Google: Your Image is Your Search Query

BlogHer Original Post

Google's new feature "Inside Search" says it wants to tell you more about photos you find online. 

First, check and see if you have a camera in the search box on the Google Images search page. If you do, you can drag the URL of a photo to it or upload the image directly to the box. Click "search" and Google will tell you what it knows about the picture. (There are also Chrome and Firefox extensions that can supposedly make the process faster, but I didn't try those out.)

I tested it on this photo of Eddie Vedder that I took at Jazz Fest in New Orleans last year. 

I uploaded the photo (mostly because uploading anything to a search box was something I'd never dreamed of doing, so I thought I'd try it out.) Google "found" it from my query, and showed it to me, including basic dimension information. Beyond that, the results weren't that extensive. It did show me that I had uploaded it into a post on MamaPop last year, which was interesting. It also gave me a selection of what it calls "visually similar images." This gave me no pictures of Eddie, or New Orleans, or jazz, or anything vaguely similar to the picture subject or tags, but did call up a slew of moody black and whites

Okay, that was marginally interesting. What next? I typed in a URL from a photo I'd just uploaded to Flickr this weekend. M Street heels

Google got a little cranky this time: "The URL doesn't refer to an image, or the image is not publicly accessible." Neither of these things were true, but whatever. I uploaded the image to my desktop instead, which is annoying to do from Flickr, quite honestly. Google Image Search took me this time to a link to my Flickr stream, plus another batch of moody, red and white images. 

I've also tested it out with URLs from the web of major landmarks and people, and honestly the results haven't been that great so far. I credit that to my unfamiliarity with the parameters of the search, plus some initial bugs. I think my main use for this function would be to check on an image to see if it had been uploaded anywhere else. But given the volume of photos I have online, I can't imagine searching for all or even a small percentage of them just to check that out.

Google has a similar mobile feature called "Google Goggles" but says that this feature is refined for desktop. I checked out a similar search engine, Tineye, today, but found it much slower.

As a photographer and a prolific online media sharer, I'm interested in anything that moves image searching and sourcing along, but I have to try Google Image Search more to see if I would find it useful in my work. Do you think you would? 

Contributing Editor Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites. Her photos are on Flickr.

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