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Author Topic: Defining Photographic Genre  (Read 6054 times)
agillanders
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« on: July 19, 2010, 08:16:39 AM »

Hi folks,

I know this is a challenging one and it can cause heated debate...I am looking to define a set of 'genre' that allow a grouping of images by something that might generically be called a genre. Having done quite a bit of research one of the best raw lists I found was at one of the Pentax forums (http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/general-photography/87698-photography-genres-demystified-muddied-i%92m-not-quite-sure.html)

However this still mixes function and subject and is a very long list where a good number of the supposed genres can be considered sub-topics of a broader genre. So I have tried to organize all this and I am need of feedback regarding the results. My intended use is twofold: I am developing software for a large photo club and the international PSA recognized event they organize each year; and I tag many of my own image library with hierarchical keywords starting with genre. My objective was to try and group, and regroup, and force fit within reason into a list of 10 or less overall genre...I finished with 9. What do all you CV folks think?

Close-up (includes macro, scientific, forensic, astrophotography, photomicroscopy etc)
Creative (includes abstract and alteredreality)
Event (includes sports and wedding)
Model (includes glamour, fashion, boudoir, nude)
Nature (includes wildlife and landscape [no hand of man])
Photojournalism (includes documentary and human interest)
Portrait (includes candid, studio and environmental)
Still Life (includes studio and product)
Travel (includes transport, landscape [pictorial], cityscape, urban, architecture, aerial)

This deliberately excludes what I consider to be more a function than a genre. For example commercial, advertising, stock, fine art etc are more about the designation of usage rather than content. A shot of a given genre could be used in all the functions depending on the job. One of the biggest confusions I found was this blurring of form and function.

Thoughts, corrections, general abuse...all welcome!:-)

Regards, Alistair
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raka
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2010, 09:56:02 AM »

Hi Alistair,

so you want to put everything in the world into 10 boxes  ;-)

i think you've done a number of things 'right' already:

- you established a WHY you want to do it (w/out this it would be a pointless/ impossible task - but you have a well defined target that it can be tested against)

- you broke it into 'familiar/traditional' photo image groupings (look at the photography section in your bookstore, amazon, etc.)

- you separated content from usage

notes:

- you'll have to accept that you will ALWAYS get content that does not really fit into any box. up to you if you want to add an "Other/ None of the above" box for the exceptions. but agree w/ the 90/10 rule to make it pragmatic

- you'll also get the opposite: is the gritty downtown area image Photojournalism/Documentary, or Travel/Urban? so be prepared to write a few more sentences about each grouping to help define

- perhaps another term for "Creative" (so ALL club members can feel "creative", regardless of category - and perhaps add "extreme/obviously digital" in here as well)

- scan above mentioned amazon book groupings hierarchy in case there are ideas that can help, also many existing photo competitions etc. are already organized along similar groupings, so make sense to conform if you'd like to fit into that scheme of things

- pieter
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2010, 08:59:46 PM »

I find that the work I do does not fit so neatly into categories. 
I make a hierarchy that is personal to me and my work, and I am not afraid to make new hierarchies that split the images up in a different way, while keeping the older hierarchy intact.
Peter
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agillanders
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2011, 11:18:30 PM »

UPDATE

Just thought I'd post an update 10 months on...this has worked remarkably well. One of the critical paths to success was to accept that a given image can fit more than one genre. I am looking to characterize the image not fit it into one and only one box. So far many images can be acceptably fit into one genre, two covers the vast majority...I think there are a very few with three but that is as likely to be the photographer being lazy as it is a true characterization of the image.:-)

By implementing this in a database as a bitflag field it is trivial to characterize images under one or many genres with a single value and hence do powerful searching and filtering in SQL. I've also used it to characterize club member's interests and can match member's with similar interests as well as images that are relevant to them.

It is amazing what a controlled vocabulary will do for you when you get ruthless about scope creep!

Alistair
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