The first project for the Information Visualization and Design class that I took in my last semester at Penn was a self introduction. Our task was to create a visualization of some sort using data of ourselves, whether it was the color and origin of the shirts in our closet or a breakdown of our Facebook friends and the last time we spoke to them.
I chose a Photobiography, because my most readily available source of personal data was the collection of photos taken on my phone. Since I had managed to either break or lose a total of three cameras by the time I came back from studying abroad at the end of 2012, my iPhone, from the moment I got it in January of 2013, was the source of all my photos. And Dropbox automatically uploaded all of the pictures on my phone each time I connected it to my computer, so I had a solid repository of photos just waiting to be analyzed.
First step: collect the data. My method was to go through each photo to gather the time and place in which it was taken, as well as to classify it as a photo of myself, others, objects, scenes, or things. However, my Camera Uploads folder contained almost 4,000 pictures, and I quickly found that if I was to do them all, I wouldn’t have time for any other projects that semester. Therefore, I narrowed it down to a mere 1,617 photos, just those that were taken during the academic year at Penn.
After data collection came the painstaking design. Each one of the bars on the graph is scaled to size and individually drawn.
But finally on to the fun part, the analysis!
What did I take pictures of on the days when I took the most? The answer turns out to be my little sister (look at the smile, can you resist that? I didn’t think so), Hey Day (a Penn tradition wherein Juniors don red shirts, styrofoam hats, and canes and officially become Seniors), historic sites of Philadelphia, and Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World. Lots and lots of Cinderella’s Castle. 103 pictures, to be exact, just of the castle during a light and fireworks show. Below is the best one, captured right at the peak of the show. Totally worth it.
But what’s this, why does the photo count jump up considerably during January of 2014?
Ah, that’s because I downloaded Snapchat during winter break, and my photo-taking habits were significantly impacted. Below, you can see that my general photo count (in pink) remained consistent, so the all of the excess gray represents Snaps. No, Snapchat doesn’t save photos, but for those days in January, I documented each of the Snaps that I took. You can probably imagine how many of them were selfies…
Since I was also curious, I created a graph separating the photos by category. The top bar graph counts photos of people (well, that answers the Snapchat selfie question), while the bottom bar graphs counts photos of things.
Interestingly, I mostly took photos of people during spring semester of 2013, as I was finishing up my extracurricular commitments and attending various events and activities. Once I was released from the organization boards and all of my social obligations in fall of 2013 (Senior year!), I apparently spent more time holed up and looking at objects.
That’s not all, we can break it down even further.
Paul was my boyfriend in Spring 2013, and though we broke up over the summer, the number of photos that I had of him in Fall 2013 actually went up. That’s probably the clearest testament to the good relationship that we’ve been able to maintain even after splitting up.
Fall 2013 also saw the introduction of the “Other” category. This category is mostly comprised of pictures of shows and performances, as I made it a priority to attend everything I always wanted to during Senior year.
Lastly, surprisingly, only 33% of my pictures of objects were of food. Food is the only object that I ever remember taking pictures of…
And just for fun, one final analysis of the time of day in which the pictures were taken. The graphs below show a 24-hour clock, with midnight on top and noon on bottom. Each radial wedge shows the total percentage of photos that were taken during that hour (i.e. in all of 2013, 4% of all photos were taken between midnight and 1am). I bet you can’t guess the times at which the light show at Cinderella’s Castle took place!
There we have it, a look into my photographs from 2013. For the full presentation, see below: