I started working on adding metadata to my photos today! I used Adobe Bridge which comes with any of the Creative Suite products. It was pretty slick. You have the ability to set up templates to fill in info that is the same over lots and lots of images. I put information in the template like contact info and copyright stuff. Next step was the keywords. Bridge has a hierarchical method of organizing keywords with keywords and sub-keywords. It already had keywords like people, places and events. I added dogs and things as additional keywords so far. Under dogs I put the names of all the puppies we have raised. Then I had some photos of other puppies in training, like Redding that we puppy sat a few weeks ago. I put him as a sub-keyword under Dune. I’m not sure if that is the right way to handle it but that what I’m doing for now. In Bridge you can select a whole bunch of photos that need the same keywords and add them all at the same time.
I found a really detailed article about labeling digital photos by Ken Watson. It talks all about the technical stuff and different software that helps with the metadata and metadata standards. It has very good reference information.
One thing I was disappointed about was that Windows xp doesn’t show all the metadata information that I added to my photos when you right-click on the image and pull up properties. You can add metadata in the fields that Windows provides under properties but it would be a very slow task and it doesn’t follow XMP standards (read Ken Watson’s article if you don’t know what that is). I’m pretty sure that newer operating systems do a better job on that score.
One disappointment is that Windows xp can’t see the all the metadata I added, like the keywords. But I’m happy to have gotten started on adding metadata to my photos. Tons more to do. A goal I’m making now is to add metadata as I save new photos to my machine. At least then I won’t be loosing more ground.
OK, so why add metadata? This is also an easy answer. You add metadata so you can find photos on your computer and remember the information about who, what, when and where. Once the metadata is added to your photos, you can use your computer’s search function to find the photos by searching on any of the words or names you have added to the photos and stored with them in their file. How will you know if your program is storing the information with the original file or in a separate file? You might need to search in your program’s preferences or options to find a reference to adding data to your photographs.
Adding metadata to your photograph not only helps you but it helps anyone you might share that photo with, if they know to look for it. The metadata stays with the photo so anyone who has the photo can get access to the information and know everything you know about that photo. Adding metadata takes time but when it comes to family photos and documents, it is the who, what, when, where etc. that makes the photo have value.
Metadata can also be added to other types of files other than photographs. Denis Barrett Olson wrote an article about using metadata to establish provenance. There are lots of ways to use metadata to organize files and make sure that important information about a file stays with that file.
Now we know why we want to use metadata, the challenging part is actually taking the time to add it to our files.
One of the classes I took at RootsTech 2013 in February was on metadata by Randy W. Whited. From what I’ve learned using metadata makes the most sense of all the ways to organize your photos and documents digitally. I’ve tried the long name files with date and name of the person but by using the metadata you can include so much more information and all of it is searchable. What I didn’t realize is how easily you can use the metadata. You don’t have to have a special app, your operating system is all you need. Just right-click on the file (in Windows) and open the properties panel. You can reach the metadata there and add to it.
There are photo organization programs that make it easier to get access to the metadata and edit it. I’m planning on using Adobe Bridge when I finally get around to using the power of metadata. At the moment it isn’t even on my to do list, but maybe I should go and change that. Then I could post with some real world experience instead of the few minutes I played around with metadata in the hands on RootsTech class.
OK, now it is actually on my to do list. I’m going to start with adding metadata to all the photos I have of our puppies in training. Back in May while I was working on Zodiac’s book I realized that it can be hard to tell him and Yakira apart once Zodiac grew up. Two black labs can look a lot alike depending on the angle of the shot. I’ll report back after I get started on it, maybe next week.
This was a great class at RootsTech 2013 about using technology to help organize all your family history stuff. Valerie Elkins has some really good ideas to not only help you get organized but to stay organized.
Ok, so I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but this video show the whole second day of RootsTech. The class I want to share starts at 6 hours and 30 minutes.
Here is a simple list of the important parts of organizing family papers (and other things too). This comes from Minnesota History Society. You can find the original info here.
Step One: Gather them together
Bring together those items that you want to keep permanently. Keep them together in a box or a file, and clearly label them as family papers and mementos.
Step Two: Identify them
Remember that this information is what will make the materials meaningful to younger family members and future generations.
Fully identify writers and recipients of letters. Either write this information (inpencil) on each letter, or write a separate note to accompany a group of letters.
Write onto the back of each photograph (in soft lead pencil) as much information as is known about it – who; where; date; event or other circumstance.
Medals and other memorabilia: write a note identifying the recipient, occasion, and date, and keep it with the object.
Write down other relevant information about the persons or events, particularly birth and death dates, parents’ and other family names, civilian or military service units or employment, dates and places of service, memorable experiences.
Step Three: Organize them
The goal is to keep them from becoming scattered or mis-identified in the future, and to help others follow what was happening at the time.
There are many options, depending on the number and types of documents. They may include: keep all of each person’s letters and other papers together; keep a single chronological run of all materials; keep one group of only letters, and another group of other materials; keep separate groups of each type of material.
If photos or other items were received with a letter, keep them with that letter.
Step Four: Put them in protective enclosures
The goals: protect them from wear and tear, from light and dust, from becoming scattered or lost, and from losing their identity.
Use good-quality boxes, file folders, and other supplies. Archival-quality (acid-free) is ideal but not essential.
Unfold folded items; remove letters from envelopes; place them in file folders.
Remove pins, brads, and metal paper clips.
Label each folder or other enclosure with an identification of its contents.
Use separate folders or boxes for diaries and other volumes, or medals and other artifacts; do not put them in a folder together with letters or photographs.
For some items – such as medals and other artifacts, groups of related photographs or post cards, books in poor condition – consider the use of specialty enclosures that are available from archival suppliers.
Step Five: Store them safely
The entire group of materials should have its own “home,” whether in a box or a file drawer.
Avoid extremes of temperature and humidity; keep them clean; protect them from mold and insects.
Put sleeves into binders (fixing order if necessary).
Label binder and put it on a shelf.
Some hints from the article:
Buy sheet protectors in boxes of 100
Make sure they are acid free, archival, top-loading
Buy high quality binders that will last
My mom has done something like this when she was doing family histories. I think it is important to keep it simple and get it organized. Don’t be tempted do make it fancy. If you want to go back later you can.
What have you tried in organizing you papers, documents and photos?