Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Digital photo management

As we gradually accumulate mountains or terabytes of digital photos, some help is at hand. There is no perfect solution but a consistent and steady approach will help conquer the despair one may feel when looking at many years' worth of accumulated files. Much has been written on this topic and some recent up to date posts are listed at the end of this article. The slide show above accompanies a talk presented at Noosaville Library on 24th February 2015.

There are several issues to consider:
  • Where are all your photos? Phones, cameras, computers, flash drives, CDs, surely not floppy disks!
  • What do you want to do with them? Digital only, photo books, individual prints, keep them to yourself, share with family or with the world - all of these considerations will help you determine best practice for you.
  • Where will you keep them? Locally, off site, in the cloud? 
  • How will you find them? What search capabilities do you need to have, by file name, keyword, tags, people's names, events, dates?
  • What about the future? What if the format of files changes? What media should you use?
Once you have thought about these issues it is time to get started.

1. Gather all photos into one location. Take a critical look and dispose/delete those that could easily be obtained by using a Google search. Is your picture of the Eiffel Tower better than one you can find online?

2. Decide on a file naming system. Probably the most difficult decision but remember the search capabilities of computers are excellent. Most cameras and phones nowadays will have the date embedded and for most purposes, this is an excellent method of naming files.
  • YYYY-MM-DD Event Place Person number 2015-02-15_rain_Gympie_001.jpg 
This method will keep all your images well ordered whichever folder they are in.
If your photos are people focused you may like to consider
  • SURNAME_Firstname_date_event_Place_number        HOGAN_Janet_1912_schooldays_010.jpg 
This method will file all families and relations together. Whatever the method you decide on, write some guidelines to remind yourself every time you save new images.

3. Add metadata, that is similar to writing on the back of the prints like Mum and Grandma did in the photo albums of previous years. Expensive programs are not needed to do this. See examples in the slideshow. Remember to save! 
4. Back up in at least 3 different ways - at least one external HDD and another one offsite in case of natural or other disasters. How often do you hear of someone losing all their files through a computer crash or a disaster such as fire or flood?
5. Load to the cloud for future proofing. When Apple no longer supported Flash files, the online providers eventually moved their files to HTML5. YouTube has now converted customers' online files for them at no cost. Flickr has billions of images from reputable entities worldwide. The British Library alone has more than 1 million images housed on Flickr.

Keeping things organized 

10 free photo editor tools from Make Use Of
Free photo editing software for Windows 7/8 by the Windows Club
How to use Spotlight search like a champ from How to Geek
Which cloud service for you? from CNet
Scan your life Create the photo collection you have always wanted
Clipping magic Instantly remove image backgrounds online
A great post on iPhoneography by Darcy Moore

The options I use to preserve digital photos are detailed in the slideshow. Here's another post on the subject I wrote earlier this year. There are dozens of YouTube videos to help with organising your photos. Is there a major player I've missed? Let me know in the comments what you have found useful.

This post first appeared on http://librarycurrants.blogspot.com/2015/02/digital-photo-management.html

1 comment:

  1. In Cataloging Digital Family Photographs and Records, Nancy Loe warns, 'An additional concern when using third-party services is whether the metadata (tags) you have added stay embedded in files or are stripped out when downloaded.' I'd been told that this 'stripping out' happens with image metadata entered using Windows programmes, so I did a test. Metadata that I entered using Windows Photo Gallery did *not* 'stick' as IPTC data attached to the image when I opened it with IrfanView. This is obviously going to be a problem if you (or those with whom you share the image) use different software - or if you are relying on the metadata to help you catalogue or search.

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