Voice Memos for Identifying Subjects


Today’s Question: I do mostly bird and wildlife photography and upon returning from a trip to Ecuador with many images I then spent hours trying to identify the birds. Most of the time when shooting the guide would tell us what we were photographing but I was too busy photographing and did not want to stop and take notes. Do you have a recommendation for a device that one could carry to make voice recordings to later tie the identification with the photo?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I would recommend capturing voice memos with a dedicated digital audio recorder. The capture time for each voice memo could then be compared with the capture time of your photos to aid in quickly identifying the subjects in your photos.

More Detail: While today’s question relates primarily to bird photography, the same approach of using voice memos to identify key subjects can be helpful for many types of photography.

While smartphones include the ability to record voice memos, I find that using a smartphone for this purpose can cause more of a distraction than using a simple digital voice recorder that has buttons specifically for starting and stopping a recording. For example, the Sony ICD-PX470 digital voice recorder (https://bhpho.to/3LLUtZc) is a great solution for this type of scenario.

Before heading out on a photo outing be sure that both the voice recorder and the camera are synchronized to the same date and time. Then while you are photographing you can press the record button to initiate the recording of a voice memo as needed. The voice memo can include the name of the species or other subject, along with other pertinent details that may be helpful later. For example, if the subject you’re photographing is exhibiting a particular behavior that is noteworthy, you could mention this in the voice memo. Then stop the recording when you are finished with a voice memo.

A digital voice recorder is especially helpful for this purpose because each time you start and stop the recording you’ll be creating a new audio file. Later you can download the voice memos and your photos, and then use the capture time for each to determine which photos each voice memo relates to. The applicable details can then be added to the keywords or other metadata for your photos.

There are, by the way some cameras that have a built-in voice memo feature for this same purpose. However, in my experience this feature is generally only found in lower-end point-and-shoot cameras. A digital voice recorder provides similar capabilities for noting details of photos when you’re using a camera that doesn’t have a built-in voice memo feature.