How to date photos at least into the right order...
July 14, 2016 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Is there any software to let me visually sort and assign temporary placeholder dates to my scanned photos?

I have a ton of old scanned photos. The dates in the EXIF data are those when the photo was scanned - and until I know the right dates, I assign a date of 1/1/2099. That's the easy part.
The tricky part is that I can visually sort a lot of the pictures into chronological order based on people's age, location, etc. but I don't have year or month to go with that knowledge.
Is there any software that will let me visually sort the photos into order, and either assign relative dates (which can be real dates or maybe dates in the 1800's or something) as temporary dates, and then shift them all as more information comes in, i.e. as more pictures are added to the timeline?
posted by blue_wardrobe to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd try an alternative and software-agnostic solution: I'd give them sortable filenames, and then sort by filename. I would start out making a series like this:

Then if a new picture needed to be added in between, I'd do it like so:
00110.jpg --- here's the one that's been inserted in the list, it needs to be after 00100 and before 00200

You can just keep going until they're all in order:
00105.jpg --- oops, found another one that should come before that one I just found in the previous example
00120.jpg --- and this one goes here
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:41 PM on July 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I used Picasa for this. I gave photos tags like "1980s" or a more exact date if I had one. It was a bit laborious, but you can then pull out photos by tag and change tags if needed.
posted by crocomancer at 12:46 AM on July 15, 2016

Ugh sorry, didn't read the question properly, but I think you could still use Picasa tagging to break them into rough order groups, and then repeat the process within those groups.
posted by crocomancer at 12:48 AM on July 15, 2016

Too-Ticky's scheme of leaving insertable numeric spaces makes a lot of sense. I'd add an estimated-year-month prefix as you go along, too. Put Xs in as placeholders for unknown digits. In your filenames, use hyphens or underscores for your separators, since spaces & slashes & commas & periods can mess up filesystems. Use a date order of YYYY-MM so they sort well.


I'd also start by creating a folder hierarchy of decades-years-months, as buckets into which you can drop photos as their dates get clearer. That way you're only dealing with sorting among close neighbors.
posted by NumberSix at 9:05 PM on July 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

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