The problem with Google Photos or why my friends are a Spaceman and a Ladyboy

Google Photos is a brilliant product. Free, powerful, cross platform and with unlimited storage. The problem is that it is rather too helpful. It’s like having a hyperactive boy scout always at hand trying to be earn a merit badge when actually you’d prefer to be left alone.

Many of the features that automatically happen in the background like montages, animations and Remember the Day are fantastic. The problem I have is with the Faces detection function. For most people this is not an issue; for a Street Photographer it becomes a nightmare. What Google does is to scan the photographs you upload looking for repeated faces and it naturally assumes these people are important and it groups these together. It doesn’t matter if they are the subject of the photograph or just in the background.

googlephotosIf you’re into Street photography or have uploaded thousands of images this is a problem as random folks become grouped as somehow part of your intimate circle of friends. In the shot above here are the faces Google thought were important to me. Top row left to right

Local lad in a water fight in Luang Prabang, Kid in the same waterfight, Waitress in Vientiane, Office worker in Bangkok, Ladyboy in Pantip Plaza Bangkok, Random bloke in Oxford Street, Policeman in Bangkok, Gay cowboy at Pride 2006, Bald man in London, Old biker in Chang Mai, Spaceman on a poster, Commuter at Waterloo, Burmese girl, Man in crowd, Doorman at Lingerie Shop, Peruvian street seller, Cover of a Japanese fashion magazine being read on a train, Random, ticket inspector Machu Pichu, Woman in Saigon Post Office, Bloke in hoodie (not Darth Maul)

So there you have it; a collection of my nearest and dearest. A small tip for Google – maybe next time ask me if I’d like to include these folks and I guess the answer will be no.

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