If you are like me, you love to look through drawers and boxes with old photos in them. Sometimes I can recognize the people that are in those photos and other times I can not identify them at all. An incredible experience is when you’ve heard of some uncle or distant relative but you have no idea what he looked like and then one day you get photos where someone had the great idea to write the names of the people who are portrayed on the photos and now you have discovered their identity. This is also true for some place that was important in the family life. For me it is super exciting to be able to name the faces and visualize the places so that I can better imagine the stories.
Not all of us have been consistent in putting information on the photos (guilty !!). We believe that we will always be able to remember the details of that moment, place, and time, but as the years pass by we realize that is not so. The names of the people we stopped seeing will slip from our memory, we will confuse places we no longer frequent, and often we will not even remember the time clearly. If we were there but did not identify those details, how can that photograph later tell the story to everyone?
How grateful I’ve been to find those photos that tell me the who, when and / or where of a photo. It is information that has allowed me to identify those who preceded me or has refreshed the image of that character of my childhood that somehow escaped my memories. Many times I neglected that task and now I am missing many pieces of the puzzle of my life.
Anyway … I’ve tried to get the information from other people and other sources. And little by little, the story makes a little more sense. But wait. Now that my photos are digital how do I write the data on them???
With the amount of digital photos we have now, it is impossible to try to print them all and put the information on each of them, but thanks to the technology, much of that information is recorded by the camera or phone … HOW?… WHERE?
When we take a photo with our digital camera, there is a whole set of information that is immersed in the image: information about the camera and its settings, date, photo size, name of the photo and many times the geographical location. This is what is known as METADATA. And best of all is that all this information travels with the photo when we share it, publish it or back it up. Our only concern to this point is to make sure the date on our camera is correct.
OK, very well, but that information doesn’t tell me who is portrayed or what was the occasion, event, or if it is a casual photo. What is its the story…
Also, if when we look for photos in our computer we see something like this:
Even when we can see the information of a specific photo, the job of locating a photo or a set of photos is going to be a daunting task that will only bring us frustration.
And if there’s something we do not want to happen, it’s frustration with our photos.
After all, we take the photos to remember moments, to share them with others and to relive those moments of our lives that have already passed. These are moments that only lasted seconds or minutes and it is only through those photographs that there is proof of its existence. What to do then?
Fortunately the Metadata is not only made up of information that the camera automatically attaches, there are a set of fields that we can edit and fill with information that is relevant to us. First, the title: How do you best remember a photo: with the name 2004-09-Trip to Boston.jpg or the name IMG_1566.jpg?. I think the answer is obvious. And what if we can also indicate the name of the people that appear in the photo? If there is a funny anecdote or important fact related to the photo, don’t you want to remember it too?.
There are different fields that you can use to place this information. Programs that allow you to manage your photos (Photo management software) offer more options every day to place this data and they can be very simple to use or very complex, depending on how much you like technology. You just have to find a tool that works for you and your work style.
Although the goal of this blog is not to delve into metadata, I hope you are curious to find out more about it and at least make sure that the date and name of your photos are correct and appropriate. And just as you put your photos in albums for easy access, having the digital photos organized in folders and albums will facilitate their access and ability to share them.
Let me finish with a quote of Ellen Goodman:
“This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value the most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it’s the family stories that are worth the storage.”
How true that is!. Our essence is what will prevail and is what will give our presence in this world some meaning.
“Family photos and documents provide a tangible image link to the past. At some point in our lives, most of us will come to realize that our lives are more closely connected to generations past, present and future than we previously appreciated.
Preserving our sense of place and understanding our family history are at the heart of why it is important to both preserve and share family photos images. Special family photos and documents simply help us to remember, appreciate, and better understand the uniqueness of our families and our individual journeys.” (Family Photo Organization by Richard E. Anderson)
Mili Parra Castro
Pictures with Magic, LLC owner
Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Mili now lives in South Florida. After retiring from her career as a computer programmer and immerse herself into family history, photo book creations and photo organization, Mili founded Pictures with Magic, LLC. As a Certified Personal Photo Organizer, Mili love to help people to organize and bring their memories to life under the conviction that every person has a meaningful place on this world, and a worthy story to shared.