label digital photo collection
November 11, 2012 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Labelling system for family digital photo collection

How can I label the large (maybe one thousand or more) family collection of photos before I scan them so that finding/enjoying them later would be easier?
I think a way of starting with myself and radiating out backwards to my grandparents and forwards to my grandchildren with tangents for in laws and nieces/nephews and friends might work for me but how to label?

So a picture of me right now would be m.jpg

Of course, this is all on the computer.

Thank you for your ideas.
posted by Kazimirovna to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should look into tagging. Picasa from Google even helps you with the tagging by using face recognition.

You will have this information only in the software you are using, but it's definitely worth it and more accessible then using folders and cryptic filenames.
posted by KMB at 4:07 PM on November 11, 2012

It depends on a couple of things: what operating system are you using? Do you use any photo database, or maybe an online service like Picasa or Flikr? You could use file tagging if you're on a Windows 7 (or higher) system. You could use the internal tagging in the database software if you're using one.

If you just want to give the files a logical name, then maybe use a naming system that is expandable, like LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME_YEAR.jpg. The problem with this system, though, is that most pictures of people have several people in them. You really need a way to tag everyone involved for it to be truly useful.

You probably have to combine tagging and filenames to make it the most useful. If it's something you plan to share with the rest of your family you might want to find an online solution.
posted by clone boulevard at 4:08 PM on November 11, 2012

Yeah, tagging is the way to go - as clone boulevard noted, how would a filename based system handle a pic with you, your mother and your grandmother in it?

Picasa's facial recognition is amazing. It will identify faces it thinks are of the same person and you can tag all of them at once, or remove the mistakes - and it learns from those corrections.

My photos are in folders by year and date, and then all tagged by who is in them, where it was taken, and anything else of interest (such as "Ice Storm" for the pics of the 2008 storm that hit us pretty hard).
posted by neilbert at 8:46 PM on November 11, 2012

When I save my digital photos, I always name the folders with dates like 2012-11-12 to 2012-11-16 (for a vacation this week). If you use an ISO numeric date (YYYY-MM-DD), a name sort in Windows will sort your folders chronologically. I will then add some more information as to the content, so pictures of my camping trip from this summer are all in a folder named "2012-08-16 to 25 - Camping at Silent Lake", or photos of a wedding will be "2012-08-10 - P & J's wedding".

generally, I find that people want to look for photos chronologically (Where is the picture of my first day at school? where are the wedding photos for so-and-so?). As noted above, labeling photos with just one person gets confusing, because photos will have more than one person. But I find that when I'm looking for a photo, I'll be thinking "Where is that photo I took of my mom at Silent Lake? Oh, yeah, in the folder for that trip".

I have never bothered to rename individual files for digital photos, as that's a lot of work, but when scanning photos from old albums, I've used the Album number/name as the beginning and then had the scanning program automatically add a number (eg Album1_001, Album1_002, etc). I scan them in the order they appeared in the original Album and thus the autonumber preserves their place in that album, and that's one of the clues as to when the photo was taken (Most of these albums predated my own birth by about 40 years).

I also keep a simple text based handlist which gives the file name for each photo and what I know about it: date, location, people in the image, occasion, anything written on the back that I didn't scan. I have mostly done this with older photos, so there are a lot where I didn't know the name or date, but my scanning number kept them in order and I was able to show printouts to my grandmother to help try to identify some of the people and then easily add that information to the handlist. The nice thing about using a text-based handlist (which is what archives often use for photos and manuscripts) as opposed to a "tagging" or meta-data system is that the information is program independent - you don't lose the information when you switch viewing programs, because it's separate. When I've printed out these photos again, I was able to either include the handlist like a table of contents/index with the album (each photo being labelled with its filename), or copy the information into captions.
posted by jb at 9:17 AM on November 12, 2012

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