Friday, April 19, 2019

Adding Metadata to Your Digital Photos

One of the greatest challenges with working with digital images is how to keep track of people and information within the image itself. There are no naming convention standards for digital images. For example, if you want to name a photograph of an individual, you might consider using the name plus any other descriptive data. Here's an example:

HOLDER-Brisco Washington - 1906 - RomeGA.jpg

When naming a group photo, however, it isn't practical to list all the names of the people pictured, is it? The file name could be huge and not necessarily easy to find later. 

When naming a digital image downloaded and saved from an online database, you might try this:

WILSON Family-1900 US Census-Mecklenburg County NC.jpg

However, if you have a multiple page document, you will download it and save it one page at a time. For example:

WILSON-Lenora Lydia Patterson-Will-1914-Page1.jpg
WILSON-Lenora Lydia Patterson-Will-1914-Page2.jpg
WILSON-Lenora Lydia Patterson-Will-1914-Page3.jpg

And what about a newspaper clipping? How much information do you include in the filename?

MURPHY-Jeter Earnest-Obituary-07091898-Statesville[NC]Landmark-Page6.jpg

Filenames are not necessarily the most efficient way to organize and document your digital images. Fortunately, however, there are other ways to organize information about and in the images. One way is by using Metadata

A two-part article in the RootsTech Blog describes what Metadata is and how to add it to your digital images. 

Take some time to read and understand Metadata. You'll open up a new way to add data to your images.


  1. Have you guys tried tools like Photoshop Elements with its Elements Organizer, Adobe Bridge, or Adobe Lightroom to manage digital images and metadata? I am making a serious effort to conquer this this time.

    I tried Lightroom and found it a bit confusing. Elements so far is frustrating because it requires you to manually save metadata to images that have changed. Bridge might be the answer, but I have not yet decided.

    As I figure things out, I can certainly report back.

  2. Hi Scott,

    I've used Photoshop Elements for many years. My original thought was to digitize and correct photographic images, and not to "repair" damaged images. (I'll pay a professional to do that very involved work!) However, Photoshop Elements is, to me, tedious to work with and confusing, even having had classes over the years. Working with Vivid-Pix RESTORE is very quick. You open a digital image (photo, document, newspaper, etc.) and you're immediately presented with a 9-up view of possible corrections. Select the one that looks best to you for your needs. Then adjust the brightness and contrast - and perhaps more - and save the file. You will be amazed at what can be accomplished so quickly.

    I'm scanning the hundreds of photos I have and simply trying to get the clearest images possible, and not take on the "correction" or "repair" functions. I'm also now working with the often less-than-perfect images I've downloaded from subscription websites and databases and making them more legible so I can read, analyze, and hypothesize with them. I'm having lots of success with census records, wills and probates, military records, ships passenger lists, naturalization documents, parish registers, and other documents. I'm also having success with making newspaper clipping images clearer, especially on faded, damaged, porous, or discolored newsprint.

    The metadata facilities have become more important to my digital media too. Elements is not easy to use, and I don't want to invest a lot of money into Adobe products that also are complicated. Vivid-Pix will have more to say and offer in this area soon, I am sure. I'll keep everyone posted on that too.