Who are those people? What are they doing? Where did that happen?
Nothing triggers fond memories like going through your old shoebox of photos! Weddings,
vacations, reunions, birthdays and holidays, so many fun times and people you know and
loved. But will your children, grandchildren, relatives and others recognize the people, places
and things or will they just stare and wonder? Or even worse, not knowing details, will they
think the photos are of no value to them and toss them!
Photo identification is an important part of saving our histories. Facebook, for all its faults, can be a major help in finding identities. I belong to several groups started by
relatives to which I post pictures and ask for help identifying people, places and things. This starts many discussions. The older people usually supply answers and the younger people really enjoy being able to put names
and faces to people and places. Daughters and sons will ask their mothers and fathers and if possible the grandparents, a rich source of information, to help solve mysteries.
Now you have information to tie to your photos. If you are lucky, someone took the time to write info on the old photos. Many photos from the 20’s to the 40’s were put in
the old black paper albums. Remember those triangular corner things? Some will even have descriptions written under the pictures. Time ravaged these inexpensive albums, and photos were usually pulled out and, yep, thrown in old shoe boxes. Albums were disposed of and the important info was lost forever. Along comes digitizing to help with future problems.
We now scan and digitize old photos, negatives and slides. This gives us the ability to keep information with the photos! I always
scan as a TIFF file with “org” in the title and save to a family-named master or org folder. Much info is available on organizing your photo files with a Google search. However, try
and keep it simple. When scanning, add an informational note to a piece of paper and copy it with the photo. This will keep the
information with the photo. It can easily be cropped off when making copies, but keep the original intact. Another method is to add the information to the metadata (information that is embedded into the file of the photo). This information, such as the person’s name, year of the photo and other descriptions will stay with the file, enabling the information to be readily viewed.
Copy the photo to the desktop. Right click on the photo. At the bottom of the list is Properties. Left click on Properties. When the Properties dialog box opens go to Details and left click on it. In the Details dialog box highlight Subject and fill in a subject name. I usually use the person’s name if I know it. Then highlight the Comments and add whatever details you like. I usually try to add the person’s name again, the year, and location of the photo. Next click on Apply, then OK and you are done. This info will follow the photo file digitally.
I always work and save the original photo in a TIFF format. Tiff is a lossless compression
format, meaning opening, closing, and working on the file will not damage or lose information. It is also a format that most software will recognize. PSD is also a lossless format that is proprietary to Adobe Photoshop. Some software will work fine with PSD but not all software programs. The JPEG format is a lossy format meaning that some original image information is lost and cannot be restored. But it’s main advantage is much smaller file sizes. So, if you save the original as a TIFF, you maintain all the original information in the photo and then make JPEG copies—which will also contain a copy of your metadata record—to email and use on the web. Metadata will stay with a TIFF or a JPEG. Keep in mind, some websites and sources will strip the metadata before posting it or using it. It is always best to double-check to see if your metadata has been retained after posting to social media.
Being able to keep historical information with your photos is one of the wonders of the digital
age. While there are many ways to organize your photos and information, these are two
simple steps almost anyone can take to start organizing their photos and memories.