3.1. Photoprism

I've been contemplating the idea of dropping Google Photos for years now. I used to auto-backup to my NAS all my photos and videos when they were still accessible through Drive, until Google removed that feature on July 2019 in a classic Google move. I didn't bother finding an alternative at that time, but it's been on my mind ever since.

The thing is: Google Photos is darn good. The UI is great, it's easy to share pictures, the partner sharing is extremely useful, the automatic memories/creations are fun. Oh, and its AI recognition is good. Like, scary good.

Photoprism's face recognition is ages away in comparison. But the reason for that is so obvious that it gave me goosebump when I read it from their doc:

It is a known issue that children [...] faces cannot be recognized reliably.

The absence of children in the training data comes from the fact that parents do not usually share such images under a public license (and may not have the right to do so).

How come then that Google Photos' AI is so good? Your guess is as good as mine, and mine would be that they've been using all their users' pictures to train their AI for years. I'm sure they'd say they never did that and never would. And I'm sure I wouldn't believe them.

Moving away from Google Photos is part of a bigger plan to move away from using Google in general.

So I downloaded/exported all my photos from Google using their export tool named Google Takeout, saved them on my QNAP and pointed Photoprism to that folder (readonly for now), then set up a backup job to Wasabi. The first backup took something like a week or two to complete 😬.

My plan was to then remove from Google Photos all my photos and videos taken prior 2023, and re-do the process every year in December. That way I'd still enjoy the easiness of using Google Photos, without keeping almost all my lifetime's memories on that platform.

I haven't done that yet. I was waiting for my first backup to complete before deleting all my data from Google Photos, but then as it took longer than I expected, I kinda moved on to other projects. I'll eventually get back to it, but I also wasn't fully satisfied with Photoprism after playing around a bit with it.

So more to come!

Now I'm diverging from the main subject and hopefully this part will become its own page at some point but I'll note it here for now: I was shocked, and not in a good way, at the amount of similar shots I have.

"Back in the days", we'd have 21 shots and we'd have to pay to get them printed, so they'd better be good and worth it, right? Today, I just tap tap tap tap that virtual shutter button to make sure I don't miss a good shot. I then look at the photos to see if one (or more) is good and move on. I never actually take the time to delete shots that aren't good and won't be used. Or just to filter down the best shot and remove the other ones. They'll eventually just be in the way. And they are. It's like a debt I keep growing. And it was shocking to me to see how many pictures it ended up being after years of not cleaning up. I'm actually so lazy that I preferred to pay for Google One and get more storage than clean up my mess.

I can do better. Now I'm seriously diverging but it also joined another related part of my brain: over consuming without realizing it. Just a quick example as a reminder to myself to write deeper into this subject: have you ever been super excited to discover a new band through a CD when you were young? Or rented a VHS or DVD after really really wishing to see that movie? Or try a new video game at a friend's you didn't know existed? If you can relate to one of these experiences, then ask yourself this question: are you still in such awe when Spotify gives you your newly weekly discovery playlist? When you're on the Steam Store lost searching for a new game amongst hundred of thousands of them? Taking countless pictures, being able to listen to an endless source of music. It just feels... too easy to take a minute and appreciate what is currently there, in the present. The current song. That one picture. That one thing you were super excited about when you bought it and that's now in a box 'till death take you apart.

Ahhh I did it again.

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