Planning and Sorting for Captioning

by James Duncan Davidson

In late March, Derrick interviewed Robert Leslie about shooting TED and later was able to share Robert's folder organization in Aperture. I saw this and immediately fine tuned some of my own practices when shooting big intensive events, such as last week's Web 2.0 Expo and this week's MySQL Conference & Expo. Creating buckets for the photos to go into while shooting an event is not only helpful for when you are pulling images off of cards, but it's also a form of pre-planning. It helps you structure what kinds of shots you want to get from an event.

Keynote Crowd

Of course, no matter how well you plan a shoot, one of the big chores in post-production is the act of captioning and keywording image. For shots where there is a single subject, this is pretty straight forward. You can just apply the same metadata to a big group of photos. But, for shots where there are several subjects, such as a panel, things get harder. There are more people to identify and, if you work the shoot back and forth with various angles, not all the same people appear in each shot. If you're not careful, you can end up with one shot of Bill, Tom, and Jane; then another with Bill and Tom; then another with Jane and Tom; then back to Bill, Tom, and Jane; and so forth and so on. After a while, you can really start to go cross-eyed in captioning.

Bill Maimone

To help smooth out this bump in post-production, you can rearrange a shoot after importing it so that similar photos are grouped together. Once done, this helps out a lot with the process of captioning and keywording, but even the act of grouping can drag things down a bit. To address this, I've started thinking a bit more when I go into a shoot about grouping my shots as I take them. For example, when I walk into a panel, I might first do the wide shots. Then I'll do a set for each of the speakers that I'm interested in capturing. And then, I'll move on. By structuring my shoot into logical blocks, the photographs can be imported pre-sorted, saving just a bit of time.

It's not always possible to adhere strictly to a sorted shot order. Sometimes somebody tells a joke and there's a wonderful opportunity to catch a panel with everyone laughing. For the most part, however, if you can shoot in logical blocks, the random exceptions that will occur can be quickly sorted out into the right place and you can get through post-production that much faster. It's yet another form of pre-planning that can give you back valuable time behind the camera to do what is most important: Capturing more photographs.


Lifetime Photographer
2007-04-24 07:51:54
This is a good topic that should be explored more. For wedding photography, I number my media cards so they reflect the events of the day. So typically the first card covers pre-ceremony shots, while the second 2gig card covers the ceremony and post-ceremony coverage, and on and on. I import and label each card according to their number and house them in a client folder. That way, if there are any problems with the files, I should be able to determine which card that file came from.

This strategy makes it a little easier to group files and keyword them as well.