— Dane Creek

Photo Notes: A Windows Phone app for photojournalists

The number one lesson I learned while taking Assignment and Editorial Photography was to get the names of people in my photos. Since then I’ve relied on a notebook and pen to write down this information:

WP_20130929_001
Two pages of my notebook after a few Seattle Storm basketball games.

I’ve never liked this method though. It’s an extra book and pen I have to carry around at the games and as you can see from my scratches my notes aren’t the neatest. It can be quite a pain to decipher the information after the game when writing my photo captions.

For a few games I did try some other approaches, like using OneNote or even emails on my Windows Phone, but it took too many steps to get the information typed in.

This weekend I decided to do something about this and wrote an app: Photo Notes. It’s for Windows Phone (sorry Android and iOS users!) and designed specifically for photojournalists who need to take quick notes on images in the field.

When you run the app you are immediately presented with a blank note screen:

wp_ss_20130929_0009

While the screen looks simple a lot of design thinking went into it. Focus is automatically in the image note field with a numeric keyboard up so you can immediately type in the frame number. The notes field uses a regular keyboard with some customizations to auto-correct: the app won’t auto-correct your text, but will offer suggestions as you type and when you select words. It’s perfect for quickly bashing in oddball name spellings without fighting the auto-correct system, but also gives you quick access to typo correction for real words.

wp_ss_20130929_0010

After you type in your note detail simply press the save button and you’re done. You can slip the phone back into your pocket and go back to shooting.

When the event you’re covering is over you can upload all the notes to your SkyDrive account as a simple text file, optionally providing a job name as the file name. Careful thinking went into this screen as well: while a default job name is presented, it is also automatically selected so if you don’t like the name you can just start typing to replace it.

wp_ss_20130929_0006

Of course you may just want to reference the existing notes on the phone instead of bothering with an upload to SkyDrive. There’s a screen for that too, with the notes sorted by image number:

wp_ss_20130929_0012

This screen also provides a way to edit or delete individual notes. After the event is done and you no longer need the notes (or have uploaded them to SkyDrive) there is one-button access to clear all saved notes to start with a fresh list.

I gave the app a test using some notes from my old paper notebook and worked great. It’s so fast to enter data! I can’t wait to pin this to my Start screen and use it during the sports photography workshop I’m attending at the end of October.

Not bad for half a day of development while watching football!