Archive for February, 2012

Family Photos in the Digital Age

Family Photos

Your family has elected you “Keeper of the Archives.” There are several ways that this could happen, the most likely are: you have an advanced degree in History or Library Science, you are the oldest child, you own antiques, you have a ton of photos on display, you show any amount of interest in your great-grandparents, and/or you have the skill or interest in preserving old photos by scanning them. Some of us meet all of these criteria; we never had a chance.

You have two choices: buy a scanner, software, read up on digitizing photos and spend hours doing it yourself; or save yourself the headache and hire someone to do it for you.  Either way, you’ll have one jpeg file for each photo.  The good news is that you can burn the files on a disc and share them with all of your cousins, display the photos in a digital photo frame and post them on Facebook. The bad news is that you lose the back of the photo or album with all of the information.

Enter metadata. Metadata is data about data that is a part of the file, in this case, it’s data about the jpeg file that resulted from the scan.  Windows provides the easiest way to edit the jpeg’s metadata. Simply right click on the file, select “Properties” and then select the “Details” tab.  You will see that you can enter a title, subject, tags, comments and the date taken. Date is easy; overwrite the scan date with the actual date of the photo.  Tags are keywords used to describe the photo; if you add any, think general subjects like birthdays or holidays (more on these next month).  The rest is a little weird.  Different software will display the remaining information differently, so put the same information in the “Comments” and “Title” fields (you can copy and paste); click on ”Apply” and then “OK.”  This will allow Windows users to view the information in the easier to read “Comments” field and PhotoShop users to read the data in the “Description” field.  Conversely, if you are scanning the photos yourself, use the “Description” field in PhotoShop and the information will display in the “Title” field in Windows. To edit multiple files in Windows, select the desired files and right click; follow the above steps.

If you’re thinking that this is going to take forever – well, it is time consuming.  Just remember that you’ve spent much more time on the earlier aspects of creating a family archive; now you’re in the home stretch. Next month we’ll discuss organization methods of photo files.