Some of us have discovered that we forget things from time to time or maybe all of the time. I’ve been looking through some photos that we took ‘not that long ago’ and although I recognized the faces, I don’t have a clue about the names of some of the people. Thinking that the memory loss was just a ‘recent’ affliction, I began to look through old photos hoping to find a photo of my subject when she was young. Well, it appears that my ‘software’ failure extends beyond farther back than I thought. I’ve had the old photos for a long time and know the scenes well, but the names….. Maybe they’ll float to the surface of my memory tomorrow if I look at the photos again. I hope.
How have you labeled your family photos over the years? My mother used to write on the face of the photos with a pen listing names and dates and sometimes location names. I’ve always hated seeing the photos defaced this way but am very happy that she wrote the names, etc., down. If she hadn’t, I don’t think anyone alive would know the names of the folks in the old photos even if they are of then young aunts and uncles, etc.
There are probably a number of ways to record names, dates and places shown on photos. I’ve long used a system that works for me and thus far hasn’t produced any negative effects on the photo.
I’ve created a template for Avery Labels on my computer and print the photo information to the labels using a laser printer. I then put the printed labels the back of the photos. If any professional or similarly trained folks read this note, they’ll probably be alarmed to read my method. I welcome their constructive comments if that is true.
The folks on RootsWeb / GenTrek have written a good article on the subject that you’ll want to read. Please also note the three links at the bottom of the page. The related pages will be very useful in making your own photo labeling decision.
In addition to my labels, I also scan the photos. The digital images are saved on all of the computers in our home and I also burn them to archival DVD’s. A copy of these DVD’s is kept at home and another is given to our children in rotation.
An additional benefit of the digital photos is that you can embed the names, locations, etc. in the image data itself.
As an example, if you have the free Irfanview software on your computer, the data can be entered in in the Comments section of the photo information. In this case, just go to Image > Information > Comment. You can also add the info in the IPTC section. While there, list ownership, copyrights, etc., for the photos and images.
Other imaging software has similar tools so you can view or record this data. You’ll just have to take a few minutes and find the ‘Information’ selection in your application.
Be aware that not all applications can or will show the data you enter in these sections however. To find out, try looking at the images that have your comments, IPTC info, etc., using the various imaging applications that you have on your computer. Can you see the data you entered? If not, write it in another section of the photo information tags.
You may want to also try the free Faststone Image Viewer. See if you can read the data in your image file by pointing your mouse to the right side of the screen when it is being displayed.
Regardless of your digital information recording method, you’ll still need to decide on a plan that lets you physically see the titles, names, dates, etc., about your photos. The physical information has a much better chance of surviving the changes in software, etc., that naturally occur over time.
If you have a good system that works for you, please let me know so it can be shared with other readers of this blog.
Here’s a great tune that explores the opportunities that my over 40 memory enjoys every day. I think you may find that the song was written about you too!