Remember how we used to write the names of the photo subjects onto the backs of our photos?
Remember how valuable those notes can be when looking back at old prints? Especially our parents’ and our grandparents’ photos?
But you might also remember the way the writing formed permanent indentations into them, visible on the front.
What if you could easily add names, dates — any kind and any amount of information relevant to you — to every one of your photos without much effort and without the indentations? No one would ever have to wonder.
What if you could print multiple copies of a single picture and automatically have your photo’s details included on each one? What if you could add the same details to a whole group of photos — let’s say twenty different photos from the same event — without the effort of having to manually copy them over and over again?
You Can, But You Won’t
For many, this possibility must seem like a fantasy, but the truth is, a small few others of you are already doing it! There is one word you should learn this year if you don’t already know and use it to its fullest potential. It’s the most valuable word any memory-keeper and photo-story-teller can know. It will allow you to attach all of the important information, plus your own personal reflections and journaling, to any photo no matter where the photo goes!
Unfortunately, many scrapbookers don’t even want to hear this word because it sounds like it’s technical, and therefore, it sounds like a difficult concept to learn.
But it’s not!
The Word I Can’t Say
I’m afraid to print the word in a sub-title or in the title of this article because some are so scared of the sound of it that they won’t read this if they see it. So instead, let me just share with you the information I attached to some of the photos I’ve taken so far this year. When my kids and grand kids get my photos it will be like I gave them a photo journal of our lives, but they’ll be able to use the photos any way that they want without my words hampering their projects the way the imprinted writing of Dear Grandma sometimes does with her old photos . . .
That One Word — Shhhh!
So what is this one word? What is this magical function called? You’ve heard it from me before. It’s called “metadata.”
Metadata is just information that is attached to your digital photo. Some of that information is the camera settings, the camera itself, the date and time. But you can add your own metadata. If you tag/keyword your photos with names and other categories, you are adding metadata.
Why This Makes Life Easy
Notice a few things about the journaling on my photos above . . .
- Same journaling for a set of photos - Two of the photos have the exact same journaling. When you only have one thing to say about each photo in a set, you only have to type it once. Then you can copy your journaling into the metadata of all of the other photos!
- Journaling on your scrapbook pages - When it’s time to scrapbook, you can copy and paste it into a word document to print on paper. Or you can paste directly onto a copy of your photo, like I did with the set of photos of Trinity at the top of this article!
- Postponing a scrapbook page - No matter how long it takes you to finally get around to scrapbooking a photo, you’ll have the details right there with the photo to remind you! In the same place as the photo! You can expound on it for your actual scrapbook page if you want, but at least you won’t forget the details! Sometimes I copy my journaling from the metadata, sometimes I expand on it, and sometimes I’m scrapbooking a different angle on the story and write something completely different.
There are other benefits when it comes to sharing your photos and your layouts with others and online…
- Sharing online - If you upload your photos to Flickr, your words will automatically appear as the photo description. You won’t have to write your descriptions twice! If your family downloads one of your pictures from Flickr, they’ll automatically get your words, too! (This may also work on other photo sharing sites I haven’t used. It might also depend on the photo managing software you use, though. I use Aperture).
- Giving to friends - When you give copies of your photos to friends and family on CD’s, DVD’s, or by transferring them with an external hard drive, your journaling details will go right along with the photos!
- Sharing scrapbook layouts - When you photograph your layouts to share online or for publishing, you can enter the page’s journaling and supplies into the metadata and it will always be right there for you, as well as on Flickr!
So how do you do it?
It’s going to be different for every type of photo manager. Mine (Aperture) has a metadata panel with all of the information the camera attaches to each photo. It also has any metadata I automatically add on import, like my copyright notice.
On that panel there is also a blank field called, “Caption.” That is where I enter all of my journaling or any other important details. It looks like this. . .
To the left on the photo is my metadata panel. Look for “caption” and you will see a very short bit of detail I attached to this photo.
The caption field seems to have no size limit. I’ve added enough journaling to some photos that I have to scroll way down to finally get to the end of the caption field.
Instructions for other photo managing software:
This article has instructions for most other photo managing software, including Picassa, Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, as well as how to add it if you’re just using your computer’s picture file system without additional software. Just scroll down through the article until you find the name of the software/system you’re using.
Don’t Let Fear Stop You from Telling Your Story!
I really hope this article has demystified metadata for you! It’s a simple concept and it’s simple to do. It might be new but it’s not hard or complicated at all! Avoiding it because it’s a new concept would be like avoiding modern medicine because you don’t fully understand it.
As memory-keepers, you can’t get much better than the ability to add information and thoughts to a photo so that it follows the photo no matter where that photo goes or how many times it gets printed!
Have more questions? Click here for more info and my very manageable simple system for attaching your journaling to your photos.