I’m pretty excited to organize my digital photos this year and one class at RootsTech gave me the idea I need to make this a reality. It was Alison Taylor, of Pictures and Stories, who shared some of her best ideas for adding metadata to photos that really inspired me.
I follow some photo and organizational gurus on Twitter and Facebook and this is really the organizational goal I need to tackle. From Caroline Guntur, Certified Photo Organizer: work on your digital photos before your analog photos. It’s easy to join the craze and scan all family documents and photos but if we don’t have a digital file management system in place, she compares it to a conveyor belt that has .pdfs and .jpgs piling up on the floor. Digitizing something doesn’t take the mess away, it just gives you a second format that needs to be organized.
Adding Metadata to photos is part of the organization process. Metadata is like the handwriting on the back of an old photo. I am not a computer techie or a photographer so I’ll give you a barebones explanation and link you to the pros. Basically, there are two main types of metadata: EXIF and IPTC. EXIF is automatically added by your camera/device. It gives info like the aperture/shutter speed/etc. Pros probably care about this. I don’t. IPTC is user-editable information you can add to your photo, “IPTC” or “I Put This in my Computer” is Alison Taylor’s way to remember it. Types of metadata you can add to a photo include a filename, creator, creator’s address/website/contact info, a title for the photo, description of the photo, keywords to search for the photo, and more.
If we set up a digital file naming and metadata system, we’ll always be able to quickly know what the photo is based on its name and find a photo by keyword and metadata searches. I have 29,000 digital photos on my computer right now, more photos than all my ancestors took combined.
The following options don’t even scratch the surface, but here are a few possibilities for metadata.
QromaTag, a new app, took second place in the recent RootsTech Innovators Summit, and is an iOS app (currently iPhone only) you can buy that “creates and embeds industry standard metadata into your images using voice recognition. Make your photos searchable by telling us the date, location and people in your photos, and QromaTag creates industry-standard EXIF and IPTC metadata tags.” They also have QromaScan to digitize photos. Cost is currently $12.99 for the app. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for tips, tricks, and updates.
ACDSee, is more than a metadata and file management system, hence the price, but it’s popular if you’re really into photography. “Loaded with photo and video editing power, organizational prowess, hundreds of advanced non-destructive processing adjustments, the Personal Plan comes stocked with all the best tools for your home office. …Automatically organize and sync your folders to ACDSee Web. View, track, and share your images from anywhere in the world!” ACDSee supports both EXIF and IPTC metadata. Cost is currently $6.95/month. Follow them on Twitter for tips, tricks, and updates.
Adobe Lightroom “is the essential tool for organizing, editing, and sharing your photography. Use Lightroom on your computer, iPad, iPhone, and Android phone.” Lightroom supports both EXIF and IPTC metadata. Adobe products are amazing and this one includes photo editing which is great. I don’t personally use Lightroom but I know people who do and they swear by it. Cost is currently $9.99/month. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for tips, tricks, and updates.
Photo Mechanic software “Photo Mechanic is a standalone image browser and workflow accelerator that lets you view your digital photos with convenience and speed. Photo Mechanic’s super fast browsing and its ability to quickly ingest, edit, and export your photos, takes the hard work out of your workflow.” It supports both IPTC and EXIF metadata. Cost is currently $150.00 for the software. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for tips, tricks, and updates.
Free Metadata Programs
Adobe Bridge-this is a media browser/file finder that allows you to batch rename files, add metadata (supports EXIF and IPTC), and basically organize your files. Adobe products are used by professionals and this is one of the few Adobe products that is free. People pay big bucks for Adobe products so you need to let that sink in. Freeeeee. Learning this was worth the price I paid to attend RootsTech. Adobe Bridge can be used on both Windows and Mac computers and can be downloaded to both types of phones (I hear). Apple and Adobe aren’t the best of friends so I don’t think Adobe Bridge is in the iPhone app store, but supposedly you can download it from your computer. If you have zero technical expertise you probably want something simpler than an Adobe product, but you don’t need the expertise level of say, an Adobe Photoshop user. Did I mention it’s free? And it’s made by Adobe?
If you’re a Windows user, your computer already has Windows explorer which allows file renaming and metadata. Visit Alison Taylor’s blog on metadata and scroll down to instructions for Windows users.
If you’re a Mac user, iPhotos allows you to add some “info” but you can’t rename the file in iPhotos. You’ll need to find your photo file in Finder to rename the file. Bummer, I know. Visit Alison Taylor’s blog on metadata and scroll down to instructions for Mac users.
There may be some free metadata apps at GooglePlay and iOS. I haven’t downloaded or used any. The warning I heard from Alison Taylor of Pictures and Stories, is read the reviews and make sure they have both EXIF and IPTC metadata.
So, like I said earlier, I’m not an expert but I use a Mac and an iPhone and have added Adobe Bridge to my computer. I’ve been using iPhotos to add keywords and tags but I also want to rename all my photo files and I can’t do that individually (not enough hours in the day) so I’m batch renaming all 29,000 of them.
I’m renaming photo files in a pattern of “Name-Activity-Place-Date-000#” so I grab all my Mansfield Reunion photos and tell Adobe Bridge to rename them as a group/batch according to the pattern above. So I’d have “Mansfield Reunion Moab 20100618_0001” through “Mansfield Reunion Moab 20100618_0151” for all my Mansfield Reunion photos taken on June 18, 2010 in Moab. It’s just one file structure renaming technique and there are plenty of techniques. This will be much more helpful than a file named “0001.jpg” through “0151.jpg” or whatever my camera automatically named it. So when someone asks me to send them a photo down the road, it’ll be easier to identify and pass along and they’ll have the metadata notes to boot.
Follow the Pros!!! Alison Taylor of Pictures and Stories has an amazing blog with great instructions and warnings about Metadata and which sites might strip the metadata or not allow you to see it. Follow Pictures and Stories on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and tricks.
Best in your work, whether its Fee or Free!