This month I had a chat with Sam Chadwick, a Swiss travel photographer. In the next few lines, in addition to telling us more about his passion for photography, Sam will talk about MyKeyworder, a tool he developed to accelerate the workflow in stock photography.
When did you first approach photography?
I started getting into photography when I bought my first digital camera in 1999. It was a Canon Powershot A5 with a resolution of 0.8MP. While I had many friends who were captivated by developing images in the darkroom, I enjoyed the instant feedback from seeing the image on the screen. It helped me accelerate up the learning curve and meant that I could do a lot more experimentation in real-time as well as with digital post-processing, although the tools for the novice photographer were much more limited in those days.
On your site, there is a large collection of images from every corner of the planet. What is the place that remains in your heart the most?
Most of my travel photographs are either landscapes or people. For landscape photography, I have fallen in love with Switzerland, where I live now. It is a truly beautiful country that has great respect for nature and the environment combined with incredible mountains that are readily accessible. For portrait photography, my choice would be India because of the openness of the people, the vibrant colors, and the endless activity that creates so many opportunities.
Where does your passion for travel come from?
I have always been inquisitive about languages and cultures, meeting new people, sharing stories and experiences. I don’t know where that came from. I grew up far from any big cities and I have always been curious to learn how people live differently across the world.
I discovered your work through a tool that I often use to speed up my workflow in stock photography: MyKeyworder. Tell us more about your creation.
I started building MyKeyworder in 2010. Digital camera resolutions had just reached the level where they could be used commercially. This led to a number of “microstock” photography agencies launching, who aimed to crowdsource photographs. As I had always been a digital photographer, this was the first opportunity for me to generate income from digital images as the traditional agencies were still asking for prints.
The biggest challenge: all of the images needed keywording before submission. I remember watching the videos of Yuri Arcurs, creator of the People Images agency, who had become a microstock celebrity back then and he had one team member whose sole job appeared to be keywording images and submitting them to the agencies. Yuri had created a keywording tool but I thought I could create a better one, that could be integrated into my workflow, which was based around Lightroom, this became MyKeyworder.
However, I didn’t just want keywording. I wanted a tool that would enable me to explore the submissions of other photographers, the styles they were using, and what images were being selected by buyers to be able to improve my own submissions. Based on discussion boards, I knew that would be something others would value too, so I made the site open and free.
Is there any news coming for MyKeyworder?
The most recent updates have been the MyKeyworder plugin for Lightroom and the auto-tagging capability which uses machine learning to identify the contents of an image and suggest keywords automatically.
MyKeyworder also supports multiple languages, which was a request from many of the European users of the site. There are a few other capabilities in the pipeline but they are still a few months away. For example, I’m trying to create a capability to automatically tag the bib numbers of runners for photographers that have to cover running races or other sporting events. If people have suggestions for what they would like to see, they can submit a feature request via the site.
Choose your best portrait and tell us an anecdote behind this photograph.
This is one of my favorite portraits because of the depth and the colors. It was taken in the center of Delhi, India, on a very hot day with crowds of people rushing around me. Normally, the harsh light makes it incredibly hard to get good street candid shots during the day, but this man was sitting just back inside the shop, lighting him and his white robes perfectly against the colors of the background. I just managed to capture what appears to be a moment of calm preparation. The reality was very different.
Sam Chadwick, travel photographer, and developer from Switzerland.