able to put a dot on a map showing precisely where they were taken, and (even better!) the direction the camera was facing at the time. Wow.
Tagging, though, remains a pain. Which is why it’s worth keeping an eye on people like riya.com who have in auto-tagging. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I hear good things about their system for automatically recognising people’s faces (once you’ve ‘trained’ it).